In yet another game defined by a tough running game and even tougher defensive play, the veteran Cornell squad was able to hold off the upstart Post University for a 22-14 win at Schoellkopf Field on Friday.
It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t pretty.
Down 14-12 with 12 minutes left to play, it took the sturdy legs of both senior kicker Alex Perilstein and junior running back Douglas Famularo to avoid a potentially traumatic upset and carry the Red to a 3-0 start. The Eagles, in their inaugural CSFL season, fell to 0-2.
After a blocked punt, Post scored first with nine minutes left in the first period when quarterback Sir-Darryl Johnson connected with Daniel Awwad in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown. Johnson and fellow Post quarterback Cody Kingsley combined for 168 yards through the air on 13 for 30 pass attempts, with one touchdown and one interception.
Despite the early deficit, three impressive field goals from Perilstein of 42, 34 and 39 yards helped dig Cornell out of the hole. “As a kicker, I know my specific role … I understand [my role] when the team gets down in the red zone and they call on me,” Perilstein said.
After having spent some time away from the team while studying abroad, Perilstein spoke about returning to sprint and playing well early on this season:
“It’s great to be back. I’ve been kicking for about seven years now, and it feels great. I worked hard over this summer at home … I tried to kick several times a week to get my skills back.”
Like so many Cornell victories, the differential in ground game proved the decisive difference for the home team on this day. Famularo was a certifiable workhorse and the center of the Red offense, rushing for 159 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown. He also caught a 13-yard pass with time winding down in the first half. As a team, Cornell rushed for an impressive 221 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Cornell defense held the Eagles to 23 yards and an average of less than one yard per attempt. Senior Joe Bright, junior Tim Dooley, senior Kevin Schmidt and senior Ted Alexander all registered at least six tackles. Bright, Dooley and senior Clay Hemminger all also had two sacks individually as part of an eight-sack performance as a unit. Although the Post passers were able to put up decent yardage, the Red pressure never let up.
“We got a lot of pressure on their quarterbacks,” Schmidt said. “It was kind of like a bend-but-don’t-break scheme.”
Despite another strong game, the defense knows the true tests are yet to come.
“We’ll have to see how we play against Army, Navy and Penn,” Schmidt said. “But, we definitely do play well together, and most of us are seniors.”
Ultimately, according to Schmidt, the outstanding performance comes down to solid fundamentals: “We play our gaps well. Our defense is basically just gap assignments, and our linebackers read the plays well.”
After two strong games to start the season, the aerial attack struggled all day as senior quarterback Elliott Corey and freshman backup Brendan Miller combined for only 76 yards on 8 of 20 passing, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Sophomore wideout Spenser Grunenfelder, who put up very solid numbers and a couple of big plays in the first two games of the season, was held without a reception.
Corey, who is always a threat to run out of the backfield, added 47 yards on the ground.
Despite the win and an overall strong performance as an offensive unit, the lack of a consistent passing game may present a disconcerting trend the Red will continue to try and rectify this season, as it has in recent years.
On Friday, the Cornell will travel to West Point for its toughest test yet this season against the Black Knights of Army. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.
Original Author: Holden Steinhauer