October 14, 2010

Football Seeks First Home Win of 2010 vs. Colgate

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Hoping to capitalize on its home field advantage, the football team squares off against Colgate tomorrow, aiming to defeat one of its New York rivals. Being on the road for the past two weekends, Cornell is hoping the home atmosphere propels the team to another “W,” –– its first victory of the season at Schoellkopf.

After the Red’s disappointing loss last weekend, the team is fired up to return to the playing field for its next challenge against the Raiders. Interestingly, Colgate is coming off an Ivy League victory after soundly defeating Princeton, 44-10, last Saturday. Despite not being conference rivals, the Red is very familiar with the Patriot League. Earlier this year, Cornell defeated Bucknell, 21-12, earning its first and only Patriot victory of the season.

“Colgate is a very good team. Defensively, they are disciplined and very athletic. That being said, we are confident in our game plan and feel we will be successful,” said freshman quarterback Jeff Mathews.

Cornell (1-3, 0-2 Ivy) and Colgate (3-2, 0-0 Patriot) are no strangers on the football field. Tomorrow’s match will mark the 93rd game of this interstate rivalry. Last year, the Raiders took the edge with a 45-23 victory in Hamilton; however, Cornell has not lost hope and ambitions to make dents and alter this record.

With the Raiders having a very skilled and dangerous offensive lineup –– the strength of the team –– the Red will employ various defensive line fronts to hinder Colgate from scoring and not allow it to go unchecked. Knowing that defense is going to play a crucial role in the game, Cornell has practiced various defensive schemes this week in practice, so that Colgate will have to work hard to get its touchdowns.

Leading the Red offensively, Mathews has 650 yards passing, averaging 162.5 yards per game. In addition, junior wide receiver Shane Savage leads the team catching 19 passes for 225 yards, and sophomore receiver Luke Tasker is close behind with 15 receptions for 150 yards. Together, they combine for 34 receptions and 375 yards receiving for Cornell.

Defensively, senior cornerback Emani Fenton has three interceptions, and senior linebacker Brandon Lainhart and freshman Brian Gee have 43 and 35 tackles, respectively.

“We need to eliminate mistakes and play a ‘clean’ game. If we do this, we give ourselves the best chance for success,” Mathews said.

For the Raiders, junior tailback Nate Eachus poses the biggest threat for the Red’s defense. Eachus rushed for 725 yards and nine touchdowns in five games this season, and averages 145 yards per game, making him the nation’s third-leading rusher. Colgate’s starting quarterback, Greg Sullivan, has an impressive quarterback rating of 137.4 despite throwing an equal number of touchdown passes and interceptions. Sullivan is a dual threat, rushing for 5.4 yards/carry as the second-leading rusher for Colgate. He has gained 708 yards in the air and 324 on the ground.

When Sullivan puts the ball in the air, receiver Doug Rosnick is his favorite target with 32 receptions for a cumulative 382 yards and three touchdowns. Rosnick is a great threat on offense because of his additional yards after catch, resulting from his breaking many tackles.

Therefore, the Red will undoubtedly key in on Sullivan, Eachus and Rosnick while playing defense. The additional Raider weapon is kick returner Noah Jackson, who averages 24.5 per return. The Colgate punt return team has been a non-factor so far this season.

“As a team, we are focusing on playing a full 60 minutes. Offensively, we need to finish drives with points and take advantage of our defense playing well,” Mathews said.

Hoping to carry the momentum forward for this weekend’s games, the Red aims to manufacture a decisive victory before heading on the road again next weekend. A win would also derail Colgate from recording its 600th victory, at least until next weekend.

Original Author: Jill Mendelsohn