September 25, 2011

SPRINT FOOTBALL | Early Lead Evaporates After Post Comeback

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In the home opener for Cornell’s sprint football team, the Red (1-1) was upset by Post (1-0), 25-20. After joining the Collegiate Sprint Football League just last year, Post was supposedly an easy win for the Red, but the Eagles used a 19-point fourth quarter and a touchdown with 36 seconds remaining to give Cornell its first defeat.

A key factor in the loss was the absence of sophomore quarterback Brendan Miller, who suffered a concussion late in last week’s game against Mansfield, and was unavailable for this game. As a result senior tri-captain Tim Bruhn, normally a wide receiver, took the majority of the snaps behind center. He completed 11-of-22 passes for 139 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

“I was impressed with how Tim Bruhn did,” said senior wide receiver Abe Mellinger. “He did really well stepping up, as well as [junior Riley Scott] being there running the ball for us.”

Despite Bruhn filling in admirably at quarterback, the lack of a true signal caller stood out, especially at the start of the game. In the first quarter, the Red fumbled three times — two off mishandled snaps. The offense was also silenced, earning just 65 yards in the first half, partially the result of conservative play calling, with the Red rushing the ball 24 times in the first half and passing on just nine occasions. Of those nine passes, almost all were either dump-offs to the running back or screens to the receivers.

Post also struggled in the first half, earning just three first downs and 44 total yards. Freshman Erich Broadrick started his first game at the quarterback position, and looked the part in the first half. Post also fumbled the ball three times and apart from one successful touchdown drive, the offense was unable to move the football.

Despite only gaining 65 yards, Cornell scored a touchdown on a nine-yard catch by Mellinger, and added two field goals in the first half to take the lead, 13-6, heading into the locker room. Even with the lead, the Red was disappointed that it was unable to capitalize on more opportunities in the first half.

“I can think of numerous opportunities when we in the red zone and we didn’t capitalize. We either got a field goal or no points at all,” Mellinger said.

After an uneventful third quarter, the level of play really picked up in the last quarter. Post running back Rashawn Hendricks scored a short two-yard touchdown to start the frame. Cornell threatened to score on its next possession, but senior running back Doug Famularo fumbled the ball and Post recovered. In the Eagles’ next possession, tight end Rashaun Reid caught a short pass before breaking several Cornell tackles and turning the play into a 50-yard gain.

“On one pass and run we missed seven tackles. Seven guys missed him, which set up another score,” explained co-head coach Bart Guccia.

Post finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown strike from Broadrick to wide receiver Tony Simpson to take the lead, 19-13.

Cornell responded quickly. On its next offensive play, Bruhn hit Mellinger on a perfectly timed quick slant, with the receiver avoiding a tackle to turn the short pass into a 55-yard touchdown — reclaiming the lead, 20-19. Despite the quick strike, Post still felt that it was in control.

“They took the momentum in the second half towards the end, when they got ahead,” Mellinger said. “That’s when we realized we need to play now. If we can realize that we need to take the momentum… we can run the ball down their throat and get the passes when we can and take the momentum ourselves and not wait until we are behind…that’s when we’ll really click as a team.”

Post responded with a nice drive, but missed a 36-yard field goal to regain the lead. After a three-and-out by the Red, Post marched down the field for the game-winning touchdown. At one point on the drive, the Eagles converted a third-and-9, ending any chance at a Cornell comeback.

“We had him closed off on the left inside the 10 … that was a third down play, then he scrambles around back there … and he completes a pass to get a first down,” Guccia recalled. “If [they have to] kick the field goal from the 15 or 16 yard line…I don’t know if [their kicker] can make it. That was a huge play; they made the play and we didn’t.”

Post scored with 36 seconds remaining, and Cornell was unable to put together a scoring drive at the end.

Overall, Guccia was disappointed with the tackling issues by his defense.

“The whole game was just a series of mistakes defensively and they should never have been in that position [to win],” he said. “They made the most of their opportunities at the end. We have to give them credit.”

The lone bright spot for the defense was the play of sophomore linebacker John Kelder was everywhere on the field, recording 10 tackles, while also intercepting a tipped ball at the end of the first half and blocking an extra point.

Cornell looks to work out the kinks this weekend against Princeton.

“Defensively, we have to work on tackling and we [also] blew a couple assignments here and there, so we have to make sure we don’t blow assignments,” Guccia said. “We have to go about our business and improve on the things we can improve on and hopefully we’ll be okay.”

Original Author: Albert Liao