By SHAN DHALIWAL
The Cornell sprint football team trailed to Franklin Pierce this weekend at halftime, 15-7. Head coach Bart Guccia took his team and told his players to treat the second half like a completely new game.
“Coach Guccia’s theme for the entire year [has been] finishing,” said junior linebacker Chris D’Ambrosio. “You put up points and the defense doesn’t let up any points.”
D’Ambrosio had six unassisted tackles, eight assisted tackles and two sacks in a great defensive game for the Red. While the team struggled in the first, something definitely changed in the second half. The Red fixed its play and outscored the Ravens, 29-0.
“In the second half we … played with a little more confidence [and] stopped turning the ball over,” said senior wide receiver Marlon Rainville. “That allowed us to make drives all the way down the field and … score.”
Junior offensive lineman Caleb Minsky pointed to the defense as a key factor in the team’s win.
“The defense was playing great throughout the first half [and] actually scored seven points,” he said. “In the second half the biggest thing was that the offense started to click.”
In the third, junior quarterback Rob Pannullo threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Trevor Marrero to complete the Red’s first possession that quarter. Pannullo also ran for 22 yards into the end zone later on in the third quarter. The Red went into the fourth quarter up 21-15.
The scoring barrage did not stop in the third quarter. A 14-yard touchdown run from junior running back Kevin Nathanson and six-yard run from freshman quarterback Connor Ostrander — who replaced Pannullo late in the game — finished off the Red’s 36-15 victory in the fourth quarter.
“As a team, our mentality is that we need to get the job done, at the end of the day, and Coach Guccia has done a really good job ingraining that in the team’s psyche,” Minsky said. “Because we’ve been practicing finishing all year we were able to do it during the game.”
This weekend, the Red will take on Army West Point on Schoellkopf, hoping to carry the positive momentum from the first two games into defeating this very strong team on home turf. The Red lost 49-7 last year against Army and last beat the Mules in 2010.
“They’re a great team but we’re going to prepare for them like we did for the last two teams,” Minsky said. “We’re going to try and execute as close to perfectly as possible in practice so we’re able to do it in the game.”
Each game in a sprint football season is equally important, and it is essential the Red treat this game like any other, despite Army’s prowess.
“We’re going to treat this like any other game,” D’Ambrosio said. “The only difference is that army has a very high-tempo, fast-paced offense. We’re going to have to be in the best condition that we’ll have to be in all season to play this team.”