October 24, 2015

Cornell Football Falls Short in Comeback Effort in 44-24 Loss to Brown

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Sophomore running back Josh Sweet played a big role for the Red in the team’s loss to Brown. (Courtesy of Cornell Athletics)

For the third week in a row, Cornell football fell behind early. But unlike the previous two weeks in which the Red found itself in a deficit and seemed to slow down later in the game, the team kept fighting. Although Cornell was unable to complete the comeback, losing to Brown, 44-24, head coach David Archer ’05 spoke highly of the team’s resiliency.

“I am so proud of how this team fought back,” Archer said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that’s faced this much adversity … We were down 28-3 at one point, and 34-10 at the half, and to come back and make it a game is just an unbelievable testament to these guys.”

The Bears (4-2, 2-1 Ivy League) jumped to a 21-0 lead just 10 minutes in the game. At the half, Cornell (0-6) trailed 34-10. The Red (0-6, 0-3 Ivy League) had two unanswered touchdowns in the second half to bring the game with 10, but Brown put the game away with a touchdown and a field goal of its own.

Just 36 seconds into the game, Brown wide receiver Alex Jette took advantage of some confusion on the field surrounding a penalty and got past Cornell’s secondary. Bears quarterback Marcus Fuller casually tossed the ball to him, and he ran untouched into the end zone for the first points of the game.

On the Bears’ next drive, it was Jette again who helped Brown score another touchdown. He totaled 50 yards on the drive, including a 28-yard gain that allowed the Bears to reach the 1-yard line. On the next play, Johnny Pena punched it in to give Brown a 14-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, after an offensive pass interference call, Cornell found itself backed way up in its own territory. On second-and-18, junior running back Dane Brown fumbled, and, when Brown took over, Pena easily ran into the end zone on the next play.

In such a deep hole early on, Archer praised the encourage that the seniors provided. He said that in previous games, he was the one motivating the team, but today the veterans of the team were vocal on the sideline in making sure the rest of the team stayed upbeat.

“The seniors started saying the same message that I’ve been saying for two and a half years, about playing the next play and never giving up and playing for pride, for themselves, for each other,” Archer said

Sophomore running back Jack Gellatly also said the seniors have been crucial to the team’s positive morale in spite of six straight losses to begin the season.

“I think we’ve been getting tremendous leadership from the seniors all year,” Gellatly said. “There’s a lot of guys which has ended up being really good for us because the’yre leading us in times like today when everybody can see us, but also so much off the field at times when people can’t see it … I feel really fortunate to play under the senior class.”

Later in the first quarter, the Red forced its first turnover since Colgate and its second overall this season when Miles Norris poked the ball out of the hands of Jette. Jatis then ran for 42 yards setting up a first-and-goal. Brown stymied the offense, forcing two incompletions. Joe Pierik came on and made the field goal.

In the second quarter, Brown tacked on another score to make it 28-3 when Fuller connected with Brian Strachan in the end zone. Fuller, the Ivy League’s leading passer, threw for 246 yards in the first half alone. His counterpart on Cornell, Robert Somborn struggled in the first half, overthrowing receivers. He ended the half with just 84 yards.

Somborn did have a touchdown late in the second half, when he connected with senior receiver Ben Rogers, cutting the lead to 18. But Brown came right back with a score of its own, making the halftime score 34-10.

In the second half, Cornell began to establish the run game, and the team began to put together a comeback. The Red got on the board in the third quarter when Somborn faked to Gellatly at the 6-yard line and tossed the ball to junior tight end Matt Sullivan. The score may have come through the air, but the drive was powered by strong rushing from the Red. Before the pass to Sullivan, Cornell had run seven straight plays on the ground.

On the Red’s next drive, after a couple of hard runs, the middle of the field opened up and Somborn connected with Rogers for a 49-yard touchdown. Just like the previous drive, the success of the rushing game allowed receivers to get open down field.

Cornell ended with 260 rushing yards, the most by the team since 2009. Overall, the team averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Gellatly led the team with 93 yards. Sophomore Josh Sweet was second with 60 yards and sophomore quarterback Jake Jatis rushed for 48, 42 of which came on the long run in the first quarter. Junior Dane Brown also added 39 yards.

“Dane was looking quick out there making some cuts,” Gellatly said. “Josh and I are probably a little more downhill style. Mixing it up I think helped us. It definitely started up front [with the offensive line]. [They had] a lot of movement.”

Brown responded with a field goal, putting the Bears up 13. Utilizing a rushing attack of its own, Brown burned almost six minutes off the clock.

On the ensuing Cornell possession, Somborn threw the ball away on three straight plays, and the Red turned the ball over on downs. Brown got the ball back and a couple plays later, Pena ran in his fourth touchdown, effectively ending the game.

With the game in the books, Cornell remains winless, but Archer said he’s hopeful for the rest of the season.

“I want to see us put it all together. I want to see what this team looks like when they play to their potential for 60 minutes,” Archer said. “I believe in these kids and I believe in our staff. I want to see what it looks like when it’s put together for the full 60.”

To read more about the running backs’ performance, click here.