With one second left in the game, the Cornell sprint football team held a 17--13 lead over Pennsylvania. With one second left, the Red crowded the sidelines ready to rush the field in celebration of an upset beyond comprehension. With one second left, Penn literally shook in its pants, unwilling to face the ridicule awaiting it at home. But there was still that one second left to play.
Penn lined up at the Cornell 18--yard line, having one last chance to avoid being beaten by a team that hadn't even scored on it in their last four contests. Quarterback James Donapel ran a quick snap and dropped back to pass.
The Cornell defense had read the play well. Suddenly, the Quaker offensive line began to break down, and a Red lineman's hands almost grabbed Donapel for a sack. But the wily quarterback stepped up into the pocket and drifted to his left. After staring into a sea of Red defensive backs, he gave a quick look his right and let the ball fly.
The crowd saw the play unfold much before the Red defense did: Penn wideout Tim Murphy had quietly slipped through the line and ran to the far right side of the field. The ball floated to him, he turned, and let it drop in his hands.
Touchdown Penn, 19-17.
The Quakers had avoided the upset as the Red was left in utter shock. It dropped from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the matter of one second.
"We haven't been winning a lot, and we came back from ten points down. It was a big letdown," commented sophomore Michael Ormsby.
But, in fact, all was not lost. And in spite of its initial disappointment, the Red extracted many positives. First, a quarterback situation that had looked dire at best, is suddenly one of the brightest spots on the team. Senior tri--captain Sunil Gupta and junior Charlie Tam rotated throughout the game, providing an effective one--two punch of running and drop--back passing. Tam had trouble igniting an offense that hadn't been active since the 1999 season. The Red mustered four total yards in the first quarter.
But when Gupta entered the game three minutes before half--time, the team suddenly came alive.
"In the beginning of the game we wanted to run to attack their defense," Ormsby explained. "That wasn't working so the coaches decided to open it up. We attacked their secondary, and we found their weakness."
Gupta completed two passes to sophomore Henry Kim for 29 yards. Four downs later, freshman kicker Chris Garnic nailed a 27--yard field goal to leave the score at 10--3 going into the half. Tam sparked a much--needed ground game in the fourth--quarter, scoring a touchdown on a two--yard dash.
Second, the defense proved that it was as solid as last year's version, if not as dominant. The Red held Penn to only three points over a crucial third quarter, allowing the team to stay in the game.
Third, the running game proved it could be relied upon as sophomore Dean Coccaro ran 19 times for 82 yards, many of which came in two key time--consuming fourth quarter drives. Tam added 22 yards on his 19 carries and the team rang up 114 total yards on the ground.
All three of these positives came together in the fourth quarter -- one of the most impressive quarters of football in recent memory.
The quarter began with Cornell down 13--3, holding the ball on its own 22--yard line. With Gupta at the Q and Coccaro and Tam alternating in the backfield, the team reached the Penn 43--yard line before stalling for three downs. Fourth down and a long four yards to go, a crowd of over 300 clamored for anything but a punt.
Cullen sent out his special teams unit nonetheless, and Garnic lined up for another booming punt, having averaged 37 yards per kick. The ball was hiked, and the Penn defense setup for the return. But the ball didn't reach Garnic. Coccaro cut in front of its path, and ran around the right end for a 20--yard gain.
Three plays later, Gupta dropped back and lofted a floater into the endzone to sophomore Michael Ormsby. Ormsby stopped, jumped over his defender, and scored, cutting the Quaker lead to three, 13--10.
"The coaches put me in, and I had a few inches on the defender. Sunil threw a good pass that was easy for me to get to," Ormsby said. "It was exciting because [the play] got the offense rolling in the fourth quarter."
Then, midway through the fourth quarter, Penn had the ball at its own 19--yard line. It called a routine run up the middle, but the Red defense forced, and recovered, a fumble.
After a four--yard Tam run, Gupta almost hit Ormsby in the endzone again, but the tight end couldn't hang on. On third down, Gupta handed off to Tam who took off to his right, but had nowhere to go. He eyed the defenders, suddenly stopped, rifled the ball down the field and hit Ormsby for a nine-yard gain. The drive eventually led to a second Cornell touchdown. The score now stood 17--13.
Penn got the ball back with five minutes left in the game, but the Red defense held on. Senior tri--captain Angelo Palmieri distributed two bone--jarring hits along the way, preventing two all but certain completions. The Cornell offense got the ball back with 2:14 left, but couldn't run out the clock, and Penn had its final chance, sitting on the 50--yard line with 33 seconds left. Penn drove quickly to the Cornell 18--yard line with five seconds left. On third down, Donapel's throw into the endzone was almost intercepted by junior Adam Romeiser -- an interception that would have ended the game. The clock stopped with one second left, waiting for Murphy's heroics.
"Even though we were devastated by the loss, we have a lot of things to look forward to, especially from an offensive standpoint," Ormsby said.
Cornell next plays Princeton this Saturday at 4 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin
By OLIVIA MATTYASOVSZKY
This past week, the women’s basketball team traveled all over the East Coast for Thanksgiving break, first playing University of Buffalo Upstate and then Marshall University on Friday.
Playing the University of Buffalo was going to be a challenge and the Red was preparing for the team’s speed and agility on both sides of the ball. In order to counteract that speed, the Red worked on its defensive play as a team, and on the other side of the court, getting the ball off the perimeter and into the paint, where Cornell had the advantage in height.
Forwards junior Nia Marshall and sophomore Christine Ehland led the Red in scoring, finishing with nine points each. Freshman forward Caroline Shelquist added eight of her own, keeping Cornell’s numbers solidly with the bigs.
“We needed inside points, but they were effective with their double teams unfortunately,” said senior Maddie Campbell. “Our shots didn’t fall and we were out-rebounded. Overall it was a tough loss we are trying to learn from.”
Despite having great possession time, Cornell’s shots just could not find their mark, and the team dropped its first game of the break to the Bills, 41-59.
“Defense has been something we have really focused on so far this year,” said junior guard Kerri Moran. “We knew the Buffalo players were fast, especially the guards, and we prepared to play team defense, not just one-on-one defense. Our shooting percentage wasn’t great against Buffalo, but we also didn’t finish plays where we needs to finish them and ultimately let them get too much offensively and we didn’t capitalize defensively.”
Though team defense was the focus, junior guard Megan LeDuc took three defensive charges for the team, as well as doling out the majority of the team’s assists.
Just three days later, the team traveled down to West Virginia to play the Thundering Herd. The home team entered the contest at 4-0 and after two relentless halves, extended that streak to 5-0, beating Cornell, 73-47.
The Thundering Herd proved to be the opposite kind of team from the Bills, known for jacking up threes and pushing the tempo on offense compared to the high pressure defense the Bills showed the Red earlier in the week. With such aggressive offense, Cornell got aggressive itself.
Marshall had four fouls during the game and the three other forwards, Campbell, Caroline Shelquist and Nicholle Aston all had three apiece. The fouls limited their playing time and gave Marshall the momentum it needed to keep racking up the score.
“After our loss against Buffalo, we really wanted to key in on defense and running our offense efficiently,” Moran said. “We also wanted to maintain 40 minutes of solid energy. Throughout the game we had sparks of good defense or we ran the floor well, but we stopped playing well when Marshall took away our strengths.”
Campbell said the Red’s focus was on containing the players and the tempo of the game.
“We were focused on containing their players since we knew going in they were fast and like to get to the basket,” she said. “Offensively, we were hoping to control the tempo and make them make mistakes on defense.”
On offense, Cornell’s guards took the reins this time, with both Moran and LeDuc notching nine points, while the bigs rebounded down low. Marshall and Campbell had six rebounds each.
Despite the loss, the two teams the Red faced this past week offer unique ways to learn going forward.
“Going forward, we are obviously disappointed with the results of this week,” Campbell said. “Now we have to focus on learning from our loss and not making the same mistakes in the future.”