As sprint football entered its weekend matchup, the Army Black Knights (3-1) were billed to be a formidable opponent, and Cornell (1-3) quickly learned that playing at West Point was as difficult as they expected. The Knights, who won the CSFL last season, took the contest, 43-12, after a dominant first quarter in which Army scored on all four of its possessions.
Prior to the matchup, co-head coach Terry Cullen indicated that senior quarterback Robert Pannullo would take the majority of snaps under center. However, after the Red could only muster a net of 15 yards on its four first quarter drives, Pannullo was repositioned to wide receiver, and sophomore Connor Ostrander took over as quarterback.
“Ostrander made some plays right when he got into the game, so we decided to move Pannullo to wide receiver and let Ostrander keep playing quarterback,” co-head coach Bart Guccia said. “Pannullo did not do anything wrong.”
Not only was the offense stagnant for the Red, but the defense also allowed over 200 yards in the first quarter to the potent Knight offense. Army was able to convert three of its first four series for touchdowns, with sophomore quarterback Keegan West connecting with three different receivers on each score.
“We had planned to put Ostrander in, and we seemed to be having some success offensively, so we kept him at quarterback,” Guccia said. “Pannullo ended up catching one of our only touchdowns at wide receiver, so the move worked out for us.”
After a slow start, the Red was able to assert its presence in the second quarter, as it recovered two Army fumbles, and subsequently scored its first touchdown against the Knights since 2014.
Army led Cornell, 29-10, through the first two quarters.
Needing a spark because its offense was having trouble moving the ball, Cornell elected to begin the second half with an onside kick, which was recovered by the Red on its own 46-yard line.
Despite the effective special teams play, Ostrander and the offense were stuffed by the efficient Army defense, handing the ball right back to the home team, which led to yet another Army touchdown and extended the team’s lead to 36-10.
With just under a minute left in the third quarter, Army sophomore backup quarterback Brady Miller found the end zone with a 15-yard touchdown rush.
In a relatively uneventful fourth quarter, freshman linebacker Donald Stimpson was able to force a safety with 3:55 remaining in the game, which provided a glimmer of hope for the Red.
However, after 60 minutes of competition, the Knights soundly defeated the Red, 43-12, for the team’s sixth consecutive victory over Cornell.
Although the game was relatively one-sided, some bright spots for the Red heading forward included Ostrander’s performance at quarterback, junior Ryman Seeley’s performance at wide receiver, and junior Evan Ball’s performance at running back. Ostrander ended the night with 144 passing yards, Seeley caught six passes for 65 yards and Ball led the team with 32 yards on the ground against an Army defense that only allowed an average of 17 rushing yards through its first three games.
“It was another tough loss, but Army is a really solid team, and we knew that going to their place to play would be a big challenge for us,” Seeley said. “They were able to move the ball through the air, and it helped them get a big lead early on.”
“Ultimately, the lead they built on us early was too much for us to overcome, but I felt that we gave Army a good fight.”
This marks the second consecutive loss for the Red, who was stunned last week on the road by Chestnut Hill 29-24.
“Losing twice in a row is never fun, but we have a bye week ahead of us to prepare for Post, so I expect to win,” Seeley said.
Cornell will look to get back in the win column after a bye week, when they host Post on Oct. 21 at Schoellkopf Field. Last season, the Red defeated the Eagles 44-6.
“In terms of the second half of the season, it’s like a brand new year for us,” said senior running back Kevin Nathanson. “We have a week off to get everybody healthy and to get prepared for Post.”