Coming off of a bye week, Cornell has lost two games in a row and is struggling with a plethora of injuries on both sides of the ball. The Red will look to turn its fortunes around with their returning players, when they host Post Friday at Schoellkopf Field.
“We have really benefitted physically from the bye week,” said junior wide receiver Ryman Seeley. “We hope to be rejuvenated and ready to beat Post. It will be a challenging game that we need to win.”
The Red (1-3) suffered a heartbreaking loss at Chestnut Hill (2-2) on a touchdown in the final minutes of the contest. Cornell had come back from a 16-point deficit to take the lead. In the week before the bye, the Red was easily handled by reigning CSFL champions Army (4-1).
“We certainly have a chip on our shoulder after dropping two in a row, so we have been working really hard at practice in preparation for the game this week,” said sophomore quarterback Connor Ostrander. “Our emphasis has been on ending the season strong especially for the seniors who have their last three games coming up.”
Heading into the game, Post (0-4) ranks last in the eight-team league in both scoring offense and defense, scoring just 18 points of their own, compared to 152 points allowed to the opposition. They have been shutout twice in the process, including in a 64-0 home loss to Army last week.
The Red will have to prepare for the passing attack of the Eagles — freshman quarterback Buddy Enriquez has averaged 163.2 passing yards per game, and completes over 51 percent of his passes. His favorite target is senior wide receiver Jarrick Sharp, who has the second most receptions in the CSFL with 21, and has accrued 271 receiving yards over four games.
On the defensive side, the Eagles have three of the top 10 tacklers in the league. Despite the prowess of a few players, Post has allowed nearly 350 yards of total offense per game.
“The bye week gave us an opportunity to get healthy and look at the film of the previous weeks so we could correct our mistakes,” Ostrander said. “The coaches have done a great job preparing a game plan, and we are looking to execute that plan on Friday night, and come away with a win.”
Cornell will continue to utilize both senior Rob Pannullo and Ostrander under center, employing the philosophy that whichever quarterback is having more success will keep taking snaps.
“It is going to be more of the same this week in terms of the quarterback situation,” said co-head coach Bart Guccia. “Pannullo has been playing some wide receiver and defensive back, so we feel comfortable trying to get our best players on the field.”
The Red will also have returning star senior running back Kevin Nathanson, who was injured in the team’s opening loss against Navy. Last season, Nathanson accumulated nearly 800 all-purpose yards, but has been limited to just four series so far this year.
“Nathanson is finally healthy, and is going to get back onto the field,” Guccia said. “He is going to add a lot to our offense moving forward.”
The Red’s defense has struggled for much of the season, allowing 124 points in their first four games. However, Guccia believes that the players coming back from injury should shore up any holes defensively.
Last year, the Red defeated Post, 44-6, on the road. This game will mark Cornell’s first home contest in over a month.
After the matchup with the Eagles, the Red will be back on the road when they travel to first place Penn Oct. 28.
Cornell takes on Post Friday at 7 p.m. on Schoellkopf.