NEWARK, Del. — In a 27-10 loss to Delaware on Saturday, all three of Cornell football’s quarterbacks saw meaningful playing time as head coach David Archer ’05 had planned. But none of the three had much success against a tough Blue Hens defense.
“We’ve got to create a little more of a spark,” Archer said of his offense, which racked up just 157 total yards before a last-minute 75-yard touchdown drive when the game was lost.
A week one non-league game against a tough Delaware opponent doesn’t have Archer panicked about his gameplan on offense going forward. He said postgame he plans to continue using senior Dalton Banks, sophomore Richie Kenney and junior Mike Catanese under center.
“It would have to be something we would see on the film,” Archer said when asked if he plans to change the quarterback QB approach. “Just like gut reaction after the game, no [change].”
Despite going against a Delaware team playing its third game, Banks said earlier in the week that the Red’s schemes, unknown by its opponent, could help Cornell catch the Blue Hens’ defense off guard. On the first and last drive of the game, that belief reared its head. Every other drive, it didn’t.
Led by Banks, the Red looked to be in business on the game’s first series. A 64-yard drive, which included 19-yard rush for junior Harold Coles on a key 3rd-and-3, stalled in the red zone, but junior Nickolas Null’s chip shot field goal gave Cornell the game’s first points.
“We came out strong, drove the field, wanted a touchdown but came away with points which is always good on the opening drive,” said Banks, whose 10 completions were the most of the three Cornell passers. He was 10-of-17 for 54 yards through the air.
While Kenney and Catanese saw action, Banks occupied the “starter” role. He led the offense onto the field for its first drive and had 17 of the Red’s 33 passing attempts.
Whether it was Banks or one of his younger teammates under center, the Cornell offense couldn’t get anything done anytime other than its first and last drives of the game. Catanese’s touchdown pass to Davy Lizana on the Red’s final drive salvaged a touchdown for the Red but was far too late despite the defense keeping the game within reach. Catanese was 4-for-5 for 53 yards and a touchdown on the garbage-time series. He also picked up nine yards on two rushes on the scoring drive.
“[Delaware] became a little more aggressive in the box and we would try to get them over the top and we just couldn’t make the plays downfield,” Archer said.
After the field goal drive, the Cornell defense forced a Blue Hens three-and-out. Taking over at his own 26, Banks, on 3rd-and-10, threw deep for senior running back Chris Walker, but the pass was a bit high and bounced off Walker’s hands for an incompletion. Instead of a long gain into Delaware territory, the missed connection led to the first of four first-half Cornell three-and-outs.
While the air attack lagged, so did the ground game. The Red’s committee of running backs struggled to move the ball against the tough Delaware front seven after the first-quarter scoring drive. Cornell had 91 total rushing yards, 51 of which came on the opening drive.
Set to face preseason Ivy favorite Yale in Ithaca for Homecoming next weekend, the Red will hope to see its three-QB and multiple-tailback strategies pay dividends. Archer said he is hopeful that Walker, who had just one reception and no runs Saturday, will continue to work his way back from last year’s season-ending injury and contribute more in upcoming Ivy League contests.
“What we have to do is get to the film and correct the things that we can correct,” Archer said. “[We’ll] take what we do and adapt it to our next opponent.”