Cornell sprint football’s atypically long two week break — an unexpectedly cancelled game followed by a bye week — clearly paid dividends, as a well-rested and hyper-energized Red scored the most points in a single game since 2015 — enough to edge out Chestnut Hill 49-41.
According to associate head coach Bob Gneo, Cornell’s success was largely powered by a familiar tandem of senior quarterback Connor Ostrander and senior Brooks Panhans.
“One of our biggest drivers was Connor Ostrander, who had over 160 yards on the ground and threw for 220 yards, with three touchdowns,” Gneo said. “Panhans also played a very key role, scoring a touchdown.”
Cornell ended the first quarter trailing by a daunting 21-3 margin, and Chestnut Hill looking primed to easily secure its third win of the season.
But the Red was seemingly undeterred by the early, grim deficit. With 3:47 left in the first, junior running back Connor Young scored a one-yard run, to catalyze what became an offensive turnaround for the team. Ostrander put up three touchdown passes in the second quarter, as well as one from sophomore Aneesh Agarwal — translating into 26 unanswered points that pushed Cornell to a 35-23 score by halftime.
Chestnut Hill added 10 points in the third quarter to move back into the lead, but the Red did not stay behind for long — with Panhans throwing to freshman Colton Kotecki for a touchdown 46 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Ostrander later connecting with junior running back Will Griffen to finish the game 49-41.
The victory brings the Red’s total record to 2-1.
“This was a very big and important win for us,” Gneo said.
While Cornell’s offense was unquestionably strong, Gneo did highlight a pressing need to improve its special teams, which has proved to be a relatively weak link in an otherwise robust roster.
“Clearly our biggest weakness is special teams,” Gneo noted. “We need to work on that for us to have a chance to win out against St. Thomas Aquinas.”
The Red travels to St. Thomas Aquinas this Saturday in what will be its first conference of the game of the year. While this is St. Thomas’ first year fielding a sprint football team, it currently sits atop a 2-1 record and has performed unexpectedly strongly.
The outcome of the matchup — which pits two teams against each other with identical records — will play a significant role in how Cornell finishes its season, a fact Gneo was quick to point out.
“This will be a big test to see where exactly we stand,” he said. “This is our first bigger game — really, our biggest game of the year so far.”