Cornell football players celebrated under the lights at Princeton last year after pulling off an unlikely comeback to upset the rolling Tigers.
The year before, however, Princeton buried Cornell 56-7 at Schoellkopf. The Red has not forgotten quarterback John Lovett and his offensive outburst.
“Seven touchdowns?” reaffirmed senior captain and linebacker Reis Seggebruch at Tuesday media availability. “Yeah, we remember that.”
Cornell (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) will travel to Princeton (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) for the second year in a row this week to face the undefeated Tigers and the top-ranked offense in the nation. While many would balk in the face of juggernaut, Cornell is drawing off its 13-point fourth quarter comeback and 29-28 last-minute win.
“They’re hot but they were hot last year when we upset them,” said head coach David Archer ’05.
“Hot” might be an understatement for a team that routinely puts up more than 40 points and backs it up with a top-10 defense, but last year’s Princeton looked similar. The 2017 Tigers had scored 50 points in three straight games and entered their game against Cornell with the third-best defense in the country. Cornell’s defense sees this game as a chance to prove something.
“We’re really excited,” Seggebruch said. “We’ve given up big plays throughout the season that have hindered us from being recognized as the defense we believe we are, so I think this is a good opportunity to show people on a big stage that we can compete with the best offenses in the country.”
But there is also a concerning similarity to the 2016 thrashing Cornell took at the hands of Princeton. Quarterback John Lovett, who missed last year’s game with an injury, will be taking the snaps for the Tigers Saturday. In 2016, Lovett had seven touchdowns against the Red: four passing, two rushing and one receiving.
Like Seggebruch, Archer remembers.
“We’re hungry for some revenge for Lovett’s seven touchdowns in 2016,” Archer said.
The Princeton offense is also bolstered by star running back Charlie Volker and two at wide receiver in Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson. Through six games Volker has 10 touchdowns, Horsted nine and Carlson five. Lovett is responsible for 20 touchdowns; the entire Red offense has scored 17 touchdowns this season.
Cornell will go into Saturday wary of Lovett and company’s offensive abilities, but Princeton, looking to move one step closer to an Ivy ring, will be equally wary of Cornell after last year’s loss. The Red will look to build on last year’s success rather than settle.
“I was just watching film with [offensive coordinator Joe Villapiano] and we were looking at all the things we could’ve done differently,” said senior wide receiver Lars Pedersen of last year’s victory. “I think we actually could’ve cleaned up a lot of things.”
Whether another upset or another gut-wrenching blowout is in the cards, Cornell’s players will try to leave it all on the field.
“I want to put in every amount of effort I can every day of every week to be able to look back and not have any regrets,” Pedersen said. “We’re all on the same page with that.”