This post has been updated.
A Homecoming crowd cheering from the stands wasn’t enough to encourage the Red to a victory Saturday afternoon, as Cornell fell to Georgetown, 14-8. The team never took a lead.
Once again, the Red (1-2, 0-1 Ivy League) struggled in scoring position. Cornell moved the ball inside the Georgetown (4-1) 30-yard line on two separate occasions in the first half but came out of the first 30 minutes with zero points.
“We just couldn’t get any sort of rhythm offensively. And when we did, something just seemed to happen — to sputter,” said head coach David Archer ’05. “That just kind of kills the sustained drives.”
The team’s failure to capitalize on scoring opportunities throughout the contest led to its demise in its first home game of 2019.
Over the last three weeks, Archer’s offense has shown little maturation as it continues to struggle to match up with other teams.
“We did move the ball up and down the field, but we just kind of went backwards in the red zone,” said senior quarterback Mike Catanese, who missed last week’s game with a concussion. “I need to be more efficient on third down, and that’s what we’re going to work on this week.”
Like in its two tilts prior, Cornell’s defense was stronger than its offense — but it still wasn’t at the level it needs to be. Two big plays — one for a touchdown and one that set up a score — did in the defense.
“I think we were a little down this week compared to last week,” senior defensive lineman Nate Weber said. “We were really hyped up to go to Yale and try and get a win over there, so I think we were probably a little down but still firing on all cylinders.”
Catanese threw an interception on the Red’s first possession and junior kicker Garrett Patla missed a 44-yard field goal in the waning minutes of the second quarter.
After Catanese’s interception, the Hoyas — buoyed by 33-yard pass from Gunther Johnson to Michael Dereus along with other chunk gains — marched into the end zone and picked up a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
The Cornell defense suffered a blow early in the second frame as junior linebacker Lance Blass was ejected on a targeting penalty. Despite this loss, the Red stood tall and held the Hoyas scoreless throughout the quarter. Still, the offense still couldn’t find any semblance of rhythm.
“[We have a] next man up mentality,” Weber said of losing players mid-game. “It doesn’t matter who goes down. We got guys prepared.”
In the final minutes of the third quarter, the Red pinned the Hoyas deep in their own territory and nearly picked up a safety after a bad snap. After forcing a punt, Cornell received the ball from midfield and capitalized on the prime field position. Senior running back Harold Coles bulldozed his way to a 20-yard gain and closed out the drive with a five-yard touchdown run as the clock hit 0:00 for the third quarter.
Coles, the Red’s strongest asset on offense, did not exhibit the same explosiveness against Georgetown as in the season’s first two games. Coles finished with 71 total yards after eclipsing 100 at both Marist and Yale.
“Harold’s been kind of nagged with a hamstring [injury], so that extra Harold Coles gear — you know, it’ll come,” Archer said. “He doesn’t really practice all week and then [it] depends on how he feels … We played him, but just couldn’t get him going through this one.”
Following the Coles touchdown, sophomore running back Delonte Harrell swept right and picked up the two-point conversion to tie the game at eight apiece.
After both teams exchanged punts to kick off the fourth quarter, Georgetown’s Joshua Tomas sparked some momentum on the Hoya side with a 23-yard return. From there, Georgetown only needed three plays to reach the end zone with Johnson capping out the drive by completing a 39-yard touchdown throw to Cameron Clayton.
The Hoyas were penalized for delay of game, and they missed the ensuing PAT, perhaps providing Cornell a glimmer of hope.
Unfortunately for the Red, it never seized that opportunity. On Cornell’s next possession, Catanese rumbled off a big gain on the ground but saw it all come back on a holding call.
It only got worse from there as the Red punted and was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play, placing the ball all the way on Cornell’s 35-yard line with under four minutes to play.
Georgetown called three runs, forcing Archer to burn all three of his timeouts. On 4th-and-8, Johnson threw a pass to Tomas, which he appeared to bobble as he went out of bounds. Initially called incomplete, the play was later ruled a complete pass upon further review.
Tomas, who sliced the Red defense for 65 yards on six catches, had delivered the final dagger. As the clock wound down, the Hoyas picked up their fourth straight victory and sent the Red’s season record down below .500.
Reflecting on the positives from the loss, Archer was succinct.
“It wasn’t an Ivy League game.”
The Red will look to bolster its conference record as it ventures to Cambridge to face Harvard next week.