This article will be updated.
In the battle of the ’Nells, Cornell and Bucknell both sought their first victories of the season after getting off to slow starts. To start the season, the Red sustained two competitive losses to VMI and Yale, while Bucknell was outscored by its opponents, 106-9, in its first three games.
Though the Red had a better track record than the Bison in the early stages of the season, that did not show on Saturday afternoon. After holding a narrow lead through the first three quarters, Cornell lost control as Bucknell surged with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to defeat the Red, 21-10.
Both the Red and the Bisons struggled to get things moving early, failing to score in the first quarter before entering halftime with a touchdown each.
Penalties and struggles in the run game plagued the Red’s first two drives. The highlight of the first two drives was a 47-yard dime thrown by senior quarterback Ben Mays to senior wide receiver Curtis Raymond III, but the drive ultimately stalled at the Bucknell 39-yard line.
Senior punter Koby Kiefer landed a beautiful punt to give the Bison possession at their own 1-yard line. Fifth-year cornerback Kenan Clarke’s defensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Dominic Lyles allowed the Bison to gain 15 yards, but they were unable to move the sticks before punting back to the Red.
On the next drive, Mays found Raymond again for another deep gain, bringing the Red to first-and-goal. Senior running back Delonte Harrell capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run up the middle to give Cornell a 7-0 lead.
Bucknell immediately responded with a touchdown drive of its own, opting to alternate the more mobile quarterback Tyler Beverett with passing specialist quarterback Nick Semptimphelter. After driving to the Cornell 1-yard line, Beverett rushed in for a touchdown on a QB fake to tie it up for the Bison.
After a rare sack allowed by the Cornell offensive line against Mays on third-and-long, Kiefer’s punt took a fortunate bounce to the Bucknell 30-yard line with under five minutes left in the half. Sophomore defensive lineman Connor Morgan delivered a huge sack on Beverett to force a third-and-long that the Bison were unable to convert.
With two minutes left in the half, the Red got the ball back deep in its own zone after facing a penalty for running into the kicker. Mays put together a quick and efficient drive, including a pass to senior wide receiver Devan Cross past midfield, before throwing an interception to Bucknell safety Jonathan Searcy on third down, forfeiting the ball in field goal range and bringing the half to a close.
Although Bucknell got the ball to start the half, the Bison were stopped on 3rd-and-8 and punted to the Cornell 24-yard line. Mays drove the Red to score on the next drive after a designed eight-yard QB run up the middle and a deep pass to fifth-year wide receiver Turner DePalma placed Cornell in the red zone. After failing to convert on third down, Red kicker Scott Lees booted a 27-yard field goal to give the Red a 10-7 lead with 7:34 remaining in the quarter.
On the next drive, Bucknell was again forced to punt after senior cornerback Kolby McGowan stopped a Beverett run on 3rd-and-11. On Cornell’s subsequent drive, Cornell was forced to punt after Mays missed his targets on a few deep passes and on a disrupted screen pass. Bucknell’s linebacker Ben Allen was injured during the drive.
From this point forward, the game started to change for the Red. Bucknell quickly capitalized on a few big catches by wide receiver Marques Owens to bring the ball to the Cornell sixteen yard line. To start the fourth quarter, running back Danny Meuser pushed for a fourth-down conversion and then Bucknell took the lead off of a touchdown reception by tight end Christian Spugnardi. The Bison, already possessing the momentum, did not let go for the rest of the contest.
On the Red’s ensuing drive, Mays was picked off by cornerback Sterling Deary, whose dancing return navigated the Bison all the way up to the Cornell 28-yard line. In great field position, Bucknell quickly capitalized, moving the sticks and then topping off the short drive with a two-yard QB fake run by Semptimphelter.
Down 21-10, the Red needed a spark. Senior wide receiver Javonni Cunningham appeared to provide that spark with a big kickoff return to the Bucknell 45-yard line. Fifth-year quarterback Richie Kenney then replaced Mays, and the decision appeared to pay off. Kenney completed passes to senior wide receiver Thomas Glover and fifth-year wide receiver Alex Kuzy, moving the Red down to the goal line.
Cornell could not punch it in, and at the most inopportune time, Kenney was stripped of the ball. Bucknell recovered in the end zone for a touchback, effectively ending the Red’s hopes of a comeback with five minutes remaining in the game.
From there, Bucknell went into clock control, and the Bison secured a 21-10 victory over the Red. Cornell, now 0-3, faces a tough date in Cambridge next weekend to face a Harvard team that pulled off a 38-13 victory over No. 24 Holy Cross on Saturday.