Under the lights at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia, the Cornell Sprint Football team suffered their third loss of the season.
Hoping for their first win, the Red started strong, with a forced three-and-out giving them the ball at their own 43 yard line for their first drive of the game. An 11 yard rush on 1st down meant that the Red was already in Penn territory, looking poised to shock the Quakers, who were coming off a 55-28 victory over a Mansfield University team that took down Cornell in a rather gruesome 48-3 season opener the week earlier.
The Red’s fate would change as the play was called back due to an illegal block, setting up 1st and 25. To make matters worse, Cornell was penalized for a false start on the next play, turning their red-zone hopes into a difficult 1st and 30. After a net gain of three yards across the next three downs, the Red punted back to the Quakers. The punt unit looked much sharper on Friday night, as their punt was handled cleanly and sent for 45 yards, only their second punt of the game of the punt-heavy season to go as far.
From there, Penn took control of the game. The Quakers immediately strung together an 11 play, 75 yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead. Then, after forcing a turnover on downs after Cornell’s attempt on 4th and 13 from their own 17 yard line, the Quakers quickly took a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Penn running away with the game. With three offensive drives that resulted in negative yards gained, the Red failed to get anything substantial going on offense, while the Quakers began to dominate, scoring four touchdowns in six drives.
“We had a couple of mistakes on punting again that put our defense in a bad position and also we’re really fighting the injury bug on the defensive side of the ball,” Head Coach Bob Gneo said of his defense. “That’s not an excuse because we tell the kids all the time that you don’t practice to be a backup — you’re one play away from being the starter.”
After halftime, Cornell’s woes continued as an opening drive fumble led to yet another Penn touchdown, bringing them to a 49-0 deficit within five minutes of the start of the second half. The Red would be able to weather the storm for the remaining 25 minutes of gametime, ultimately falling 63-0.
While the Red have been attacked via the air in their two previous games this season, Penn’s ground game was the driving force in Friday night’s blowout. Penn rushed for 335 yards and six touchdowns. On the contrary, Cornell rushed for a net total of 20 yards across 37 attempts, averaging out to about 0.5 yards per carry.
“The biggest issue is that we shoot ourselves in the foot quite a bit,” Gneo said. “We’ll get a drive going, four or five plays in a row, everything’s going good and then we get a holding penalty or an offsides. Or we miss an assignment that sets us back and we struggle to overcome a third and plus 10.”
If the Red want to be competitive this season, something needs to change. After three games, the team has been outscored 143-15. They will hope to change their season’s fate next Saturday at Schoellkopf against Saint Thomas Aquinas College.