Football was on the road for the second straight week this Saturday, traveling to New Jersey to take on Princeton. Seeking its first five-win season since 2011, the Red was unable to put competitive drives together against Princeton’s vaunted defense, falling, 35-9.
Cornell (4-3, 1-3 Ivy) entered the contest having secured its first Ivy League win of the season against Brown last Saturday. Playing without starting sophomore running back Eddie Tillman, the Red faced a tall task against Princeton’s No. 2 ranked run defense.
Princeton (7-0, 4-0 Ivy) had its biggest win of the season last week, routing Harvard 37-10 in Cambridge. The Tigers is seeking its first undefeated season since 2018.
The Red started the game on offense, but a quick three-and-out gave the ball back to Princeton. The Tigers put together a drive into Cornell territory before stalling at the 29-yard line. Opting to attempt a field goal, the Red’s special teams unit stepped up, blocking the kick.
Two turnovers in Princeton territory were killer for the Red, with the first coming on its second drive. Mixing the pass and the rush, Cornell was able to work the ball down to a goal-to-go opportunity. After failing to punch it in on first or second down, sophomore quarterback Jameson Wang threw into triple coverage, getting picked off in the back of the endzone.
The Cornell defense stood strong against Princeton’s high-flying offense. Sophomore lineman Muhammad-Ali Kobo had his biggest game of the year, recording two sacks. The first set up a punt on Princeton’s second drive.
Wang’s second interception came on the ensuing drive, following a good-looking 20-yard pass to senior wide receiver Thomas Glover. It set the Tigers up with favorable field position at its own 47.
It took 18 minutes for either team to get on the board. The connection of quarterback Blake Stenstrom to wide receiver Andrei Iosivas proved deadly all day. The two linked up on a 26-yard pass, followed shortly after by a 15-yard touchdown pass. The Red was able to block the extra point attempt, but the Tigers had the lead, 6-0.
Cornell struggled to generate offense throughout the game, going three-and-out following the Princeton touchdown. Getting the ball back, it was once again Stenstrom to Iosivas for six, this time for 36-yards on a deep post. The Red struggled to cover the speedy Iosivas one-on-one all day, and after a failed two-point attempt, Princeton led, 12-0.
It took until the final seconds of the half for Cornell to get its first points. Powered by a 27 yard rush from Wang, the Red was able to knock a 42-yard field goal through as time expired. Cornell went into the locker room trailing, 12-3.
The second half began with promise for the Red, as the defense was able to force a stop. This was short-lived, however, as disaster struck on the punt. Glover muffed the fair catch, and the Tigers pounced on it to set up an immediate goal-to-go opportunity.
Three players later, it was Stenstrom taking it himself on an option play. The Tigers extended its lead to 19-3.
Sensing the mounting urgency, the Red put together its best drive of the game – a 16-play, 81-yard campaign. Relying almost exclusively on the rush, Cornell worked the ball down inside the 10-yard line. On second-and-goal, Wang rolled to his right and fired a strike to the front corner of the endzone to junior wide receiver Nicholas Laboy.
What could have been a momentum builder was stunted on the two-point attempt. Wang was intercepted in the endzone, setting up a 100-yard return for the Tigers, stealing the two points back. Princeton retained a two possession lead, 21-9.
Cornell appeared to have some momentum in the fourth quarter, forcing a Princeton punt on the following drive. Wang was able to complete a 19-yard pass to junior wide receiver Will Kenner, but on his next pass, he tossed his third interception.
Set up with a short field, the Tigers looked to put the game after reach. The Red’s defense forced Princeton to a fourth down, but on fourth-and-three from the Cornell 16, Stenstrom completed a 15-yard pass to A.J. Barber.
One play later, Ryan Butler put the nail in the coffin with a one-yard touchdown rush. The Tigers held a commanding 28-9 lead with just under nine minutes remaining.
It only got uglier for Cornell in garbage time. After driving down to the Princeton 25, the Tigers made a house call, picking off Wang for the fourth time and returning it all the way back for six. The Princeton lead widened to 35-9, the eventual final score.
The Red returns home next weekend to take on Penn (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be available on ESPN+.