Amanda Burkart/Sun Staff Photographer

The Red struggled to generate sustained drives throughout the game.

November 5, 2022

Two Blocked Punts Make the Difference as Football Loses the Trustees’ Cup

Print More

This story will be updated.

Subscribe to our men’s hockey newsletter.

Football returned home to Schoellkopf this Saturday to take on Penn for the Trustees’ Cup. Continuing to have difficulties on offense and special teams, Cornell lost, 28-21.

Both teams were seeking to get back in the win column. The Red (4-4, 1-4 Ivy) lost on the road to Princeton last week — in large part due to five turnovers. The Quakers (7-1, 4-1 Ivy) fell for the first time last week — an upset on the road against Brown.

The game got off to a slow start, with four consecutive punts to open up. Sophomore quarterback Jameson Wang struggled to find comfort in the pocket throughout the game, frequently looking to make plays on the edges with his legs.

The first score came with just under four remaining in the first half. Starting from its own six yard line, the Quakers embarked on a six-play, 94-yard drive. The keynote came on the touchdown pass, a 47-yard strike from quarterback Aidan Sayin to receiver Sterling Stokes. 

The Red wasted no time responding, as senior kick returner Javonni Cunningham gave the team an immediate boost with a 60-yard kickoff return. Set up at the Penn 30, it took two plays for Wang to connect with senior wide receiver Thomas Glover for a 31-yard touchdown. Just like that, the game was tied at 7.

Following a Penn punt, the Red had an opportunity to take the lead. After gaining just a yard on its first two plays, Wang, looking to make a play on his legs, took a disastrous 15-yard loss. This forced Cornell to punt from its own six yard line. 

The Quakers blocked the kick, setting itself up with an immediate redzone opportunity at the 20. Capitalizing on its special teams play, Penn rushed the ball to a goal-to-go opportunity, before running back Trey Flowers put it in the endzone from the wildcat. 

The Red struggled to maintain drives throughout the first half, and Wang made another crucial mistake late in the second quarter. Looking for Laboy over the middle, he was picked off by linebacker Garrett Morris, who returned it to the Cornell 13.

Two plays later, Flowers rushed it up the gut for his second touchdown of the day. The Quakers extended its lead to 14.

Looking for any momentum before the half, the Red began to move the ball in a two-minute drill. Faced with a fourth down on the Penn 20 with only seconds left in the half, Cornell opted to run a fake field goal play. Penn shut it down quickly, and the Red went into the locker room down 14.

Getting the ball to start the second half, it was once again special teams that hurt the Red. After being forced into a three-and-out, sophomore punter Ayden McCarter had his second punt blocked of the day. Working quickly, Penn converted its second two-play touchdown drive of the day, capped off by a 38-yard dime over the middle from Sayin. 

Playing with maximum urgency, the Red finally put together a sustained drive. The nine-play, 75-yard drive was aided by a targeting call against Penn which resulted in an ejection. Wang finished the drive himself, rushing up the gut for a four-yard score.

Wang threw his second interception of the day on the Red’s next drive. Set up in Cornell territory, the Quakers stalled at the 30 before having its field goal attempt blocked. The third quarter ended with Penn leading, 28-14.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game and still down by 14, Wang decided to take matters into his own hands. Seeing an opening in the middle of the defense, he bolted down the field on a 53-yard rush, the longest play from scrimmage for either team.

However, the Red’s struggles in the red zone continued. The team mustered just two yards on its next four plays, with Wang throwing a pass just out of the reach of Glover on fourth down. The Quakers took over on downs.

With the game seemingly slipping away, the Cornell defense stepped up. Opting to pass on a 3rd and 2, Sayin made his first major mistake of the game. Junior cornerback Anthony Chideme-Alfaro jumped the route, picking off Sayin and setting the Red up in Penn territory.

Needing points desperately, the Red could not get anything going on offense. The four-and-out drive was highlighted by a drop on fourth down by junior wide receiver Will Kenner which would have given the Red a first down.

The drop seemed to take the air out of the Cornell offense, which mustered only a garbage time touchdown with four seconds remaining in the game. After an unsuccessful onside kick, Penn secured the victory, 28-21.

The Red finishes its home schedule next weekend, when it hosts Dartmouth on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. The game will be available on ESPN+.