Coming off a successful 23-20 victory at Lehigh this past Saturday, Sept. 16, football will hit the road once again this weekend in what may be the toughest challenge of the season. Cornell will travel to New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday, Sept. 23, to take on Yale –– its first taste of Ivy play this year.
The Red (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) looked solid on both sides of the ball in its opening game against the Mountain Hawks. Junior quarterback Jameson Wang racked up 382 scrimmage yards, while the defense forced two turnovers.
“I thought they [the offense] did a nice job of taking advantage of what Lehigh’s defense was forcing,” said head coach David Archer ’05. “They were leaving some of their secondary players in one-on-one matchups, and I thought that coach [Villapiano] and the offense did a great job taking advantage of that.”
Cornell was also bolstered by the effort of senior punter/kicker Jackson Kennedy, who was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week. Kennedy blasted an 81-yard punt in the third quarter –– the second longest in school history — and made three out of four field goals and both PATs.
“His growth has been incredible,” Archer said. “This year we’ve challenged him to do all three [kickoffs, field goals and punting,] and he responded with a great day.”
The Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 Ivy) opened its season with a 49-24 loss to No. 6 Holy Cross. Yale was picked to finish in first place in the conference in the Ivy preseason poll.
“They’ve had a formula that’s been very successful for them,” Archer said. “We got to really work on being able to contain the current Ivy League Player of the Year, the current Ivy League Rookie of the Year, the defending champs at their home, hungry for their first win –– it’s gonna be a heck of a challenge.”
The Bulldogs’ offense, led by senior quarterback and reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Nolan Grooms, was first in the conference in both points per game and yards per game. The team also returns the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, sophomore running back Joshua Pitsenberger.
“They’re gonna try to get their quarterback going and their run game going by doing a hurry up offense,” Archer said. “So it’s gonna be really challenging for us because that’s probably the weakness of our defense right now.”
These two teams squared off on Homecoming last year in Ithaca, but the result did not please the Cornell faithful. After being tied 7-7 in the first quarter, Yale rattled off 31 consecutive points, ultimately winning the game convincingly, 38-14.
Prediction: Yale 31 Cornell 17
Though the Red had a strong first game, the talent on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs will be too much. Yale’s offense has a number of weapons in the pass and run game, and its defense will be able to do enough to take this one at home.