Entering its most challenging matchup of the season, football had an opportunity to take an early lead in the Ivy standings this Friday, Oct. 6, when it traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take on Harvard. Nevertheless, the Crimson dominated the game from start to finish, as Harvard quarterback Charles DePrima accounted for 361 total yards, and the Red was defeated decisively, 41-23.
The Red (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) started with the ball and began moving it immediately, as junior quarterback Jameson Wang found sophomore wide receiver Parker Woodring on an 11-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. Cornell was unable to sustain the drive after the opening pass, punting three plays later.
The Crimson (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) showed the strength of its offense early. Starting on its own 40 following a short punt from senior kicker/punter Jackson Kennedy, Harvard quickly worked its way into Cornell territory.
A 10-yard sack from junior linebacker Hunter Sloan gave the Red a chance to get off the field, but on 3rd and 16, DePrima found receiver Tim Dowd over the middle for a 28-yard strike.
DePrima capped off the drive with two rushes, the first setting up a goal-to-go opportunity, and the last for a two-yard rushing score. Just over five minutes into the game, the Crimson took a 7-0 lead.
Looking to respond, the Red was able to build a more sustained drive, moving the ball into Harvard territory. An incompletion and a couple of short rushes stalled the drive, but on 4th and 7 from the Harvard 40, head coach David Archer ’05 called a fake punt play. Kennedy appeared to have open space to run for the first down, but a brief hesitation was enough for the Harvard defense to catch him, and the Red turned the ball over on downs.
After Cornell’s defense forced a three-and-out, a shanked Harvard punt gave the Red prime field position at the Harvard 45. Nevertheless, Cornell once again turned the ball over on downs, as Wang got stuffed by the Harvard defensive line on a 4th and 1 from the 36.
As the second quarter started, Harvard looked to build its lead. On the opening play of the quarter, DePrima showed off his speed, bolting down the middle of the field untouched for a 42-yard touchdown — his second rushing score of the game. The Red was able to block the extra point, but the Crimson still remained in the lead, 13-0.
After stalling on its first three drives, the Red’s offense woke up in the second quarter. Mixing the rush and the pass, Cornell converted three third downs en route to a 15-play, 75-yard drive which took up 7:39 of game time. Wang capped off the drive with a one-yard sneak, leaping over his offensive line and crossing the plane with the ball before it could be knocked out.
The Crimson continued to apply pressure, as DePrima showed off his passing ability. The Harvard quarterback connected on a 20-yard pass to break into Cornell territory, and then found receiver Scott Woods II wide open on the left sideline for a 36-yard touchdown. The Crimson opted to go for two and converted it, widening its lead to 21-7.
With just over four minutes left in the quarter, the Red had a chance to cut into Harvard’s lead before halftime. The Red moved the ball into Crimson territory with ease, but with time running out, had to settle for a field goal as the game clock expired. Despite dominating time of possession in the first half — holding the ball for more than 20 minutes — Cornell trailed, 21-10.
After playing a clean first half with no penalties on either side, the Crimson committed three — two false starts and a hold — to stall its opening drive. The Red responded with a three-and-out, quickly giving the ball back.
Starting on its own 17, Harvard flexed its muscles on offense, going 83 yards in just four plays and 41 seconds of game time. DePrima started the drive with a 45-yard pass down the left sideline.
After another six-yard pass, DePrima rushed 15 yards for another first down before finding a wide open Tyler Neville for a 17-yard score. The Crimson made it look easy, and held a three possession lead over the Red.
Needing a score to stay in the game, the Red got the ball back on its own 25. Wang gave the drive an immediate kick start with a 29-yard pass to senior wide receiver Nicholas Laboy.
The Red went back to its roots, using both the rush and the pass as it worked the ball methodically through Harvard territory. The 11-play, 75-yard drive featured two key Wang rushes — one to convert a fourth down and another for a touchdown. Cornell trailed by 11 midway through the third.
The Red forced a three-and-out, but with a chance to make it a one possession game, went three-and-out to give the Crimson the ball back. On the first play of the ensuing drive, DePrima showed off his speed once again, dashing up the middle for a 58-yard touchdown. The play looked eerily similar to his 42-yard score earlier in the game, and it gave Harvard a 17 point lead.
Heading to the fourth quarter, the game began to slip away from the Red, as the team could not generate any offense. Cornell gave the ball right back to the Crimson, and four plays later, DePrima found receiver Hatch Ledger for a 19-yard score.
The Red scored a garbage time touchdown, but it was too little, too late. The Crimson ran out the clock, and took the game, 41-23.
Despite controlling time of possession, Cornell was dominated on the ground, as Harvard out-rushed the Red, 243-111. The Crimson averaged a whopping 8.2 yards per play, making efficient use of the ball behind a 361-yard, six-touchdown performance from DePrima.
The Red will look to get back on track next Saturday, Oct. 14, when it hosts Bucknell. The game will be Cornell’s last nonconference matchup. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and the contest will be broadcast on ESPN+.