This article has been updated.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Faced with the potential of having its season slip away, football needed to get back in the win column to right the ship. Hosting Brown (3-3, 1-2 Ivy) this Saturday, Oct. 21, the Red (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) did just that, racking up 434 yards and forcing three turnovers en route to a 36-14 win.
“I’m really proud of the way we picked ourselves out of a slump and came out and played good football on all three sides,” said head Coach David Archer ’05. “Everybody contributed today — offense, defense and special teams — and the sideline. I thought the sideline energy was awesome, and it showed.”
The Red was dominant on both sides of the ball in the first half. After both teams traded punts to start the game, Cornell took over with favorable field position on the Brown 49.
Junior quarterback Jameson Wang was at his best, completing a 12-yard pass to senior wide receiver Nicholas Laboy on the second play of the drive before the Red rushed for a first down. On the following play, Wang rolled right on play action and found sophomore wide receiver Doryn Smith wide open on a corner route.
Smith broke a tackle and took it to the house for a 37-yard score, his first in a Cornell uniform. Senior kicker/punter Jackson Kennedy tacked on the extra point, and Cornell quickly led, 7-0.
“As soon as I got in the end zone I was thinking about my family,” Smith said. “I was just harping on myself trying to score… I just took it one day at a time, one play at a time, and then it happened.”
Brown’s offensive was nonexistent in the first half, as the team picked up just two first downs and 36 total yards of offense. The Bears punted on its first five possessions.
At the start of the second quarter, the Red was driving in Brown territory. The 12-play, 80-yard drive featured multiple double-digit yard passes to Laboy, including a 25-yard strike on 3rd and 16 to set Cornell up with a goal-to-go opportunity. Two plays later, freshman running back Ean Pope found the end zone on a seven-yard rush, his first score for the Red.
Following another Brown punt, Cornell’s offense went back on the attack. Starting on its own 25, the Red worked the ball down the field, converting a 4th down on a Wang QB sneak to keep the drive alive. Cornell eventually stalled just inside the red zone, and Kennedy drilled a 35-yard field goal to put the Red up by 17.
With just under two minutes left in the first half, Brown got the ball at its own five-yard line, looking for any offense to build momentum before halftime. Nevertheless, on the second play of the drive, quarterback Jake Wilcox’s pass was intercepted by senior safety Brody Kidwell. The pick was Kidwell’s second in two weeks, and it gave the Red an instant red zone opportunity.
“[Kidwell] just keeps getting better and better and better,” Archer said. “And that was huge, because they were going to get the ball after half. And we were able to take possession from them, not get it back and get points.”
Operating with just over a minute left, Cornell ran the clock down before attempting a 28-yard field goal. Kennedy connected, and the Red went into the locker room leading, 20-0.
In past games, the Red struggled holding on to leads in the second half. That was not the case today. Following a Brown punt on its opening drive, Cornell got the ball on its own 23, looking to do more damage.
The Red’s offense continued to shine, as the team marched 77 yards down the field on seven plays. Wang looked particularly sharp on the drive, going 5 of 6 for 72 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass over the middle to senior tight end Matt Robbert.
Not to be outshined by the offense, the Red’s defense continued to suffocate Brown. After picking up a couple of first downs on its second drive of the half, Brown looked to set up a quick screen pass.
Recognizing the play, senior cornerback Paul Lewis III jumped in front of Brown’s wide receiver, intercepting Wilcox’s throw. With just the quarterback to beat, Lewis III got past Wilcox, and took it 58 yards to the end zone for a pick six. It was the Red’s first pick six since Oct. 15, 2022, when senior linebacker Connor Henderson had one against Lehigh.
“I went inside and then I saw the QB staring right at the receiver,” Lewis III said. “And I just jumped it, and then as soon as I caught it I [knew] it was six. I’m not getting tackled, nobody’s catching me.”
Midway through the third quarter, the Bears’ offense finally found some life. On 3rd and 7 from its own 38, Wilcox hit receiver Solomon Miller over the middle behind the Cornell defense. Miller ran untouched up the seam into the end zone, putting Brown on the board.
Following the Bears’ touchdown, the Red looked to respond, working the ball into Brown territory. Wang took a deep shot to Laboy from the Brown 44, but the pass was picked off by the Bears and returned to the Brown 31.
Needing points fast, Brown quickly moved into Cornell territory with a pass interference call and a 23-yard rush. Four plays later, facing a 3rd and 22, Wilcox navigated the pocket and threw deep down the right sideline, finding Graham Walker for a 43-yard score. After being shut out in the first half, the Bears now trailed, 33-14.
The Red punted on its following possession, giving Brown an opportunity to get back into the game. The Bears drove into Cornell territory, but on 2nd and 19 from the Red’s 37, Wilcox threw deep into the end zone into triple coverage.
Sophomore safety Jeremiah Lewis undercut the pass, recording Cornell’s third interception of the day. It was the first time since 2017 that the Red had three or more picks.
Following the interception, the Red put the nail in the coffin with a 13-play, 55-yard drive that ate up 8:48 of game clock. Kennedy capped off the drive with a 42-yard field goal, his third of the day, and the Red came away with a commanding 36-14 win.
“It was a big win and as you see, we’re back in the running,” Lewis III said. “We just have to keep this train going.”
Cornell dominated time of possession, holding the ball for just under 40 minutes. Wang finished the game with an impressive statline, going 27 of 39 for 330 yards and two touchdowns.
The Red will finish up its three-game home stand next Saturday, Oct. 28, when it hosts Princeton. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.