Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of the Big Red Sports Network, which provides excellent Cornell sports coverage throughout the year for alumni, parents, students and fans everywhere.
Led by QB Jake Melville, Colgate ran wild on Cornell, as the Raiders (1-2) beat the Big Red (0-1) 27-12 at Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton, NY. In front of a large Homecoming crowd, Colgate head coach Dan Hunt, in his first year in place of longtime coach Dick Bittle, notched his first career victory.
From the start, Colgate established a strong rushing attack. With Cornell failing to break through the Raiders’ offensive line, the Raiders had ample room to run, rushing for 270 yards on 5.9 yards per carry. It was the legs of Melville that really set the tone for Colgate. The junior QB had 113 yards on just 10 carries, as he ran the zone read to perfection, constantly keeping the Cornell defense off-guard. This was most evident in the third quarter, when he faked a handoff and ran around the line for an untouched 53-yard touchdown to put Colgate ahead 20-9.
Cornell, in their first game in the post-Jeff Mathews era, struggled a little with their new offensive scheme. Coach Archer has repeatedly said that this team would emphasize the run this year, and that was evident in this game, as the Big Red ran for a respectable 122 yards on 4.1 yards per carry, led by junior Luke Hagy’s 62 yards on 13 carries. However, they were unable to use the run to set up the passing game, as Junior QB James Few was only 10 of 19 for 109 yards.
He did, however, throw a 17-yard touchdown to senior offensive captain Lucas Shapiro in the third quarter, after a slew of Cornell penalties pushed a first and goal from the four-yard line back to the 24-yard line. After the ensuing extra point was botched, the Colgate lead stood at 13-9; but this was short-lived, as just two minutes later, Melville took off for his long touchdown run to give the home team an 11-point lead. After a field goal from Cornell’s John Wells cut the Colgate lead to eight, the Raiders drove 61 yards in just five plays, ending with a three-yard touchdown run by James Travellin that put the game away.
Cornell’s offense stalled for most of the first half, but put together a decent drive towards the end of the second quarter, culminating with a 27-yard field goal by Wells to cut Colgate’s lead to 10-3. Colgate was the exact opposite, as after they punted on their first possession, they scored on their next three drives to take a 13-3 lead. It could have been more, as after Cornell got on the board with less than two minutes to go in the half, Melville broke off a 63-yard run that got the Raiders to Cornell’s five-yard line.
However, a fifteen-yard sideline interference penalty was called on the play, pushing Colgate back, which led to them settling for a field goal that put them ahead 13-3 at the half. Running back John Wilkins got the first points of the game eight minutes into the first quarter, when he capped Colgate’s seven-minute drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge.
Even with the defeat, Cornell showed many signs of progress, especially from the underclassmen. Linebacker Miles Norris stood out on defense, as the sophomore had 13 tackles and two sacks. Fellow sophomore Michael Staples was also solid, as the defensive lineman had eight stops, and held his own against a team known for having an explosive rushing attack. Also, two freshmen quarterbacks, Jake Jatis and Kyle Gallagher, each got a few plays, combining to complete 5 of 6 passes, with Gallagher’s 39-yard pass setting up Wells’s second field goal. And even though Cornell’s offense struggled in the first half, it was much improved in the second half, as they had multiple sustained drives, including a few longer passes set up by the play action.
Cornell will continue their search for their first victory of the season next week, as they travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to face Bucknell University (3-0).