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.

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Ithaca, N.Y. — In the first play of the second quarter, Cornell accomplished something they had yet to do this season: On a trick play that featured running back Luke Hagy taking a toss, and throwing an 18-yard touchdown to Ben Rogers, the Big Red took a 7-3 lead—their first lead at any point of 2014. However, it was not enough, as Cornell (0-7, 0-4 Ivy), fell to the defending Ivy League champion Princeton Tigers (4-3. 3-1 Ivy) 38-27 Saturday afternoon at a chilly Schoellkopf Field.

With prolific Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly out with an injury, second stringer Connor Michelson didn’t allow the offense to miss a beat, as the senior completed 22 of 33 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns. At first, it seemed like the cold weather was slowing down their offense. Their first few drives saw them only mustering up a field goal, and losing a fumble on a Justin Harris third down sack. However, right after Hagy’s touchdown pass set off the loudest cheer heard at Schoellkopf this season, the Tigers responded with a quick two minute drive that covered 82 yards, and culminated with a Michelson touchdown pass to Dre Nelson.

But unlike previous games this season, Cornell was able to respond on offense, as it appears they have found a quarterback capable of consistently moving the ball downfield. After James Few turned in another ineffective performance, finishing 3 for 9 with an interception, Robert Somborn came in, and was able to move the Big Red offense in way that hasn’t been seen since Jeff Mathews was under center. When another Michelson touchdown pass gave Princeton a 17-7 lead, Somborn was able to lead a 65 yard drive, ending in a five-yard TD pass to Lucas Shapiro, to make it a three-point game going into the half. This was Cornell’s best half since holding Harvard to a scoreless draw in the first half three weeks ago. The sophomore was 23 of 40 for 315 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

However, even though the Big Red were able to keep the game close in the first half, the Tigers dominated the third quarter, as Michelson threw for his third and fourth touchdowns, and Cornell kicker John Wells had one field goal blocked, and another one pushed wide right. In the fourth quarter, Cornell made a comeback, with Somborn throwing his second touchdown and Luke Hagy adding a six-yard touchdown on the ground. But after Hagy’s score, they were unable to take advantage of a recovered onside kick, and turned the ball over on downs on Princeton’s 24-yard line with two minutes left, icing the 38-27 loss.

Even though Cornell was once again unable to get into the win column, they showed the most improvement in this game than in any game so far this season. Much of this was due to the play of Somborn, as he has added a downfield passing attack to the Big Red offense that was previously unseen. His presence finally freed up the run game, as Hagy had his best game of the season, rushing for 91 yards and 16 carries, while adding 45 receiving yards. If Somborn continues his efficient play, it can lead to some tough matchups for Cornell’s final three opponents.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.