Editor’s Note: This recap was originally published on cornellbigred.com. It is republished with permission.
HAMILTON, N.Y. — Sophomore quarterback Dalton Banks found senior wide receiver Collin Shaw in the back corner of the end zone with 28 seconds left to rally Cornell to a 39-38 win at No. 25 Colgate on Saturday afternoon at Andy Kerr Stadium. The Big Red’s stunning comeback kept them unbeaten at 3-0, while the Raiders fell to 1-3.
The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak against ranked teams, with the last win over a Top 25 team coming in a 14-7 victory over No. 15 Princeton on Oct. 28, 2006. The last win for the Big Red over a ranked team on the road? That came in 1950, when George “Lefty” James guided his Big Red team to a 13-6 win over No. 13 Penn at Franklin Field.
A year ago, Cornell fell behind big (28-7) and rallied to within a touchdown and had four plays within the Raiders’ 10 in the final minute to tie the game, but fell short. This time, the Big Red fell down big (28-5), got within 38-33 in the third quarter and promptly turned the ball over three straight times. But, unlike the 2015 season when a fourth-down pass fell to the ground, this time the fourth time was a charm.
Banks capped off a 454-yard passing day with his fourth touchdown through the air and fifth total of the day by finding Shaw in the back right corner of the end zone with a defender draped over him. He dragged his foot right before the white end line, which stood after an officials review. Colgate took the ball back after the score needing to get into field goal range and immediately hit on a 30-yard pass from Jake Melville to John Maddaluna, the last of their 11 connections for 264 yards, to reach the Cornell 48, but three straight incomplete passes, including breakups by Geno DeMarco and Nick Gesualdi on the final two plays of the night, allowed the Big Red to ruin Homecoming for the home team.
Banks completed 25-of-45 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns. He was also intercepted three times, the first turnovers of his career. Chris Walker added 110 rushing yards on 13 carries and James Hubbardcaught five passes for 105 yards and a highlight-reel 63-yard touchdown off a deflected pass on Cornell’s final play of the third. Cornell had 10 different receivers catch passes, with Shaw catching two passes, both touchdowns, for 89 yards. One was a 70-yarder in the second quarter that began the rally.
The Big Red defense, which surrendered scores on five of Colgate’s first six drives, stiffened after halftime. Cornell turned the Raiders over on downs twice and forced three punts after the break. Excepting Colgate’s touchdown early in the third quarter when it embarked on a 13-play, 78-yard drive, the Raiders posted just 124 yards after the break on 31 plays after piling up 397 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes.
Justin Solomon had a career-high 15 tackles for the Big Red, while Kurt Frimel notched 10 with two for a loss. DJ Woullard also had 10 stops. Sophomore Ryan Kelley, who made his first career start in the win, had a pair of pass breakups.
It didn’t seem as though a comeback would be possible judging by the first quarter, but that’s why they play 60 minute games.
Colgate exploded out of the gates for a 21-0 lead after the first quarter, with Colgate’s Melville connecting with Maddaluna on touchdown passes of 93 and 51 yards and Keyon Washington scoring on a 9-yard run. By the end of the first quarter, the Raiders had outgained the visitors 247-118.
When Cornell punted to open the second, Fraser pinned Colgate at their own 4. Two incompletions later, and Kurt Frimel started the rally by bringing Melville down in the end zone for a safety. The offense then took the ball to the Colgate 12 before settling for a 29-yard Zach Mays field goal to get within 21-5 with 10:02 left in the half.
What could have been a demoralizing play on Colgate’s next drive after Melville hit Maddaluna for a 43-yard score, turned into an opportunity instead. On the very next play from scrimmage, Banks went up top to Collin Shaw, and the senior did the rest, outracing the defense for a 70-yard touchdown to get within 28-12. A last-second chip-shot field goal by Colgate’s Jonah Bowman sent the home team into the locker room with a 31-12 edge.
The second half was all Cornell, starting with the defense. A three-and-out led to Cornell getting back within 31-19. A 41-yard pass play from Banks to Ben Rogers and another 20-yard connection by the two set up a 5-yard Banks run through the defense for a touchdown.
The Raiders got that score back 13 plays later, going on an extended drive that concluded with a 2-yard touchdown run by Washington.
Staring a 38-19 deficit squarely in the eyes, Cornell got a 47-yard run by Walker on first down and a 19-yard screen pass from Banks to Jack Gellatly a play later to set up a well-thrown, impressively-caught 21-yard touchdown to senior Nick Bland. For Bland, it was his first career score and breathed new life into the Big Red.
Another defensive stop and Colgate punt set up the Big Red offense, and facing a third-and-10, Banks dropped back looking for Hubbard. His pass was tipped 10 yards off the line of scrimmage but went up in the air, behind the defense. Hubbard was all alone and outraced the surprised defenders 63 yards to the end zone. The lucky bounce brought Cornell back within 38-33 with more than 15 minutes remaining.
The fourth quarter allowed a resilient Cornell bunch plenty of opportunities to showcase itself. Three turnovers, all coming in Colgate territory, forced the defense to hunker down. It did, with Kelley forcing a punt with a third-down pass breakup, followed by two fourth-down stops, the last coming with 130 left when Frimel stopped Washington in the backfield with a 1-yard loss to give Cornell a final chance.
Consecutive pass completions from Banks to Marshall Deutz and a 7-yard run by Banks set up Cornell at the 28. A 9-yard pass to James Hubbard made it first-and-10 from the 19 and set up the fade route that proved to be the game-winner.
• Cornell is 3-0 for the first time since 2008.
• It is only the ninth 3-0 start for the Big Red since the formation of the Ivy League in 1956 (1959, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1994, 1999, 2016).
• The Big Red’s best start since 1956 was a 7-0 in 1971.
• Cornell has won consecutive road games for the first time since defeating Bucknell (21-20) and Lehigh (25-24) at the beginning of the 2008 season.
• The Big Red has trailed by at least 10 points (Bucknell, 10-0; Colgate 28-5) before rallying for both road victories in 2016.
• Prior to the two road victories this season, the Big Red had lost five consecutive road games overall and four straight non-league road contests.
• Sophomore Dalton Banks passed for 454 yards, the eighth-highest single-game total in Cornell history.
• Banks has now thrown for more than 300 yards in consecutive games and has accounted for 10 touchdowns in his first three varsity starts.
• Sophomore Chris Walker had his second 100-yard game of the season with 13 carries for 110 yards. He had 17 carries for 141 yards in the win over Bucknell.
• Junior James Hubbard had his first 100-yard receiving game with five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
• The Big Red won despite being -4 in the tunover battle.
• Senior Chris Fraser pinned all three of his punts inside the Colgate 6 and now has 54 punts downed inside the 20 in his career, good for second on the Big Red’s all-time list.
• The two teams combined for 1,164 yards of offense, including 853 yards in the air.
• Colgate dominated the time of possession, 36:03 to 23:57.
Rank and File
• Cornell won its first contest over a ranked team since 2006 when the Big Red topped No. 15 Princeton 14-7 at Schoellkopf Field.
• The last win over a top 25 team on the road came in 1950, a 13-6 win over No. 13 Penn.
• The win snapped a seven-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
• Cornell played in its third consecutive game on a Homecoming, with Bucknell (24-16) celebrating its event on Sept. 17 before the Big Red had its own on Sept. 24.
• The Big Red has now played two road games, but hasn’t had to make an overnight stay to do so. Games against Bucknell and Colgate were one-day trips for Cornell, as was its preseason scrimmage against Columbia in Schenectady, N.Y.
• Cornell and Harvard will meet for the 81st time when the Big Red heads to Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, Mass. on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 1 p.m.
• The game will be broadcast on One World Sports and simulcast on the Ivy League Digital Network.
• The Crimson have won 14 of the last 15 contests, including each of the last 10 games.
• Harvard won last season’s meeting 40-3 in Ithaca, N.Y.