Box Score Box Score
(Photos by Tim McKinney)
(Photos by Patrick Shanahan)
(Courtesy of NBC Sports Network)
ITHACA, N.Y. – Freshman Luke Hagy
rushed for two touchdowns and junior Jeff Mathews
threw for four more scores to lead the Big Red football team to a resounding 45-6 victory over Yale on Saturday in front of a raucous Homecoming crowd of 15,333 fans at Schoellkopf Field.
In front of a national television audience on NBC Sports Network, Cornell's high-octane offense was even more unrelenting than the pesky waves of rain and wind pummeling the area. But the conditions failed to hinder the Big Red.
Two of Mathews' touchdowns were reeled in by senior Kurt Ondash
, while the other two found the hands of classmate Luke Tasker
. Mathews finished the day 29-of-39 for 340 yards before being removed in the fourth quarter with the game in hand. It was the fourth consecutive game in which he threw for at least 300 yards and the eighth time accomplishing that feat in his career, which ties a program record.
Cornell took a 14-0 lead after the first quarter in unusual fashion – a pair of one-play scoring drives. It was the first time the Big Red scored on the first play of its drive since Sept. 17, 2011 against Bucknell.
The Big Red marched down the field on its first drive with four first downs in its first seven plays to get deep into Yale territory. But a false start and a sack put the offense in a bind, and completions to Ondash and Hagy brought up a fourth-and-two from the 17. Cornell opted to go for it, only to see a pass attempt jarred loose from the receiver's hands inside the Bulldogs' red zone.
But the Big Red defense responded immediately. Yale's first play from scrimmage was an attempted bubble screen to the left that was anticipated perfectly by Andrew Nelson
. The Big Red's sophomore linebacker shed a blocker and nabbed his second career interception.
Wasting no time the second time around, Cornell's offense struck immediately on Hagy's first career touchdown – a bruising 11-yard to the right. John Wells
' extra point gave the Big Red an early 7-0 lead.
The teams then traded punts, but Sam Wood
's boot was muffed by the Yale returner and recovered by long snapper Dylan Chayes
. On the next play, Mathews feathered a perfectly executed pass into the hands of Tasker in the back left corner of the end zone with 3:38 remaining in the quarter.
A penalty helped the Bulldogs reach Cornell territiory for the first time on the next drive, but a terrific open-field tackle by Taylor Betros
on a third-down reception left Yale with a decision to make on fourth-and-short. The Bulldogs opted to eschew a long field goal attempt, but the ensuing rush was stuffed for a loss of two yards and turnover on downs as time in the opening quarter expired.
Cornell then started the second quarter with a more conventional scoring drive of 62 yards on eight plays. Effectively mixing rushes between the tackles and a potent Mathews-led passing arsenal, the Big Red broke through on a 4-yard rush by Hagy to help inflate its lead to 21-0. With that rush, Hagy became the first freshman to score two rushing touchdowns since Stephen Liuzza did it against Fordham in 2009.
Starting the next drive from its own 10, Yale appeared to gain momentum by completing a 29-yard pass up the sideline. But with the quarterback under pressure on a bootleg the following play, sophomore Michael Turner
jumped in front of the intended receiver for his first career pick and put the Big Red offense back in business.
Mathews' one-yard keeper on fourth down kept the drive alive, then he found Tasker for a 14-yard completion. Ondash then hauled in a touchdown pass from 5 yards for the Big Red's fourth score, and the score ballooned to 28-0. The score marked the 10th consecutive game in which Cornell scored at least 24 points.
Yale's best drive of the half came on its next possession, but a 40-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right to keep the Cornell shutout bid intact.
Hagy's big day then continued on the next drive when he broke open a screen pass for a 41-yard gain deep into Yale territory. To cap the drive, Mathews completed a 4-yard pass to Ondash for the last touchdown of the opening half. It was the first time the Big Red had built a first-half lead of more than four touchdowns since it led 29-0 on Oct. 15, 2005 against Georgetown.
Halftime did nothing to dissuade the trends established in the opening 30 minutes. Yale was forced to punt on the first drive of the third quarter, then Cornell methodically stomped into Bulldogs territory. But a missed field goal ended the Big Red's drive before a Yale three-and-out gave Cornell the ball back.
The host team responded with a five-play, 58-yard drive capped off with a 21-yard touchdown strike to Tasker. The rout was on, and the score was 42-0.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board with 7.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter. On a fourth-and-goal from the Cornell 7, Yale's Eric Williams found Grant Wallace on an out route to the left just over the goal line to spoil the shutout bid. The Big Red's last shutout was against Yale, on Nov. 6, 1993.
Not to be outdone even for a moment, Cornell responded for its longest drive of the day – a marathon 13-play trek covering 58 yards before Boomer Olsen
's 22-yard field goal pushed the Big Red's advantage to 45-6.
The Big Red returns to non-league action on Saturday, Sept. 29 with a visit to Bucknell.