It took just two bad minutes for the football team to waste two and a half quarters worth of solid play. Cornell (2-4, 1-2 Ivy) relied on a strong defensive effort to build a 14-7 lead halfway through the third quarter. In less than two minutes, the Red collapsed. Offense, defense and special teams all failed the Red as it relinquished control of the game.
Cornell had a first down in Brown territory with a chance to build on a 14-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Over the next ten plays, senior quarterback Ben Ganter threw three incomplete passes, junior Brad Greenway missed a long field goal attempt, Brown completed a 56-yard touchdown pass, Ganter threw an interception and Brown ran into the end zone for its third touchdown of the game. In a span of just 15 seconds, the Brown Bears (4-2, 2-1 Ivy) were able to reverse a seven-point deficit. Cornell never recovered and eventually fell 34-14 to its Ivy foe.
The Red defense was opportunistic early in the contest. Junior safety Ben Heller ended Brown’s first possession prematurely by intercepting a Kyle Newhall-Caballaro pass in the red zone. Cornell failed to capitalize on the turnover when, for the second consecutive game, freshman running back Nick Mlady couldn't convert on a key fourth-down run. The Red called for the handoff to Mlady on fourth-and-short from Brown’s 35, but the play was blown up in the backfield.
Brown’s second drive of the day resulted in the team’s second turnover in as many possessions. The Red’s blitz on third-and-six was executed to perfection. Junior Dempsey Quinn got to the quarterback, forced a fumble, and watched as classmate Anthony Ambrosi grabbed the ball and sprinted 26 yards for the first score of the game. 
“[Quinn] got the quarterback fast enough while he was throwing and hit the ball loose,” Ambrosi said. “We practice scoop and score all the time. It’s just a drill that carried over to the game. Luckily, [the ball] happened to bound high enough for me to just grab it and run it in.”
Brown’s third drive did not result in a turnover, but the results were again poor for the Bears. Cornell held Brown short of a first down and forced a punt.
Although Cornell’s defense was playing well, the offense failed to do much. The Red offense did not cross Brown’s 30-yard line a single time during the game. Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87 tried seniors Stephen Liuzza and Ben Ganter at quarterback, but neither had much success. Ganter did not appear to have his timing down, which might be explained in part because of an injured shoulder which kept him out of the game against Fordham on Oct. 17.
Cornell’s defense, which was stellar in the first quarter, faltered on Brown’s first possession of the second. Brown’s star receiver, senior Buddy Farnham, was left unguarded and scored easily on a 48-yard touchdown pass.
The teams traded punts until Brown had another scoring opportunity late in the first half. The Red stopped the Bear’s offense in the red zone and forced a 25-yard field goal attempt. Senior Chris Costello, who had eight tackles in the game, blocked the field goal attempt to preserve a tie heading into halftime.
The two defenses continued to dominate into the third quarter. Cornell forced a Brown punt on the first possession of the second half. The Red gained 40 yards on its first offensive play of the half when Liuzza found sophomore tight end Ryan Houska over the middle, but the drive stalled shortly thereafter. The Red punted, but got right back to work on defense.
Senior lineman Ricky Ballou got to Newhall-Caballaro for a sack on first down. On second down, junior Brandon Lainhart jumped in front of a wide receiver screen, intercepted the pass, and dashed 24 yards for Cornell’s second defensive score of the day.
Cornell squeezed another good performance out of its defense on the ensuing possession when the Red forced a turnover on downs. The Red took over on its own 45-yard line and advanced to Brown’s 30 when senior Bryan Walters made an acrobatic third-down catch. For the Red, it was downhill from there.
Ganter threw three consecutive incomplete passes, one of which was dropped by Walters, to set up fourth down. Greenway came on to attempt a 48-yard field goal, but he missed left. Four plays later, Farnham again got behind the Red defense, this time for a 56-yard touchdown reception that tied the score.
On the Red’s first snap of the possession, Ganter threw a pass that was tipped into the air, intercepted by James Develin, and returned to the Red’s three-yard line. On the following play, running back Zach Tronti won the race to the right corner of the end zone to give Brown its first lead of the game.
“It was a big momentum swing because there was a lot of frustration at that point,” said Brown head coach Phil Estes. “You saw it on our sidelines. People all of a sudden started to believe that we just had to put it together and not worry about them and worry more about ourselves.”
The frustration Estes referenced can be tied to a series of close calls that went against Brown early. An early touchdown pass to Farnham was ruled incomplete after the referees determined Farnham bobbled the ball while falling out of bounds. Later, an apparent Cornell fumble was negated when the play was blown dead. Several on the Brown sideline also were upset on Cornell’s first touchdown, as they argued for an incomplete pass as opposed to a fumble. Estes was also upset that the first five penalties of the game were all called against his team.
“To be honest with you, I feel mostly to blame for getting us out of sync because I just felt like there were some bad calls out there and I started to really focus on the officials and I never should have done that,” Estes said after the game.
The momentum shifted when Brown scored 14 points in 15 seconds. The Red failed to mount any sort of charge after that.
“Football is a game of momentum,” Knowles said. “Once it gets going for you, it’s great. Once it gets going against you, it’s like a tidal wave: it’s hard to stop. It takes a lot of experience to get through that. Brown had that today, they got through some bad times and we didn’t.”
Cornell’s first possession after the momentum shift ended with a punt. When Brown took over, they marched down the field with an 11-play, 82-yard drive that culminated in another Zach Tronti touchdown run. Tronti scored his third touchdown of the game during Brown’s next possession, which covered 12 plays and 72 yards. Tronti finished the game with 134 rushing yards.
“Zach Tronti was immense in the fourth quarter,” his coach said.
Farnham also had a huge game; the reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week had nine receptions, 204 receiving yards, and two long touchdowns where he got behind the Red secondary.
“He didn’t get behind us, we didn’t cover him,” Knowles said. “We just had a miscommunication, a missed assignment, and let him go free. He’s going to make plays on you if you cover him, but it’s tough if you let him go free.”
The Red will hit the road in an attempt to break their four-game losing streak. Cornell plays at Princeton and at Dartmouth over the next two Saturdays.
“I thought our guys kept playing hard, but we’ve got to be able to eliminate the unforced errors,” Knowles said. “We know where we are. We know where we have some weaknesses, but we haven’t maxed out what we have yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Our guys gotta have faith in the system and keep working at it. There’s still a lot of season left to be played.”