After a magical six-overtime victory in the first game of their season, the Cornell sprint football team (3-3) ran out of overtime magic as they lost against Post (4-2), 13-6, this past Friday.
The Red had a chance to put the game away in regulation, when sophomore defensive back Michael Monahan had an acrobatic interception to give the ball back to the offense in the red zone with the scored tied, 6-6, and with less than two minutes remaining.
“We should have probably scored a touchdown [on that last] possession,” said junior captain and quarterback Brendan Miller. “After he had the big interception, we had a couple of chances and just couldn’t capitalize.”
Miller completed two passes to get a first down and after a Post encroachment penalty, junior placekicker John Rodriguez had a 26-yard field goal attempt to win the game. However, the attempt was wide left, putting the game into overtime. Despite missing his last kick, Rodriguez made two earlier in the game, including one from 46 yards out —the reason the Red was in this game, according to Miller.
“John Rodriguez played great for most of the season and it’s nice to have a kicker who can make a 48 yard field goal,” Miller said. “He’s the reason we’ve been in most of the games this year and he’s definitely one of our strongest players throughout the season.”
In overtime, the Red won the coin toss and chose to play defense first. Post freshman quarterback Shawn Boose ran the ball four straight times to set them up at the one-yard line and he snuck it in to score a touchdown. Cornell’s offense did not have as much success as Post, as Miller was sacked on the first play. They eventually had a fourth-and-1 to convert, but after a false start, a pass from Miller went through the hands of junior wide receiver Joseph Martin, ending the game.
“We didn’t finish; we had a few opportunities to win the game, but we just couldn’t finish,” said senior captain and defensive end Will Edmonds. “There were just a bunch of small things that we could have done to beat Post. They … Got a touchdown [in overtime], and we couldn’t turn around and get a touchdown ourselves.”
One reason why Cornell’s offense struggled was the absence of senior wide receiver Abe Mellinger due to an injured hamstring. He leads the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns. Without Mellinger, Miller went 22-36 for just 158 yards and the receiving corps was led by senior wide receiver Spenser Gruenenfelder, who caught six balls for 62 yards. However, the biggest issue with the Red’s offense was its lack of a running game, as it carried the ball 21 times for negative-5 yards.
“We didn’t run the ball much just because of how the game played out,” Miller said. "We really couldn’t get anything going … It's just unfortunate that we had to be so one-dimensional in our offense.”
Overall, Miller was disappointed in the Red’s offensive showing.
“The last two games, it’s pretty inexcusable with all the talent that we have [to score just 9 points in two games],” he said. “You can’t really ask the defense for much more, holding them to two field goals, especially when Post is as athletic as they are.”
Post’s offense was led by Boose, who completed eight of 13 passes for 94 yards and carried the ball 23 times for 132 yards and the game-winning touchdown. The Red was impressed with his play, but did a great job containing him.
“[Boose] is a great athlete and has good pocket presence,” Edmonds said. “We were able to get to him a few times — [senior defensive end] Chris Leyen had a few good hits and [senior linebacker] Jim Barger had a nice sack on him, but when he saw a hole, he would take it and he was really good at breaking tackles … We did a really good job holding down a really solid quarterback.”
The defense recorded five sacks, led by junior linebacker Kyle Higgins, who recorded two sacks and five tackles, and had two interceptions, one by junior defensive back Riley Scott and the other by Monahan. Overall, the entire defense played well, according to Edmonds.
“It was a solid team effort,” he said. “I highlighted a few people, but everybody made great plays, especially the defensive line; they stepped up. They had sacks and a few good tackles. The defensive backs also had great coverage throughout the night.”
Looking ahead, the team has one game left on its schedule against Mansfield and plans to give it its all to finish the season off on a high note.
“We’re moving on from our loss and we realize there’s one game in our season left,” Edmonds said. “We’re playing a team we haven’t lost to before [in Mansfield] and we will put all our efforts into winning next week.”