Published on Oct. 8, 2011
It has been six years since the Cornell Big Red last beat Harvard, and the streak is set to continue after a 41-31 loss to the Crimson Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field.
The Big Red (2-2, 0-2 Ivy League) led 24-20 late into the third quarter, but the Crimson (3-1, 2-0) tacked on 21 unanswered points in the second half to keep the Big Red winless in Ivy League play.
And the key momentum changer occurred with the Big Red holding a 24-20 lead.
Punting from the Crimson 49, senior kicker Brad Greenway, normally not relegated to punting duties, made a costly mistake.
Greenway took a low snap and bobbled it before punting it away, but his knee had touched the ground, ruling him down at the Cornell 38. Instead of likely pinning the Crimson inside their own 20-yard line, the Crimson was given a short field.
And according to Big Red head coach Kent Austin, a mistake the team can’t afford to make.
“We shouldn’t be making those [kinds of plays],” Austin said. ”That’s on me. We can’t make those mistakes. Our seniors need to know better than that.”
With the ball at the Big Red 38, the Crimson marched down the field, scoring on a 27-yard pass from quarterback Colton Chapple to sophomore tight end Cameron Brate to take a 34-24 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Crimson’s biggest lead of the game at the time.
Another touchdown pass from Chapple broke the game wide open at 41-24 with 10:56 remaining, sealing the Crimson victory.
According to Harvard head coach Tim Murphy, Greenway’s mistake on special teams was the game-changing play needed to ignite the Crimson offense.
“In essence, that’s a turnover in all honesty,” said Murphy. “We created some momentum for us, and took away momentum for [Cornell]…Obviously you’d rather have the ball at the 50 rather than the 10-yard line coming out [on offense].”
And it was plays like Greenway’s that Austin believes puts his team at a severe disadvantage, and provides some unnecessary growing pains for a now more experienced team.
“The disaster play you have to get off this football team,” he said.
“You know, we got to get that out of our psychology and I told the team we need to grow up. It’s time for us to push through some of that stuff. It’s what they’ve been used to, and it’s time to grow up now as a football team.”
Chapple, who had started the last two games for the Crimson after an injury to Collier Winters in the opener, threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns, the first Crimson player to throw for over 400 yards since 2002.
But coach Murphy was not hesitant to mention the strong play of Jeff Mathews, who threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns.
“That was an eye opener that this was going to be a tough game [against Cornell],” said Murphy. “That this is a very legitimate offense. Jeff Mathews is a terrific young quarterback. He gave us all we could handle…”
In fact, the Big Red scored on their first drive of the game to quickly take a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the first quarter. However, the Crimson always seemed to have an answer, never trailing by more than seven points.
The Big Red travel to Hamilton, N.Y. next Saturday to take on the Colgate Raiders to close out their non-conference schedule, a team that beat the Big Red 44-3 at Schoellkopf Field in 2010.
However, it is the play of the offense that remains a high note for an improved and more experienced team, an offense that was first in the Ivy League in total offense (367.7 yards per game) entering today’s game.
“When your offense can move the ball and take advantage of those key turnovers, it brings enthusiasm and energy,” said senior defensive back Rashad Campbell. “And knowing that our offense is a lot better this year and making those plays is going to take us a long way this season.”