Sure-Handed Graham Leads Football Team In Win Over Cornell



“You’re a freak!” a frustrated Cornell fan yelled at senior Luke Graham after the Colgate wide receiver made yet another spectacular catch on Saturday. “Go back to the circus.” It was not much of a taunt (more of a compliment really), but Cornell fans did not have much material to work with, as the football team beat the Big Red for the ninth consecutive time, 10-6, on Cornell’s homecoming weekend. Graham indeed had a freakish performance, catching nine passes for 159 yards to lead the Raiders to their third straight win. The Hamilton native accounted for all but 11 of the Raiders’ yards through the air. But even more striking than his gaudy numbers was the way in which he accumulated them.Graham made catches with defenders draped over his back. He made catches with one hand. He caught passes in double coverage, as he did when he out-jumped two Cornell defenders to pull down a 42-yard bomb from senior quarterback Chris Brown in the fourth quarter. The spectacular grab, which had the Colgate faithful chanting “Luuuuuke,” set up senior tailback Jamaal Branch’s game-winning touchdown from three yards out. Graham is now the second-most prolific receiver in Colgate history, with 186 career catches.”I attribute my performance to my teammates and coaches,” Graham said after the game. “The coaches made the play calls that allowed the offense to work together and make big plays.” But even with Sticky Hands Graham at its disposal, the Colgate offense sputtered for much of the afternoon, turning the ball over three times, including a Brown fumble that set up Cornell’s only points of the day.Two plays after Cornell recovered the quarterback’s second fumble of the day on the 25-yard line, Big Red running back Andre Hardaway ran in a 20-yard touchdown to give the home team the game’s first lead. Colgate junior Chris Williams blocked the extra point attempt to keep the deficit at 6-0 with 6:09 left in the first half.The Raiders would not score until late in the third quarter, when senior Lane Schwarzberg got Colgate on the board with a 25-yard field goal, his fourth of the season.In the fourth quarter, Brown unloaded a 40-yard bomb to Graham, who caught the ball with one hand as a Cornell defender pinned Graham’s left hand to his body. Graham stood up and simultaneously signaled a first down and pointed to the Colgate cheering section.”If I make a big play during the game, I always give a shout out to my number one fans – and that is my family,” Graham said of his habit of pointing to the crowd. “They have been the biggest supporters in my football career.”But Graham would fumble three plays later as he fought for first-down yardage, giving Cornell the ball back with the Raiders trailing by three.As it had all day, Colgate’s defense again came up big, forcing Cornell to punt with 9:43 left in the fourth quarter and giving the Raider offense excellent field position at the 50-yard line. From there, Brown, Graham and Branch took over. The Raiders’ three offensive stars put the ball in the end zone on four plays to give Colgate a 10-6 advantage.That was all the Raiders would need, as the Colgate defense allowed only one first down the rest of the way to seal the win. The second half was statistically the best defensive half of the season for the Raiders. The team gave up only 58 yards of offense to the Cornell offense and kept the Big Red out of Raider territory for much of the half.”We made sure we took care of our duties,” sophomore safety Geoff Bean said of the defense’s second half domination. “We read our keys, tackled and, as you can see, good things happened.”Bean’s two first-half interceptions and six tackles earned him Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors.”It’s a very good feeling [to win the award] but it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates,” Bean said. “We lose as a team and win as a team.”The defensive line, led by senior Matt Spack and junior Jeff Galletly, did its part, sacking Cornell quarterback D.J. Busch three times.Galletly, a 5’10” defensive tackle, has been pleased with the progress of the defensive line. “We are getting better with our pass rush moves and are getting a better feel for the pass stunts that we run,” he said. “Matt Spack has done a great job rushing the quarterback and we are all trying to catch up to him.”By beating Cornell, the Raiders picked up their first road win of the season. They will look for their fourth straight win as they open a five-game stretch of Patriot League contests against Holy Cross tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Andy Kerr Stadium. The Raiders continue to gain confidence as they enter the heart of league play.”We feel as a team that every game we have played thus far has been one we could win,” Graham said. “For the most part, the only team that has beat Colgate is Colgate.”