ITHACA, N.Y. – Ending a three-game skid, Colgate football defeated Cornell last weekend to snag its second win of the season, bolstered by a dominant showing on the defensive side of the football. The Raiders’ defense rose to the occasion in the team’s 99th meeting with Cornell, picking off Big Red quarterback Dalton Banks four times and adding an unprecedented nine sacks en route to a 21-7 victory.
The Raiders pass rush swarmed the Cornell offensive line featuring a stand-out performance by sophomore Nick Wheeler. After a career-high 11 tackles at Furman, the defensive lineman added three sacks and was a key element on the line along with All-American Senior Pat Afriyie. Afriyie returned to the field after sitting out the last few games with an injury, producing a sack and continually putting pressure on the Cornell
“I thought our defense obviously played very well … Having [Afriyie] back this week really made a difference. He didn’t play the whole game, we used him as a pass rusher, and his presence was felt on the offensive scheme,” head coach Dan Hunt said.
Cornell’s Junior Quarterback, Dalton Banks was under pressure from the Raiders line all afternoon, as he was forced to hurry his throws with the pocket often collapsing snap after snap.
“We just came in with the mentality that we needed to get after the quarterback. That’s been a big theme for the D-line each and every week. Today, that’s what we did,” Wheeler said.
Colgate got on the board early in the second quarter on a seven-yard pass from first-year quarterback Grant Breneman, who evaded the blitz to find junior wide receiver Thomas Ives in the flat. Involved in all three touchdown drives, Breneman put his dual-threat abilities on display, throwing for two scores and adding a rushing touchdown in his third start of the year. He impressed in his ability to extend plays as the pocket broke down, eluding the grasp of
defenders for positive yardage through the air and on the ground.
“He’s continuing to see things better every week, which is what you want. He made some big plays on his feet … he’s a better runner than he thinks,” Hunt said of the rookie quarterback.
Later in the quarter Colgate took advantage of the first of four interceptions on a tipped pass picked off by junior defensive back Alec Wisniewski, and cashed in for its second score on a eight yard scramble from Breneman as the pocket broke down, resulting in a 14-0 lead at the half. The up-tempo offense Colgate introduced in the second quarter caught the defense off guard, leading to scores on back-to-back drives to break open a tie game.
Cornell made things interesting in the third quarter by marching down the field for a score. However, on the subsequent drive Colgate moved the chains into the endzone for a 21-7 lead, killing the clock with an almost 7-minute drive which concluded on a third-and-goal touchdown pass to first-year running back Malik Twyman.
The 21-7 lead wouldn’t be relinquished for the rest of the game, as the Raiders defense added three more interceptions which served as the difference-maker in this game – ridding Cornell of an opportunity for a comeback akin to the 23-point deficit Cornell overcame to stun Colgate at home a year ago.
Now carrying a 2-3 record, the Raiders look to carry their momentum from this win into Patriot League conference play, which begins October 7 at home against Lehigh.
Contact Neil Ahlawat at [email protected]