The Colgate football team lost to their rival Cornell 39-38 on Homecoming this past Saturday. The Raiders held a 31-12 halftime lead but could not stop a furious Cornell rally in the second half that consisted of 20 unanswered points.
Despite the tough second half, Colgate put themselves in a great position to win from the outset. On their first possession of the game, senior captain quarterback Jake Melville hit senior wide receiver John Maddaluna for a 93-yard touchdown pass. On the very next possession, Melville and Maddaluna connected again for a 51-yard touchdown. The Raiders would add to their first quarter lead when junior running back Keyon Washington scored on a nine-yard run to give Colgate a 21-0 lead.
The Melville and Maddaluna tandem would find the end zone for a third time in the first half when the senior captain hit Maddaluna for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Maddaluna finished with a stat line of 11 catches for 261 yards and three touchdown passes. The 261 yards is the second most single game reception yards in program history.
At halftime, the Raiders, seemingly in control, held a 31-12 lead. After a Colgate three-and-out to start the half, Cornell sophomore quarterback Dalton Banks led a 5 play, 62-yard drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown run by the quarterback to cut the lead to 31-19. The Raiders would respond when Washington added his second touchdown run of the game, and third touchdown of the season, on a two yard run that capped a 13 play, 78 yard Colgate touchdown drive.
With 3:10 left in the third quarter, and facing a 19 point deficit, Banks and the Cornell Big Red would begin their furious comeback. Banks would complete touchdown passes of 21 and 63 yards to cut the Colgate lead to 38-33 at the end of the third quarter.
The Raiders defense recorded two turnovers in the fourth quarter. The first was an interception by senior cornerback Adam Bridgeforth, his second of the game. A fumble recovery by senior linebacker Charles Cairnie midway through the fourth quarter gave the opportunity for the Colgate offense to ice the game. Sadly, an offense that put together 597 yards of total offense was not able to capitalize on the Cornell mistakes.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Raiders faced a fourth-and-1 in Big Red territory. Instead of punting the ball back to Cornell, head coach Dan Hunt elected to go for it to try to end the game. Washington’s rush attempt was stopped short of the line to gain and the Big Red regained possession on their own 43 yard line with 1:30 remaining and no time-outs. Cornell would find the end zone on a 19-yard pass from Banks to senior wide receiver Collin Shaw with 28 seconds remaining to give themselves a 39-38 lead that they would not relinquish.
The Raiders will be back at it next weekend when they open Patriot League play at Lehigh. The game will kickoff at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised on the Patriot League Network. The Raiders are seeking redemption and will begin their quest for back-to-back league titles.