Raiders Pick Up First Victory At Cornell, Improve

Spencer Serling

This past weekend, Colgate travelled to Ithaca to take on the Cornell Big Red. Picking up their first victory of the season, the Raiders (1-4) won by a score of 41-20 and hope to continue their momentum as they look to overcome their rocky start.

The Raiders travelled and prepared for the Big Red (1-2) knowing that they would need to keep senior All-American quarterback Jeff Matthews’s production to a minimum. Previously allowing over 500 yards of offense, they held Cornell to just 143 yards of offense in the second half.

The Raiders were able to hold the Big Red scoreless through the majority of the first quarter. With just under five minutes left, junior defensive back Mike Armiento intercepted Matthews and took it to the house for a 7-0 lead. Matthews came back on the next drive and led the Big Red down the field for a touchdown, but the Raiders defense was already in Matthews’ head.

The Raiders’ next drive lasted close to six minutes as senior Andy Burgess knocked through a 30-yard field goal to put the Raiders back in the lead at 10-7. An impressive 15-play drive was led by Matthews that resulted in a Big Red touchdown with just three minutes remaining in the first half.

Senior quarterback Gavin McCarney marched the Raiders the other direction, hitting sophomore tight end John Quazza for his first collegiate touchdown from 13 yards out to put the Raiders back in the lead at 17-14. The Big Red, however, mustered a quick response, scoring with just 22 seconds left to regain the lead. A failed two-point conversion, however, kept the Big Red lead at 20-17 going into halftime.

Early in the third quarter, McCarney, who has been shaken up all season with knee injuries, reinjured his knee and was unable to return to the game. The injury was said to be a sprain, but remains to be seen. McCarney finished the game completing 14 of 18 passes for 147 yards. With McCarney out, the Raiders turned to first-year Jake Melville. Melville eased his way into the offense, rushing in from six yards out for the touchdown on his first collegiate drive.

The Raiders defense held strong throughout the entire second half, pitching a shutout and giving Melville opportunities to lead the offense with a comfortable lead. Junior wide receiver Jimmy DeCicco helped out in the backfield, replacing injured sophomore tailback Demetrius Russell. DeCicco rushed for two second-half touchdowns and gained 146 yards on the day, carrying the ball 22 times.

“I treated Saturday’s game just like any other,” DeCicco said. “My coaches did a great job preparing me and my teammates were very encouraging all week. Our offense is a system; if one guy goes down you can plug another guy in and expect the same production.”

Including DeCicco’s two second half rushing touchdowns, Armiento picked off another Matthews pass, almost returning it for a second touchdown before getting tripped up. Melville, however, easily converted hitting senior wide receiver Nat Bellamy for a touchdown. The Raiders’ four second-half touchdowns pushed the final score to 41-20, and gave the Raiders their first victory on the season.

“Despite a 1-4 start, we still have all of our goals ahead of us,” DeCicco said. “We can still win league, we can still make playoffs and we can still have a winning record. As we continue to improve, you can expect us to defend our League title this November.”

The Raiders face one more non-league opponent before they dive into the Patriot League portion of their schedule. They will host Stony Brook this coming Saturday at Andy Kerr Stadium at 6 p.m.

                        Contact Spencer Serling at [email protected].