Cornell football came alive offensive in the final quarter, but two touchdowns in the final 75 seconds weren’t enough to top defending Ivy League champion Yale. The Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0 Ivy) earned a 23-17 victory on Saturday afternoon at the Yale Bowl thanks in large part to the Rodney Thomas show. The Big Red slipped to 0-2 (0-1 Ivy).
Thomas had a pair of interceptions and returned an on-sides kick attempt for a touchdown to allow Yale to hold off Cornell. One of his interceptions was returned for a score, but it was called back on a penalty – one of 14 for 144 yards called against the home team. His on-sides return, the second consecutive year at the Yale Bowl for the Bulldogs against the Big Red in the final minutes, all but sealed the win and sandwiched the visitors’ two late touchdowns. It was also the second consecutive game between the teams that Thomas had a pair of picks.
The Big Red defense kept the pressure on Yale all afternoon, allowing just 88 yards on 30 Yale carries while posting one sack and seven total tackles for loss. The difference was in the turnover battle – Yale had three interceptions and the Big Red wasn’t able to take the ball away. Jake Stebbins and Lance Blass had identical nine tackles, including one for a loss, with Logan Thut and Eric Diggs adding seven stops. Diggs added a pass breakup. Holt Fletcher had 1.5 tackles for loss in his first career start and Onome Kessington registered his first sack.
Offensively, Curtis Raymond III had four catches for 80 yards as the Big Red had 10 different receivers catch passes from Richie Kenney and Ben Mays. Mays came off the bench to lead both late touchdown drives, including hitting Alex Kuzy for a 15-yard score. Devon Brewer piled up 83 yards of offense, including a 50-yard catch out of the backfield in the first half. Delonte Harrell also scored from the 2 in the game’s final minute. Scott Lees booted his first career field goal to lead the special teams, with Koby Kiefer averaging 39.0 yards on four punts.
cThe Bulldogs had a 409-336 edge in total yards thanks in large part to Griffin O’Connor’s 23-of-38 day for 317 yards and two touchdowns – one each to Darrion Carrington and Chase Nenad. Zane Dudek tallied 96 total yards, including 57 on the ground. Besides Thomas, who added two tackles and a pass breakup, Wande Owens had the teams first interception and Clay Patterson had both sacks for the Bulldogs.