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Cornell tops Colgate for first win of season

It’s not often you can do something for the first time in nearly 130 years in college football. For the Big Red to win on a Friday night, grizzled veterans and fresh-faced newcomers alike did their jobs and walked off Schoellkopf Field with a 34-20 victory over Colgate in hand. The win, Cornell’s first of the season (1-4), will hope to serve as a launching pad for the final five contests of the season – all Ivy League contests. The Raiders, undefeated in Patriot League play, is now 2-5.

Box score

The last time Cornell won a game on Friday night was nearly 129 years ago – on Nov. 18, 1892 when it won at the Manhattan Athletic Club. It’s the first win on a day other than a Saturday at home since 1916 when the Big Red topped Gettysburg on Monday, Oct.9 by a score of 26-0. That was the seventh game ever played on Schoellkopf Field.

The 513th game in front of the Crescent saw Cornell pile up 479 yards of offense in just about the most balanced way imaginable (241 rushing, 238 passing). It dominated Colgate from beginning to end while using a three-headed quarterback to attack the Raiders offensively. Senior Richie Kenney completed 12-of-15 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, while freshman Jameson Wang threw and ran for a score, both career firsts, while running for 84 yards on 12 carries. Sophomore Luke Duby was 2-for-3 passing for 56 yards and made his first career rush count – going 34 yards for a touchdown. In all, three three completed 18-of-22 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 119 yards and two scores.

The quarterback’s favorite target of the day was senior Alex Kuy, who made six grabs for 103 yards. Seven different players hauled in at least one catch, including Matt Robbert catching a 4-yard touchdown pass for his first career reception. Curtis Raymond III had three catches for 50 yards, including his second score in as many home games this fall.

It was an offensive line game … the Big Red senior-laden group didn’t allow a sack, averaged better than five yards per rush and possessed the football for 35:28, including 12:02 in the fourth quarter. Seniors Hunter Nourzad, Jack Burns, Robert Fatovic, Will Swope and sophomore Micah Sahakian and freshman Jackson Bradley did yeoman’s work while blocking for nine different rushers.

Lost in the shine of the offensive explosion was a defense that allowed just 276 yards and was at less that 200 until the Raiders marched on a late scoring drive against the backups. Logan Thut had the most explosive play of the day with an 82-yard interception return on a play that was batted by Jordan Patrick and hurried by Connor Henderson. Thut ended with the ball in his hands and shot through the offense, outracing the entire squad for the fourth-longest pick-six in school history. Senior Lance Blass had eight tackles, includng one for a loss, Jake Stebbins had four stops and both Demetrius Harris and Paul Lewis made four tackles.

The special teams contributed as well, with Koby Kiefer averaging 43.5 yards on a pair of punts and Garrett Patla put three of his six touchbacks through the end zone for touchbacks.

Colgate’s Harry Kirk, playing for an injured Grant Breneman, completed 11-of-27 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, while Michael Brescia scored a touchdown and had 35 rushing yards.

There’s plenty the Big Red can learn from as it heads into its final Ivy stretch. Cornell surrendered a 100-yard kickoff return, committed 11 penalties for 119 yards, had a field goal blocked and allowed the Raiders to drive 80 yards for a score twice. But that mattered little, as Cornell was able to sing Cornell Victorious with the Big Red Marching Band at the conclusion of the game for the first time in 692 days.

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