The Cornell football team will bring the Trustees’ Cup back to its Ithaca campus by bus, but it rode a fantastic defensive effort all day in a 15-12 triumph over Penn on Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field. The Big Red (2-6, 1-4 Ivy) snapped a six-game skid against the Quakers (3-5, 1-4 Ivy).
Cornell limited the Quakers to 325 yards, including just 78 on the ground, had nine pass breakups and intercepted a pass and never allowed a double figure play drive or any that gained more than 55 yards. Its bend-but-not-break effort kept Penn’s offense out of the end zone and limited it to just two field goals. The Big Red did all that despite having to pbe on the field for more than 32 minutes as the home team controlled possession over the final three quarters.
Max Lundeen had a big night on the defensive line, batting down three passes with an additional quarterback hurry and a tackle for loss, while Kenan Clarke also posted a pair of pass breakups. Eric Diggs had a takeaway with an interception and Jake Stebbins posted a game-best 12 stops – his third straight contest with at least 12 tackles.
While the defense was fantastic, so was the offensive line. Cornell rushed for 125 yards and pair of touchdowns by Jameson Wang and didn’t allow a sack for the third time this season. The Big Red’s two scoring drives were 55- and 75-yard marches.
SK Howard had a game-high 65 yards on the ground in his return from injury, while Jameson Wang ran 10 times for 55 yards and two scores. He joined with Kenney to complete 12-of-27 passes for 183 yards.Akex Kuzy caught five passes for 70 yards, Thomas Glover had three catches for 59 and Curtis Raymond III hauled in three for 58 more.
Penn freshman quarterback Aidan Sayin completed 26-of-45 passes for 247 yards and led the team with 32 rushing yards. His favorite target was Owen Goldsberry, who snatched seven passes for 72 yards. Defensively, Jason McCleod had four tackles, an interception and three pass breakups in the loss. Daniel Karrash booted a pair of field goals – one from 40 and another from 24 yards.
Cornell faced plenty of adversity during the week and the game – from an illness passing through the team, to having two touchdowns wiped off the board due to penalties, a punt blocked for a touchdown to surrender the lead for the first time and the general expectation of a team looking for its first conference win to be down on itself. It never looked anything other than confident on Saturday, and the end result was its “bowl” victory.