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Cornell blown out by Princeton, 35-9

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  • Kyle Evans 

The Cornell defense limited an explosive Princeton team to 288 total yards, but five Big Red turnovers allowed the Tigers to remain unbeaten and claim sole possession of first place in the Ivy standings after a 35-9 triumph on Saturday afternoon at Princeton Stadium. The loss snapped a three-game road win streak for the Big Red (4-3, 1-3 Ivy) and was the ninth consecutive win for the Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Ivy) dating back to last year.

The defense allowed just 59 rushing yards on 25 carries and limited the Tigers to a season-low 229 passing yards, with sophomore Muhammad-Ali Kobo registering a pair of sacks and Anthony Chideme-Alfaro breaking up a pair of passes. Reserve tight end Manny Adebi blocked two kicks. The offense also moved the ball efficiently against a Princeton defense that entered the contest allowing just 271.2 yards per game by posting 433 yards, including 148 rushing against the second-ranked defense on the ground (57.0 ypg.). Cornell piled up 27 first downs and held the ball for 36:50, was 5-for-11 on third down and controlled the tempo of the game.

But the turnovers.

Four interceptions and a lost fumble gave the home team short fields or led directly to scores – only one Princeton scoring drive covered more than 53 yards and the Tigers scored on an interception return as well as on an intercepted two-point conversion that was returned for two points. Princeton found points after drives of 49, 9 and 29 yards and the home team outscored the visitors 29-0 off miscues.

Robert Tucker III ran 12 times for 67 yards and Jameson Wang added 48 more on eight carries. Wang ended the afternoon 22-of-34 passing for 200 yards and a touchdown to Nicholas Laboy, who hauled in 82 yards on seven catches. Matt Robbert had 116 yards on seven catches and Thomas Glover caught six balls for 43 yards. Jackson Kennedy’s 42-yard field goal on the final play of the first half got Cornell on the scoreboard. Kobo’s five tackles tied with Brody Kidwell for the team lead on defense.

Blake Stenstrom threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns, both to Andrei Iosivas, who caught 10 passes for 155 yards and both scores. Stenstrom and Ryan Butler also found the end zone on the ground for the Tigers. Liam Johnson led the defense with eight tackles and an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown.

First Quarter

• A scoreless first quarter saw the Big Red hold the ball for more than 10 minutes and outgain the Tigers 121-65.
• The Big Red went three-and-out to open the contest, and Princeton marched eight plays with three first downs to get into field goal position.
• Cornell held, and the Tigers’ long 47-yard attempt by Jeffrey Sexton was blocked by Adebi, the first of two blocks in the first half for the junior.

• With some momentum, the offense went back to work.
• A 19-yard run by Tucker to begin the series set the tone, and the Big Red got to the Tigers’ 4 with goal-to-go.
• A pass by Wang floated into the hands of Michael Ruttlen Jr. in the end zone, ending the 10-play drive without any points.
• Cornell forced a punt, with a sack by Kobo on first down putting the Tigers behind the chains.
• The final possession of the quarter for the Big Red again ended with a pick after a pair of 20-yard gains to Laboy and Glover allowed Cornell to cross midfield.

Second Quarter

• Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Princeton found itself on the board.
• Stenstrom, who accounted for three touchdowns on the day, hit Iosivas for a 15-yard score on third-and-10 a player after Anthony Chideme-Alfarobroke up a pass in the end zone.
• Adebi blocked the PAT kick, his second of the day and third of the season.
• A Big Red three-and-out gave the Tigers excellent field position, and four plays later it was 12-0.
• Cornell stopped Princeton’s two-point conversion attempt when Connor Henderson sniffed out a shovel pass and buried the runner at the line of scrimmage.
• This time, Stenstrom found Iosivas from 36 yards out, their second connection in less than four minutes of game time.
• An 11-play drive by Cornell got the visitors in place for a 40-yard field goal attempt, but Kennedy couldn’t connect to keep the Big Red scoreless.
• Cornell’s defense again forced a punt, taking over with 58 seconds left.
• Jameson Wang went 27 yards on the ground on the first play, the main gainer in a walk-off 42-yard field goal that Kennedy boomed through the uprights to make it 12-3 at the break.

Third Quarter

• Princeton took the opening possession, but Cornell’s defense bogged down the Tigers at midfield.
• Kobo posted his second sack of the afternoon to force the punt, but it was muffed inside the Big Red’s own 10 and recovered by the Tigers.
• Cornell kept Princeton out of the end zone on the first two plays, but the Tigers scored when Stenstrom kept it himself to go up 19-3 with 10:51 left in the third.
• Cornell answered back with a methodical, 15-play, 81-yard drive without a play going for more than 9 yards.
• The touchdown that capped the drive was an acrobatic catch by Nicholas Laboy in the end zone on a seed from Wang on second-and-goal from the 8 to make it 19-9.

• Cornell went for two to try and get it back to a single possession, but Wang’s pass was tipped and intercepted by the Tigers’ Matt Jester, who returned it more than 100 yards for the two to completely swing the momentum.

Fourth Quarter

• The Big Red defense continued to persevere, forcing a Princeton punt with 13:19 left.
• A 19-yard connection from Wang to Will Kenner gave Cornell some juice, but a play later Dawson DeIullis caused the third interception of the day, returning the ball 26 yards to the Big Red 29.
• Nine plays later, Butler scored from 1 yard out to all but seal the game.
• Cornell continued to march against the Princeton defense, but the Tigers had the last word.
• The Big Red went 50 yards to the Tigers’ 25, but this time Liam Johnson stepped in front of a pass at the 11 and raced 89 yards to the end zone to put the cherry on top for the Tigers on Homecoming.

Next Up

• The Big Red returns home to face Penn in a battle for the Trustees’ Cup on Saturday, November 5, at 1 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field.
• It will be the 128th all-time meeting between the teams with the Quakers in the lead 75-47-5. 
• The series is the fifth most played in college football history.
• The game will be played for the Trustees’ Cup, with Penn leading 18-8 for the trophy.