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Cornell rallies past Yale, 23-21, on walk-off field goal to improve to 2-0

  • / Updated:
  • Kyle Evans 

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter to defending Ivy League champ and preseason favorite Yale at the historic Yale Bowl, it looked bleak for a Cornell team that had only won in Connecticut against the Bulldogs once this century. But it’s always darkest before the dawn, and the Big Red had plenty of time to show its grit.

Jackson Kennedy split the uprights with his 37-yard field goal attempt as the clock struck zero and the Cornell football team mobbed him on the field to punctuate a 23-21 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. The Big Red improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2016 and for just the fourth time since 2000 with the win, while the Bulldogs fell to 0-2 in the Ivy opener for both teams.

Kennedy’s third field goal of the game and sixth of the season came after Yale pulled a near miraculous comeback at home, scoring a go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-and-20 from the Big Red 30 with 3:14 remaining. That turn of events came after the Bulldogs saw a 14-0 first quarter lead evaporate when the visitors dominated the latter half of the game and scored 20 consecutive points to go out in front.

Junior quarterback Jameson Wang was sensational, completing 26-of-36 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown and running for 34 more and a score. He directed the offense to 371 yards and 38:41 in time of possession, executing the game plan effectively and efficiently. Sophomore running back Gannon Carothers piled up 95 rushing yards on nine carries as the Big Red ran for 174 yards on the ground as a team. In all, 11 different players caught at least one pass, with Nicholas Laboy hauling in five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Kennedy, the reigning Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week, was again a difference maker. He was 3-for-3 on field goals, nailed both PAT kicks, averaged 59.8 yards on kickoffs with two touchbacks and had two punts that yielded zero return yards while placing one inside the 20.

The defense, which gave up just 301 total yards, was led by Connor Henderson’s seven tackles and an interception, the lone takeaway on the day for the Big Red. Rasean Thomas added six tackles and Holt Fletcher was credited with five, with both recording tackles for loss and Thomas adding a pass breakup to his sack. 

Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Nolan Grooms passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 76 more to lead the Bulldogs’ offense, with Tre Patterson also running for a score. Both Mason Tipton and Chase Nenad caught touchdown passes. Joseph Vaughn posted 12 tackles with two for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble, while Osize Daniyan had 11 stops and also forced a fumble. Clay Patterson notched seven tackles with 2.5 for a loss and a sack.