The day started in Ithaca, N.Y. with dark clouds that threatened rain during a nightmarish first quarter for the Bulldogs. But by the end of the second half, bright sunshine blanketed Schoellkopf Field and the Elis were putting the finishing touches on a 50-23 rout of Cornell.
The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) outshined their Big Red (0-2, 0-1 Ivy) host in every aspect, rushing for 415 yards and passing for 142 yards. Against the stifling Bulldog defense, Cornell managed only 81 yards on the ground and 62 yards in the air. With their explosive performance Saturday, the Elis lead all Division I-AA teams in scoring with 49.5 points per game and rushing yards with 375 per game.
Running backs Robert Carr ’05 and Pat Bydume ’04 led the Yale offense on the ground. Carr, who had 235 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries, broke running back Rich Diana’s ’82 individual rushing record of 222 yards, which he earned against Princeton in 1981. Bydume, in a breakout performance, added an additional 125 yards on 15 carries to Yale’s total, making it the second consecutive game in which two Yale backs rushed for over 100 yards.
“I didn’t find out about it after the game and I didn’t know what to say,” Carr said. “To have your name in the record books, that’s a very special thing. I think it was one of the best days of my life.”
The day did not start the way it ended for the Elis. On just the second play of Yale’s first drive, starting quarterback Alvin Cowan ’04 took a hard hit after letting go of a long pass intended for wide receiver P.J. Collins ’04. Cowan, obviously hurt and limping badly, stayed in for two more plays before Yale took a timeout and replaced him with backup quarterback Jeff Mroz ’05.
Cowan was later carted off the field and did not return for the rest of the game. X-rays showed he had a high fibula fracture in his right leg and will be out 4-6 weeks.
“Alvin’s injury is a big loss not only because of his playing ability, but because of the loss of his leadership also,” said Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki. “Jeff will now get all the snaps as the number one quarterback in practice. We need to make sure that he understands the entire game plan and is comfortable with everything we are doing.”
Although he was hesitant early, Mroz had no problems replacing Cowan. Mroz completed a series of shorter passes before connecting with an outstretched Collins for a breathtaking 40-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
Mroz finished the day with 142 yards passing, completing nine out of 13 attempts.
“I just had to stay calm and the more snaps I got the better I felt,” Mroz said. “It’s like jumping into a pool — when you first jump in you don’t feel so good, but after a while you get used to it.”
With Cowan on the sidelines, Cornell put even more pressure on the Bulldogs. The Big Red completed their first drive for a 6-0 lead, marching 65 yards downfield in 15 plays, only two of which did not gain yardage.
The Bulldogs’ nightmare did not end there. On the last play of the first quarter, kicker John Troost’s field goal attempt from the Cornell 25-yard line was blocked and returned by Big Red linebacker Joel Sussman for a 48-yard touchdown, putting Cornell up 13-7.
That was the last time Cornell led. In the second quarter, the Yale defense answered when defensive end Stuart Satullo ’03 sacked Cornell quarterback Mick Razzano and forced a fumble. Eli defensive back James Beck ’05 recovered the fumble and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. Four minutes later, Carr shredded the Cornell defense, diving through a gaping hole before running 45 yards for his second touchdown of the day. After the half, Carr tagged on two more touchdown runs within the span of seven minutes to put the Bulldogs up 35-16.
On the next Cornell drive, the Bulldog defense recorded back-to-back sacks, the first by Satullo and linebacker Kenneth Estrera ’04 and the second by captain Jason Lange ’03. The Big Red was forced to punt once again and that set up Collins for his 40-yard touchdown catch. When Bydume ran the ball into the end zone for the Elis’ seventh touchdown, the Big Red had no chance at a comeback.
“The coaches had us well prepared for the game,” Bydume said. “We knew we had to run the ball well coming into Saturday’s game. When Alvin went down we knew we needed to pick up the slack and really run the ball well.”
After the game, Siedlecki approved of the way his team handled their early troubles.
“We faced a lot of adversity in the game and overcame it and we need to build from there,” Siedlecki said. “[The teams] didn’t blink. They didn’t step back. I’ve got a great feeling about this team.”