The Bulldogs were left seeing red on the gridiron yesterday in their first Ivy League game of the season.
Cornell (1–1, 1–0 Ivy) blew out Yale (1–1, 0–1 Ivy) 45–6 in the Ancient Eight opener in Ithaca, N.Y., on Saturday. The Big Red rode quarterback Jeff Mathews’ arm and four turnovers by the Blue and White to a big win on their home turf.
“[Mathews] is probably the best quarterback I’ve played against,” defensive back Nick Okano ’14 said. “If we made just a slight mistake … he’d thread the needle.”
Yale managed to stop Cornell on the opening drive after the Big Red drove into Eli territory, but Cornell got the ball right back when Cornell safety Andrew Nelson jumped a screen and picked off the pass from Eli quarterback Eric Williams ’16.
Cornell scored on the very next play on a run by tailback Luke Hagy to jump out to a 7–0 lead. Although that would be enough to win the game, Mathews and company did not stop there. Mathews threw for three, and Hagy ran for another as the Big Red took a big 35–0 lead by halftime.
Yale also lost running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 midway through the first half to a right shoulder injury. He did not return to the game, and Khalil Keys ’15 and Tyler Varga ’16 filled in for him in the backfield. Cargill said the two younger players did a great job running the ball.
“Our team mantra is ‘Next man up.’ We work hard at practice and compete every day to make sure everyone’s ready to go,” Cargill said.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the final seconds of the third quarter when Williams found wide receiver Grant Wallace ’15 on a seven-yard slant to make it 42–6, but holder Derek Russell’s ’13 pass for the two-point conversion fell incomplete.
The Big Red added a 22-yard field goal with 8:25 to go in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring at 45–6.
Despite allowing Cornell to run away with the first half 35–0, the Elis renewed their drive to keep pace with the Big Red in the second half. Cornell outscored Yale by only four points after halftime. Head Coach Tony Reno attributed the improvement to his team’s resilience.
“[We] had a bad half but came out and played better football,” Reno said. “You need to learn from mistakes … We’re just looking to continue to improve.”
Mathews finished the game 29–39 with 340 yards and four touchdown passes, while his Eli counterpart Williams finished 27–37 for 211 yards, one score and two interceptions. Matthews won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League offensive MVP last season.
Varga led the Yale ground attack with 91 yards on 13 carries. Hagy had 88 yards for Cornell, but it took him 21 rushing attempts.
Yale will kick off its home season Saturday against Colgate. Ivy play at the Yale Bowl will begin the following week against Dartmouth.
Last year, the Bulldogs trounced Cornell 37–17.