ITHACA, N.Y. – Six overtimes were not needed this time.
A year after engaging in a six-overtime, six-hour affair with Cornell and having only a loss to show for it, Penn scored a touchdown in each quarter to build a 28-0 lead against the Big Red and held on for a 28-14 win in Ithaca.
The Quakers more than doubled up the Big Red in total yards, gaining 516 to Cornell’s 250. The bulk of the yardage came on the ground for the Quakers as five rushers combined for 311 yards. Mike Beamish was the workhorse, carrying the ball 24 times for 190 yards – an average of 7.9 yards-per-carry. Beamish’ 190 yards on the ground were the most since Mike Bagnoli went for 266 against Princeton on Nov. 5, 2010.
While Beamish carried the mail, it was Joe Raso who made the final deliveries for the Quakers in the ground game. The sophomore recorded his first career multi-touchdown game, pounding in runs of three yards and two yards when the Quakers closed in on the end zone.
After forcing Cornell to a three-and-out to start the game, Penn quickly moved down field to open the scoring. After a 26-yard Mike McCurdy rush gave Penn first-and-goal from the four, Raso rushed twice, finally plunging in from three yards out to give Penn a 7-0 lead 3:49 into the game.
Neither team would score until there was no time remaining on the clock in the second half. As he did last week against Mansfield, McCurdy launched a Hail Mary on the half’s final play – but this time he connected. He found Jack Epstein from 39 yards out to give Penn a14-0 lead at the break. That play capped a four-play, 89-yard drive for the Quakers.The first three plays were all rushes, Beamish hustling for 35 on first down, then rushes of 10 yards and 22 yards from McCurdy before the long bomb to Epstein.
The Quakers would quickly increase their lead in the third quarter, marching 65 yards to tack on a third touchdown for a 21-0 lead. The play of importance was a 37-yard completion from McCurdy to Keith Braccia. The catch was part of a six-catch, 81-yard night for Braccia and set up the Quakers for first-and-goal from the Cornell two-yard line. Raso rumbled in on the next play and Penn was ahead by three touchdowns.
Penn’s final touchdown of the game capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive which ate up over six minutes of clock. McCurdy connected with Freddy Ordonez on a 10-yard touchdown, one of three completions on the drive for the freshman quarterback.
Cornell attempted to climb back into the game, doing so in quick fashion. Nick Perez returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards, setting the Big Red up at the Penn 6-yard line. One play later, Brendan Miller threw a 16-yard touchdown and Cornell had its first points of the game. Cornell had a bit of momentum and it carried over to an onside kick recovery. A pass interference penalty on Penn helped the Big Red move deeper into Quaker territory, and Miller would eventually sneak in from one-yard out to cut Penn’s lead to 28-14 with 2:51 to play. Cornell would again try an onside kick, but this one was recovered by Penn and the Quakers would run out the clock.
The Quakers improved to 2-1 this season, and sit alone in third place in the CSFL. Cornell falls to 0-3 with the loss.
Beamish’s 190 yards on the ground are a new career high, besting his previous career high of 139.
Ed Cai led a defense which stymied the Big Red throughout the game, registering three sacks and two more tackles for loss as part of a six-tackle night. He added an interception for good measure. Stu Helgeson and Matt Pellegrino each had a team-high five solo tackles, while Derek Shnider added a sack.
The Red and Blue are on the road next week, headed to Annapolis and a date with undefeated Navy.