ITHACA, N.Y. - The Penn sprint football team opened its 2012 season with an instant classic, but unfortunately the Quakers were on the short end as Cornell outlasted them, 42-34, in six overtimes Friday night at Schoellkopf Field.
The game was delayed nearly two hours by inclement weather and featured four interceptions and five missed field goals before matters were settled.
Penn led 21-14 after three quarters, but Cornell tied things up with a Jake Michaels TD and John Rodriguez kick with 7:55 left in regulation.
The teams battled through five overtimes and were still tied at that point, 34-34. In two of the OTs the first possessing team scored a touchdown, only to have the second team match it. On the other three extra sessions, neither team could score a point.
Cornell had the first possession in the sixth OT, and on its first play Brendan Miller hurled a ball to the 1-yard line that senior receiver Abe Mellinger somehow came down with despite seeming to be behind a Penn defender when both players went up in the air.
With the ball just inches from the goal, Miller ran in a quarterback sneak to put the team ahead 40-34. A beautiful pass to the left side of the end zone to Spenser Gruenenfelder put the Big Red ahead 42-34 with some defending still to do.
The Quakers took over possession 25 yards from goal and were stymied by the Big Red's defense. Three short-gain rushing plays made it fourth-and-1 from the Cornell 16-yard line, and a short pass by quarterback Keith Braccia went incomplete, ending the marathon game just before midnight.
Much, much earlier in the night, Penn took a 7-0 lead on a three-yard run from Braccia in the first quarter. That's when the skies opened up and the lightning started coming, delaying the game until nearly 9 p.m.
Cornell scored twice in the final minute of the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead, but Braccia and Whit Shaw combined on a 65-yard pass that evened the score at halftime. In the third quarter, the Quakers took a 21-14 lead when Joe Raso ran the ball in from 37 yards out.
Mike Beamish ran for 139 yards to lead the Quaker attack, while Braccia threw for 180 yards and Shaw caught six balls for 115 yards. For Cornell, Miller ran for a team-high 60 yards and threw for another 241 with 21 completions. Mellinger had eight catches totaling 102 yards.
Penn is back in action in two weeks, facing CSFL newcomer Franklin Pierce on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Oakmont High School in Ashburnham, Mass.