ITHACA – Redemption was sweet for Mike McCurdy on Friday night as the junior quarterback accounted for all four of his team’s touchdowns in a 29-12 win for the University of Pennsylvania sprint football team at Cornell.
McCurdy ran for a career-high three touchdowns and passed for another as the Quakers used an efficient first-half offensive attack to build a large lead, then countered with opportunistic defense in the second half to stave off any chance at a Big Red comeback.
It was special teams that gave the Quakers a boost early, as Penn blocked a Cornell punt on the game’s first drive. Chris Colavita recovered the block, giving Penn prime starting position – the Cornell 15-yard line – for its first drive of the day. McCurdy would finish that short drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to Henry Mason.
Penn would close the first quarter with a second touchdown drive. McCurdy had a big play in the air – connecting with Andrew Sutton on a 41-yard pass to give the Quakers first and goal from the Cornell three-yard line. On the next play, McCurdy would scamper in to give Penn a 14-3 lead.
Penn’s first drive of the second quarter was a long effort, the Quakers moving 59 yards on eight plays in 4:02. McCurdy and Mason would connect on two long passing plays to again set up the Quakers inside the Big Red five-yard line. Once more, it was a three-yard rushing touchdown for McCurdy which found paydirt, giving Penn a 20-6 lead.
A one-yard sneak for McCurdy capped Penn’s fourth touchdown drive of the half, finishing a 10-play, 49-yard drive. The big play on the drive was a 22-yard pass from McCurdy to Jonathan Lilley which took Penn from midfield to the Cornell 22.
The Red and Blue struggled to finish in the third quarter – missing a 33-yard field goal and having a pass intercepted at the Cornell one-yard line. The interception came after a fortunate bounce for the Quakers where the Big Red muffed a punt return, and Penn recovered to regain possession.
A Stu Helgeson fumble recovery deep inside Cornell territory at the Big Red 22-yard line early in the fourth quarter sparked a short scoring drive for the Quakers. Mario del Cueto connected on a 34-yard field goal with 11:26 to play, giving Penn a 29-6 lead.
The lead was good enough for Penn to hold, a Kevin Nathanson two-yard touchdown rush with 7:36 to play nothing more than closing the gap as Chris Colavita came up with a huge interception with 3:06 to play and the Big Red driving to try and get within one touchdown.
Max Jones would close the game, rushing for 27 yards and running out the clock on the game’s final drive.
Jones finished with 97 yards on 25 carries, while McCurdy gained 44 yards rushing on 14 carries and his three touchdowns.
James Juliano was again a key factor on defense, registering ten total tackles – five solo – to lead the defense. Stu Helgeson had seven solo tackles as part of his nine-stop night. Hunter Heflin had six tackles, including the lone sack of the game for the Penn defense.
The Quakers return to Franklin Field on October 16, taking on Mansfield at 7 p.m.
Download: Cornell SFB.pdf