The Big Red football team won its first game of the season on Saturday against Columbia by a score of 3-0 in what was one of the greatest defensive performances in recent school history. The defense, a much maligned unit throughout much of the year, recorded the first shutout of an opposing team in 22 years to win the Empire State Bowl and give the seniors a victory in their last home game.
Columbia actually out-gained Cornell on offense with 302 yards compared to just 193 from the Big Red. However, turnovers proved to be the difference as the Lions threw two interceptions and fumbled once while Cornell played a turnover-free game. The Columbia passing game particularly struggled with just 42 passing yards. Inside linebacker Miles Norris led the way for the stalwart defense with a team-high eight tackles and a forced fumble. Sean Scullen and Nick Gesauldi each had a pick on the day as well. Running back Cameron Molina was one of the only bright spots for Columbia with 151 rushing yards.
The Cornell offense also had a rough day producing any kind of yardage. Quarterback Robert Somborn was only able to throw for 41 yards on the day, which was a season low for the junior. Even running back Luke Hagy struggled in his final home game rushing for just 68 yards on 24 carries. However, it was enough to get Zach Mays in position to kick a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter for the only points of the game. The offense was able to come through in the clutch as well by running out the last five minutes of the game to seal the victory.
Needless to say, this was a big game for Cornell. Not only was it the first win of the season, but it also claimed the Empire State Bowl, a tradition that began between these two teams in 2010. The victory also came on a day the Big Red honored its seniors, who will be departing after this year. Next up will be the final game of the season against Penn at 1 pm next Saturday in Philadelphia. The teams will be competing for the Trustee’s Cup.