NEW HAVEN, C.T. (CORNELL ATHLETICS) –
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter to defending Ivy League champ and preseason favorite Yale at the historic Yale Bowl, it looked bleak for a Cornell team that had only won in Connecticut against the Bulldogs once this century. But it’s always darkest before the dawn, and the Big Red had plenty of time to show its grit.
Jackson Kennedy split the uprights with his 37-yard field goal attempt as the clock struck zero and the Cornell football team mobbed him on the field to punctuate a 23-21 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. The Big Red improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2016 and for just the fourth time since 2000 with the win, while the Bulldogs fell to 0-2 in the Ivy opener for both teams.
Kennedy’s third field goal of the game and sixth of the season came after Yale pulled a near miraculous comeback at home, scoring a go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-and-20 from the Big Red 30 with 3:14 remaining. That turn of events came after the Bulldogs saw a 14-0 first quarter lead evaporate when the visitors dominated the latter half of the game and scored 20 consecutive points to go out in front.
Junior quarterback Jameson Wang was sensational, completing 26-of-36 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown and running for 34 more and a score. He directed the offense to 371 yards and 38:41 in time of possession, executing the game plan effectively and efficiently. Sophomore running back Gannon Carothers piled up 95 rushing yards on nine carries as the Big Red ran for 174 yards on the ground as a team. In all, 11 different players caught at least one pass, with Nicholas Laboy hauling in five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Kennedy, the reigning Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week, was again a difference maker. He was 3-for-3 on field goals, nailed both PAT kicks, averaged 59.8 yards on kickoffs with two touchbacks and had two punts that yielded zero return yards while placing one inside the 20.
The defense, which gave up just 301 total yards, was led by Connor Henderson’s seven tackles and an interception, the lone takeaway on the day for the Big Red. Rasean Thomas added six tackles and Holt Fletcher was credited with five, with both recording tackles for loss and Thomas adding a pass breakup to his sack.
Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Nolan Grooms passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 76 more to lead the Bulldogs’ offense, with Tre Patterson also running for a score. Both Mason Tipton and Chase Nenad caught touchdown passes. Joseph Vaughn posted 12 tackles with two for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble, while Osize Daniyan had 11 stops and also forced a fumble. Clay Patterson notched seven tackles with 2.5 for a loss and a sack.
• Both teams punted before Yale took control of the first quarter. The Bulldogs faced a short field, starting their second drive from the Cornell 40-yard line. Six rushes, a pass, and a Cornell penalty got Yale in the endzone for a 7-0 lead with 6:34 left in the quarter.
• The Big Red began the march down the field for an answer, but a fumble gave Yale possession at its 25-yard line.
• Grooms put together two passes and got the Bulldogs back into the endzone, to take a 14-0 lead with just under three minutes left in the first.
• Wang went 7-for-8 passing in the first quarter, but the Big Red remained shut out after 15 minutes.
• Cornell was held to its second punt of the day with 13:33 in the second, but the defense held strong, forcing its first three-and-out of the day at less than three minutes into the quarter.
• A Cornell turnover on downs following an incomplete pass at the Yale 45-yard line, the Bulldogs again began marching down the field. Back-to-back penalties on the Bulldogs pushed Yale back to the 36, where the Big Red forced the Bulldogs to a field goal that went wide right.
• The ensuing turnover on downs sparked a 51-yard drive for Cornell that concluded with a Kennedy field goal, good from 34 yards out.
• Henderson’s interception came right when the Big Red needed it, stopping a 25-yard Bulldogs’ drive with 14 seconds left in the first half.
• Cornell opened the second half receiving the kick. Wang led the Big Red offense down the field 41 yards to the Yale 29-yard line, where he faced a fourth and four. Staying calm under pressure, the junior quarterback connected with Laboy on a 12 yard pass to keep the drive alive. Five plays later, Wang dove into his offensive line at the one-yard line to secure the first Cornell touchdown of the day.
• The Cornell defense sealed another three-and-out in its first rotation of the second half, and five plays later, Wang found himself facing another fourth down, this time at the Yale 18. This time, Wang carried it himself, with a six-yard rush up the middle, narrowly earning a first down. Four plays later, Wang hit Laboy in the endzone for a three-yard touchdown pass. The score gave the Big Red its first lead of the day, 17-14.
• Yale missed a second field goal to open the fourth quarter, this time from 39 yards.
• Cornell answered with a 9:16 long drive that ended with a 22-yard Kennedy field goal, to stretch the Big Red lead to six.
• The Bulldogs final drive benefited from a Cornell penalty, getting the Elis to the Cornell 20. A Yale penalty backed the Bulldogs up to the 30-yard line, and at fourth and 20, Grooms found Mason Tipton to give Yale one last lead, 21-20.
• The Big Red soaked up the rest of the clock, marching down the field 56 yards to set up Kennedy for the game-winning kick, which he drilled from 37 yards out.
• The Big Red is back in action next weekend for its first home game of the season. Cornell will host Colgate at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 30 for the annual Homecoming game.