Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Jeff Mathews set an Ivy League record for most career passing yards Saturday, but the Big Red football team dropped a 41-20 decision to Colgate at Schoellkopf Field. Cornell slipped to 1-2, while Colgate improved to 1-4.
Mathews was 33-for-44 for 351 yards and two touchdowns on the day, with his final completion setting the record on a shovel pass to Ty Bostain in the right flat with 3:03 remaining. Mathews ended the day with 9,303 yards, surpassing Brown's James Perry (9.294). He also established an Ivy record for most career 300-yard games with his 15th.
Grant Gellatly was on the receiving end of 13 Mathews passes for 138 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown strike with 22 seconds left in the second quarter to give the Big Red a 20-17 lead at the break. But Colgate scored 24 unanswered points in the second half. Luke Hagy also reeled in 10 catches for 104 yards. Dustin Dillard led the rushing attack with 31 yards on eight carries, but the Big Red was outgained on the ground, 258-52.
In a battle of two of the best quarterbacks in the Football Championship Subdivision, Mathews and Colgate's Gavin McCarney were toe-to-toe until the Raiders' signal-caller was injured early in the third quarter. Jake Melville emerged off the bench and never missed stride, leading the preseason Patriot League favorites to their first win of the year (1-4).
The Big Red offense found a rhythm on its second drive of the game. Mathews found Chris Lenz (six catches, 77 yards) at midfield, then Hagy turned up field for 15 more yards to give the Big Red offense a little traction. A personal foul on Colgate for unnecessary roughness pushed Cornell into the red zone. But for the first time this season, the Big Red couldn't convert from within their opponents' 20 when Mike Armiento stepped in front of a sideline pass to the right side and returned it untouched for the opening score to make it 7-0 Colgate with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
Cornell would answer to tie the game a little more than three minutes later, aided by another Raiders personal foul for a late hit early in the drive. Mathews would later find Lenz for a 24-yard strike into the end zone on a flag pattern to the left, tying the game at 7 with 1:37 left in the opening quarter.
After Colgate regained the lead with a 30-yard field goal by Andy Burgess, Cornell used a methodical 15-play drive to take its first lead of the day. Mathews marched the Big Red 88 yards with three third-down conversions, including a pair of passes to Gellatly to the Cornell 30 and Colgate 35. A Raiders sack left the Big Red with a second-and-long, but a pair of rushes by Dillard kept the drive alive. Gellatly then capped it off with a 6-yard rush for a touchdown off a wildcat formation. Wells followed with the extra point, giving the Big Red a 14-10 lead with 3:21 remaining in the half.
That drive chewed up 7:22, but the next two drives needed less than half that time combined -- and both produced touchdowns. Colgate struck first with a drive featuring a perfectly thrown 33-yard pass up the right sideline to Dan Cason. The Raiders later found the end zone with 1:11 left on a 13-yard pass to John Quazza.
But Mathews went to work and pushed the Big Red back ahead before the half. He was 7-for-7 for 75 yards on the ensuing drive, including a 23-yard missile over the middle to Gellatly with 27 seconds remaining. After Cornell called a timeout to stop the clock, Mathews found Gellatly from 6 yards for the score and a 20-17 lead at the break.
The third quarter featured a dramatically different pace, with both teams grinding out their first drives of the frame. Colgate started with a 15-play drive topped off by a 6-yard run by Melville on a fourth-down read-option play. A missed PAT attempt left the score 23-20 Colgate.
Cornell missed a pair of field goal attempts bookending a forced and recovered fumble, then Colgate stormed down the field in quick fashion to take a two-possession lead with 13:17 remaining. A 41-yard pass from Melville to Cason set up a 31-yard Melville rush up the right sideline to the 4. Jimmy DeCicco (22 carries, 146 yards) scampered in around right end, and the PAT attempt was pushed to the right, keeping score 29-20 in favor of the visitors.
The Big Red was forced to punt on its next possession, leading to a quick Colgate response. DeCicco ran through the middle and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown. But, once again, the PAT was no good -- this time blocked by Bobby Marani -- making the score 35-20.
Mathews hit Gellatly for what appeared to be a 31-yard gain into Colgate territory, but the Big Red was flagged for an illegal receiver downfield. While Hagy's catch-and-run gave Cornell a new set of downs with which to work, Armiento reeled in his second interception of the day with a 49-yard return to essentially seal the Big Red's fate.
Cornell returns to action next weekend when it meets Harvard on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 12:30 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field.
(Courtesy: Cornell Athletics)