Sprint football falters in season opener against Mansfield


After a one-year hiatus from competition, Cornell Sprint Football traveled to northern Pennsylvania to face the Mansfield Mounties in their first game of the 2021 season. Seeking to improve from their record 1 At 5 in 2019, the Reds had high hopes of starting their season on a better note against the Mounties.

In Saturday’s game, the Reds felt the rust of not having played for more than a year and a half. After being forced to stumble on a 4th and a 17 from Mansfield territory, Mansfield recovered a weak snap and a smothered recovery in the end zone, for a savage 7-0 deficit at the start.

Two offensive shots later, the Red, after forcing a second consecutive punt from Mansfield’s offense, received two solid runs from junior Jacob Wynkoop, putting Cornell at the seven-yard line. Unable to find the end zone after a 3rd wait call, Spencer Katz drilled a 32-yard basket through the uprights, bringing the score closer, at 7-3.

“It was super fun. I played football all through high school, but I had never played football, ”Katz said of his first regular season game. “So it was a pretty nice feeling to play football, it was like a pretty cool cornerstone for my athletic journey.”

Approaching the field goal itself, Katz stressed that repetition and preparation are essential. “The kick is so much about repetition. I just took my normal three steps back and then a few to the side and braced and kicked.

Unfortunately for the Reds, the punt woes continued, as a failed snap was once again caught in Cornell’s end zone for Mansfield’s second touchdown in as many quarters.

From there, the Reds lost their footing. Despite a strong defensive performance for most of the first half, Mansfield quarterback Cahsid Raymond found the end zone virtually untouched on a 75-yard run on a read option. After a quick punt and three-and-outs from Cornell, Raymond found the end zone again, connecting on a 50-yard-deep pass on the run, widening the score to 28-3 just two minutes longer. late.

Allow those big plays to turn into a big storyline for Cornell’s defense. While solid in most short film scenarios, the Reds would continue to allow Mansfield’s offensive big plays early in their practices, including another 61-yard run on a designed quarterback in the first play. of their second practice in the third quarter. Four minutes later, the Mounties would complete an 83-yard touchdown pass on the 3rd and 10th to bring the score to 45-3.

Head coach Bob Gneo was not worried about his defense beyond the big games but said the team will strive to be more disciplined in the future.

“We had a hold penalty and an offside penalty that pushed us back and it’s hard to beat a 1st and 20 or a 2nd and 15 anytime like that, especially against a good team like Mansfield,” he said. he declared. “We just have to play in a more disciplined way, you know, right now we have to play almost perfectly to do well.”

The loss of starting quarterback Xavier Martinez ’23 to a hip injury early in the second half also dampened the Reds’ offensive attack.

With six total turnovers that day, the Reds will be grateful for their upcoming week off before hosting Caldwell University home on Friday, October 1. However, coach Gneo is optimistic about their next game.

“We have to deal with the little things – the little mistakes that we made. I’m not really depressed because we played a pretty good game except for the big plays and a few mistakes we made in attack. If we clean up these things against Caldwell, we’ll be very competitive, ”said Gneo.

Katz agreed that by cleaning up his game the team could be competitive, especially at home.

“We’re very capable, and we just need to get a handle on it, and I think the best way to do that is through repetition and practice. I feel very optimistic for this next game, ”said Katz. “I think we just have to practice what we had mistakes on in the first game, and I think we will be very prepared. And just having this family environment with our friends and more family members at the game is exciting. “

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