Football drops another close contest: Bison unable to convert on final drive

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Eric Brod
Senior writer

The Bison have been led by their defense so far this season, but the offense once again failed to deliver as the Orange and Blue dropped their third straight contest, a 15-10 decision at the hands of Cornell. The Bison are now 1-3 on the season. While the Bison were able to move inside the Big Red 15-yard line in the final minute, the offense was unable to cross the goal line for the go-ahead score.

After the defense forced Cornell to punt after a three and out, the Bison returned the punt near midfield with 3:20 left to play in the game, trailing 15-10. After three straight Brandon Wesley ’14 completions brought the Orange and Blue to the Cornell 28-yard line, Tyler Smith ’13 converted on a 4th-and-1 on the ensuing series to keep the Bison comeback drive alive. Unfortunately, the Bison were unable to convert a first down on the next series, sealing their fate.

“Our offense must do a better job of sustaining drives and converting possessions,” Head coach Joe Susan said. “As a team, we will keep working to put ourselves in position to make more explosive plays.”

The defense, led by a career-high 12 tackles from linebacker Evan Byers ’15, kept Big Red quarterback Jeff Mathews in check, holding him to 27-46 passing for 278 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Byers attributes many factors to his success this season.

“Just using all of last year as a learning experience and to find out what college football is all about. Coach Pennypacker, the linebackers coach, and also Beau Traber [’13], the other starting linebacker, have helped me a great amount in improving from last year to this year,” Byers said. “Also the defensive line and the secondary have been doing a great job making it easier for me to get tackles and put pressure on the QB.”

Coming into play, the Cornell offense was averaging 36 points per game, while Mathews had thrown seven touchdowns in his previous two games.

“The most important part is [Byers’] work ethic, on and off the field. He is a high motor player. This is consistent with how he trains and how he prepares for a game,” Susan said. “I am sure Evan will continue to develop into one of the better linebackers in the league.”

The defense also received a huge contribution from safety Ryan Morgan ’14, who had eight tackles and one interception. Traber also contributed eight tackles.

The Orange and Blue took an early lead on a two-yard run by running back Jeremiah Young ’13, his first score of the year. The play was set up by a 63-yard run by Charles Thompson ’14. Cornell responded with the game’s next 15 points. The Bison next scored on a 29-yard field goal by Sean Cobelli ’14 with 5:14 remaining in the game.

Wesley had a solid day passing, going 19-29 for 135 yards. Victor Walker ’14 proved to be the go to man again, catching eight passes for 57 yards. Smith returned to rush for 44 yards on 12 carries. The Bison were once again plagued by penalties, committing six for 75 yards. Cornell outgained the Bison on offense 361-286.

The Bison will return tomorrow against Patriot League rival Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

“We need to capitalize on all the chances we get this weekend and when the time comes to make those plays, we need to make them,” Byers said. “The defense needs to create more turnovers so that we can win the turnover battle and allow our offense to have the ball more.”

Susan knows the offense must generate sustained drives early to ignite the squad as it looks to earn its second win of the season.

“We have to continue to work to improve our ability to put points on the board. Smith will be closer to 100 percent, and with the combination of Tyler, Young and Thompson, we must be a better run team,” Susan said.

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