Bison football fall 24-16 to Cornell in home opener

Becky Chambers, Contributing Writer

The Bison football team had their home opener against Cornell University on Sept. 17 at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The game kicked off at 6 p.m. with the stadium seats on the home team’s side packed with supporters.

Although the Bison ultimately fell to Cornell 24-16, the team had some standout performances. Wide receiver Will Carter ’17 recorded 122 receiving yards and nine receptions, his sixth career 100-yard game. Running back Joey DeFloria ’18 rushed for 154 yards and garnered both touchdowns of the game for the Orange and the Blue. Matt Muh ’18, making his first career start as quarterback, completed 17 out of 33 passes for 215 yards.

The Bison won the coin toss and deferred, and by the end of the first quarter had put seven points on the scoreboard. The game started out a little rough with a misguided tackle that led to an ambulance on the field for a Cornell player. After the incident, the teams got back into the swing of things and the first touchdown came at 8:38 when DeFloria ran to get the ball across the line for his fifth career touchdown. Jack Chambers ’19 made his career debut and got the extra point to push the score up to 7-0.

The second quarter began with a 77-yard drive by the Bison, ending with a 21-yard field goal by Chambers to add another three points. Cornell began to make their own push to the end zone after the field goal and got their first points on the board with a 41-yard field goal. Cornell continued to push and ended the second quarter with a touchdown and successful extra point kick. The first half ended with the teams tied 10-10.

After the half-time festivities, the Bison returned to the field, starting off strong with a 17-yard pass from Muh to wide receiver Alan Butler ’19 for a first down. DeFloria then ran for his second touchdown of the game with an impressive 26 yard run to the end zone. The extra point kick was blocked, bringing the score to 16-10 in favor of the Bison. Cornell quickly answered with their own touchdown, overcoming the Bison 17-16. Cornell continued their scoring streak, adding another touchdown before the end of the third quarter, pushing their advantage to 24-16.

The fourth quarter saw long and hard drives by the Bison that were ultimately unsuccessful. The Bison defense was able to stave off another Cornell touchdown with some strong showings. Bret Berg ’17 led the defense with 13 tackles, while Ben Richard ’18 had 10. Mark Pyles ’18 was able to take down Cornell’s quarterback for the Bison’s only sack. Pyles also had eight tackles along with Nick O’Brien ’17, who doubled as the punt returner, Bryan Marine ’19, and Joe Lauro ’19.

The final drive for the Orange and Blue allowed Carter to make a crucial fourth-down reception. The 29-yard completion to Carter on a fourth-and-14 allowed the Bison to convert a fourth down and three third downs. His standout performance during the game brought him to a total of 2,215 receiving yards, moving him into second place for the program’s history of career receiving yards.

With just under 10 minutes of play, the Bison took possession and tried for a fourth-down pass to Andrew Owers ’19 that ended up being short.

“We dominated them on both sides of the ball all game but we had three turnovers offensively,” Owers said. “It’s hard to win a college football game with only 16 points and three turnovers.”

“The team played hard and left all they had out on the field,” Chambers said. “It was unfortunate that we couldn’t come away with a win for our first home game, but we are all looking to improve and get a win against VMI next weekend.”

The Bison will be back home on Sept. 24 as they face VMI at 3 p.m. It will be Family Weekend and the team hopes to see a packed stadium.

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