Big Red Balloon Takes Off, 19-17

Cornell's Sharp QB

The script wasn't that dramatic.

Chris Cochrane didn't come off the Cornell bench with his team down four touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.

Big Red Coach Maxie Baughan didn't say to his sophomore quarterback, "Okay, Chris, we're down by 28 points. Harvard's tough. We need to pull one out."

Chris Cochrane wasn't wearing a cape over his jersey. He had no red "S" sprawled across the front of his shirt.

But when the Big Red was dead--trailing, 17-7, to Harvard Saturday afternoon at The Stadium and showing no signs of life--Cochrane, wearing two black gloves that kept his hands dry from the bitter Cambridge rain, brought his smile to the field.

Final score: Cornell 19, Harvard 17.

"Any time I played in high school, I was smiling out on the field," Cochrane said. "The game was fun for me. Soon as I got warmed up on the field [Saturday], I was smiling again."

Last year, after the Big Red had staged a last-second comeback that deflated the Crimson in Ithaca, N.Y., Baughan said it was a good day for Cornellians but a bad day for Harvard.

It was another good day for Cornellians Saturday afternoon at The Stadium.

This year, there were no last-second Hail Mary passes. There were no desperation juggles in the end zone. Just a smiling sophomore quarterback.

In the third quarter, starting quarterback Aaron Sumida and the Cornell offense looked for first downs only to find that the Harvard defense had stolen the first down markers.

"When Chris came in, we hadn't done very much," Baughan said.

The Big Red engine was sputtering. In comes Cochrane and the engine shows some life. After the first of two safeties, it was running, not at full speed but enough to tie the game.

With six minutes left in the game and the Red at the Harvard 23, Cochrane dropped back and threw a pass intended for Sam Brickley. A Harvard defender deflected the ball but it still found Brickley's hands. Two plays later, Scott Malaga busted in for the touchdown.

The Red was still down by two. The two-point conversion was a must. Cochrane, perhaps smiling as he dropped back to pass, found Brickley open in the flat for the score.

So long 10-point Harvard lead. The Big Red was back. Cochrane was smiling.

"I thought it was a good move," Harvard Coach Joe Restic said of the quarterback substitution. "He made the two-point play, which was a big one."

Cochrane was no Roger Staubach Saturday afternoon at the Stadium. He was just a sophomore quarterback who completed three of six passes for 33 yards. Not spectacular. But good enough.

What Cochrane did show was what Sumida lacked in the third quarter: poise. Sumida played like he had to force the comeback. Cochrane kicked back, smiled a bit and played a poised game.

Once again, the Big Red stole another victory from the Crimson. The last-minute comeback was less than dramatic, less than spectacular.

Chris Cochrane wasn't the All American hero who led his team to victory with his golden arm. He didn't have to be Mr. All-American. Just a sophomore quarterback with poise.