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All week, Harvard worried about protecting Adam Lazarre-White. The Crimson quarterback was dumped 12 times last week against Holy Cross.
But today, it would be Cornell that put the Ivy League lead in the bag, as Tim Cronin's last-minute sack clinched the Big Red's 20-17 win at The Stadium this afternoon.
With Harvard facing a third and goal at the Big Red 10-yard line, Cronin dumped Lazarre-White way back at the 27. And Scott Johnson's almost impossible 45-yard field goal into the wind fell far short at the buzzer.
Cornell (2-2 overall, 2-0 Ivy) takes over the Ivy League lead, while Harvard (2-2, 1-1) fell into a fourth-place tie with Princeton, which beat Brown 27-23.
The Big Red took the lead with five minutes remaining on Matthew Hepfer's career-best 41 yard field goal.
Midway through the fourth quarter, John McNiff and Scott Oliaro combined to move the ball from Cornell's 35 yard line to Harvard's 30-yard line for a Cornell first down to set up the winning score.
On the day, McRiff had a career-high 191 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
"We wanted to keep control of the line of scrimmage and keep their defense off the field. we've got a great offensive line, and they came through all day long," said McRiff.
On its last drive, Harvard took over at its own 33-yard line. A Colby Maher reverse on third and ten gave the Crimson a first down at the 43. Andy Bell's four carries helped Harvard pick up three more first downs, and bring the ball down to Cornell's 23.
On second down, Bell broke through a hole in the left side for a 15-yard gain, and a first and goal at the Cornell 9 with 55 seconds left in the game.
But an incomplete pass to Rodney Taylor in the end zone, and a one-yard loss by Bell, set up Cronin's late game heroics.
"We were all on the sidelines praying and the D came up big," McNiff said. "It was a bit lucky, but well take anything we can get."
The Crimson self-destructed in the first five minutes of the second half. It took Cornell only three minutes to tie the game after halftime, with McNiff breaking through a big hole in the right side and glided down the sideline for a 66-yard scoring run.
Jay Rideout and Colby Maher collided on the ensuing kickoff and the ball bounced off Rideout's shoulder pads and was recovered by Cornell's Robb Levin at the Harvard 21-yard-line. Scott Oliero rushed the ball on five carries down to the Harvard one-yard line, and McRiff's second touchdown run put the Big Red ahead 17-10, just five minuets into the third quarter.
Harvard botched the next kickoff, as well, but Kayode Owens recovered the loose ball to give Harvard possession at its own 33-yard line.
Both teams stalled on their ensuing drives with the Crimson defense coming through again as it has all season long. Harvard took over on its own 24-yard line, and drove 76 yards over five minutes for the tying touchdown. The Crimson offensive line took over the game without injured tackle Tom Callahan and Darrin Duda on the drive.
Andy Bell's 29 yards and Kendrick Joyce's 18 yards rushing led the big drive, Harvard's second long drive of the day. A spectacular Jim Mrowka reception between three defenders on a third and eight and Bell's 17-yard gallop through the right side brought the Crimson to the Cornell 16-yard line. Lazarre-White then scrambled to the six-yard line for a first down, and Bell soon added his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run to tie the game, 17-17, with one minute remaining in the third quarter.
But Harvard would not score again.
"They gave us the ball twice at the 50 twice in the second half, and we didn't get any points out of it. That's the ball game right there," Bell said.
Early on, the bounces were going Harvard's way. Although Cornell rushed for more than 130 yards in the first half, the Crimson managed to open up a 10-3 lead.
On Harvard's first drive, Lazarre-White picked up a first down on a quarterback option, and his ensuing fumble bounded out of bounds at the Harvard 29.
Two plays later, a diving grab by halfback Andy Bell finished a perfectly executived play-action pass, bringing the ball to the Cornell 43. Bell's 39 yards receiving sparked a 13-play, 82-yard scoring drive, which ate up five minutess on the clock and gave Harvard a 7-0 lead.
The drive was highlighted by another option run by Lazarre-White on a 3rd and 7 from the 41. A screen pass to Bell and big runs by Matt Johnson and Kendrick Joyce set up Bell's 2-yard touchdown plunge for the score. McNiff, who rushed for 70 yards in the first quarter alone, gained 23 of those on a beautifully run option to start the Cornell drive. He was pushed out of bounds by Sean Koscho at the Harvard 45.
Another McNiff break into the open field brought Cornell to the Harvard 16. But John Sparks and John Lausch stuffed Scott Olairo on 3rd and 5, forcing a Mathew Hepfer 28-yard field goal that ruined Harvard's shutout bid.
Spencer Neumann's recovery of a squibb kick which struck Kayode Owens on the ankle prevented the Big Red from taking over at mid-field. Lazarre-White continued to run the option successfully, helping the drive down to the Cornell 14-yard line. A third-down reception by Colby Maher kept the drive alive, and Matt Johnson's 11-yard run set the Crimson up in scoring position at the 13-yard line.
Scott Johnson's kick at the opening of the second quarter pushed Harvard into a 10-3 lead.
Cornell's subsequent drive stalled on a holding penality from first team all-Ivy lineman Jay Bloedorn, but the Big Red threatened on its next series.
On first down, linebacker Joe Gordian sacked Cochrane. Then Mike Grant dropped a sure touchdown pass on the goal line on a second-down timing pattern. And finally, on third down, Cochrane himself dropped another sure touchdown pass, this time on a halfback option from McNiff. Hepfer's 41-yard field goal attept sailed wide left. Big Red, 20-17 at The Stadium Cornell0-3-14-3--20 HARVARD 7-3-7-0--17
H--Bell 2 run (S. Johnson kick), 7:48
C--FG Hepfer 24, 11:26
H--FG S. Johnson 31, 0:04
C-John McNiff 66 run, (Hepfer kick), 2:19
C-McNiff 3 run, (Hepfer kick), 5:00
H-Bell 1 run, (S.Johnson kick), 14:08
C-FG Hepfer 41, 10:15
Rushing: C--McNiff 22-189, Oliaro 15-55, Cochrane 10-12, Case 2-6, Datchyshyn 1-3; H--Bell 20-89, M.Johnson 14-56, Hirsch 4-28, Joyce 4-28, Maher 1-8, Lazarre-White 16(-22).
Passing: C--Cochrane 8-15-0-64; H--Lazarre-White 8-13-0-92.
Receiving: C--McNiff 2-18, P. Reynolds 2-17, Oliaro 2-13, Grant 2-10, Branon 1-8; H--Bell 2-39, Lombara 2-19, Maher 2-18, Mrowka, 1-14, M.Johnson 1-2.
Missed Field Goals: C--Hepfer 41; H--S.Johnson 45.
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