Oh No, Not Again: Splendorio Seals Another Improbable Cornell Comeback

In what may go down in the annals of Harvard football history as one of the most devastating losses it ever suffered, the Cornell Big Red scored 29 unanswered second-half points on Saturday, defeating the Crimson 29-28 in front of 9,270 at Harvard Stadium. Cornell (2-2, 2-0 Ivy) sealed the win when co-captain Joe Splendorio blocked Harvard's last-second 27-yard field-goal attempt to end the game.

"Obviously, we didn't handle prosperity very well," Harvard Coach Tim Murphy said. "We've never been ahead in a game, so this was kind of new territory for us."

With Harvard's once mighty 28-0 lead, whittled down to 28-23, Cornell junior quarterback Ricky Rahne took over at his own 12-yard line with 4:01 to play. Back to-back first down completions brought the Big Red to midfield. But on fourth-and-five from the Crimson 48, Rahne found Tim Hermann wide open on a post pattern and Hermann took it all the way to the end zone, for a stunning 29-28 lead.

Cornell missed the two-point conversion, setting up a potentially game-winning drive for Harvard with 2:45 left.

Junior quarterback Neil Rose took over at his own 26-yard line. He promptly connected with junior wideout Dan Farley for 8 yards to begin a near textbook two-minute drill. Sophomore split end Carl Morris had two critical catches on this drive. He caught a 9-yard slant on fourth-and-1 from the Crimson 35. Two plays later, he had a 36 yard reception over the middle, which brought the ball to the Cornell 20 with 1:19 remaining.

Instead of continuing the air attack, Murphy was content on letting sophomore tailback Matt Leiszler run three times up the middle to set up first-and-goal at the Cornell 10 with 37 seconds on the clock and one timeout.

At this point, Murphy made a highly controversial decision to have Rose take a knee, call the Crimson's final timeout and let freshman placekicker Robbie Wright decide the outcome of the game with a 27-yard field goal attempt. Splendorio tipped it wide right as time expired.

"I thought real hard about [taking a shot in the end zone]," Murphy said. "But I'd have killed myself if we turned the ball over when we had a chip shot field goal to win the game."

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