Cornell’s football team scored five rushing touchdowns and caused four turnovers in Saturday’s 35-24 Homecoming victory over Midwest Conference foe Lawrence at Van Metre Field at Ash Park.
Senior cornerback Demarius Pittman came away with Cornell’s third interception of the game in the final minute, stamping the Rams’ eighth consecutive series win over Lawrence in a contest they never trailed.
Freshman running back Tom Martushev made the most of his opportunities Saturday, rushing for his first three collegiate touchdowns after having carried the ball just four times in the previous four games. Martushev netted 53 yards on 10 rushes, scoring on runs of 1, 9 and 1 yard.
Cornell’s effective ground game generated 191 total yards, including a game-high 85 from senior Peni Waqairatu who averaged 7.7 yards on 11 handoffs. Eight different Rams ran the ball, with quarterback Isaak Hahn and Jordan Braud each contributing one rushing TD.
The Rams held their own against the MWC’s No. 1 passing attack, forcing Lawrence quarterback D’Andre Weaver into 17 incompletions. The Vikings passed 39 times for 239 passing yards, 16 below their season average. Thomas Horne, Sam Adams and Pittman each had an interception for the Rams.
Cornell fed off the Homecoming crowd and jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Martushev’s first TD was set up by a botched Lawrence punt return that Trey Birdsong recovered at the Lawrence 4. Cornell drove 75 yards on its next offensive series, capped by Braud’s 6-yard scoring run.
The Vikings climbed back in the game with 17 second-quarter points and Cornell took a 21-17 lead into halftime. The Rams went back to Martushev for two unanswered touchdowns in the second half, the final putting Cornell comfortably ahead at 35-17 with 14:57 remaining in the contest.v
Birdsong had another dynamic offensive game with 165 all-purpose yards, highlighted by a season-long 71-yard pass reception. Hahn was 5-of-10 passing for 127 yards. Tight end Mason Davis had two receptions for 30 yards, putting him over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his career.
Senior linebacker Colden Clark led Cornell’s defense with eight tackles. Ben Brassard and Horne both recorded 2.0 tackles for loss. Adams denied Lawrence a scoring chance early in the fourth quarter with a key interception in the end zone on a first-and-goal play.
The Rams are back home Saturday, Oct. 16, to face unbeaten Chicago (4-0 overall, 3-0 MWC) for a 1 p.m. kickoff.