ITHACA, N.Y. — They might not have much of a chance at the Ivy title, but the Quakers showed some promise for the future here in Ithaca.
Much of the production in the 20-7 win against Cornell came from players who will form the core of the team for several years to come.
The biggest question coming into this week, and really all season long, was the play of the quarterbacks. Both sophomore Ryan Glover and junior Nick Robinson were expected to get playing time against the Big Red, but how much, and how well would they play?
For the second straight week, they both showed poise and control in the pocket. Glover in particular played arguably his best game, finishing the day with 131 passing yards and one touchdown on nine of 18 passing. He looked impressive in the pocket, made the correct read on several different option plays, and used his legs to extend multiple plays.
In less time, Robinson displayed even more of his potential than he did against Brown last week. He was accurate, completing 75 percent of his passes, and once again made smart passes that kept the ball moving.
The two-headed backfield of junior running backs Karekin Brooks and Abe Willows looked dynamic as well. While Brooks is clearly the featured option, both saw significant success. Brooks finished the day with 72 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Willows finished with 66 rushing yards and added 16 in the passing game. Willows also had a nearly 40-yard reception that was called back due to a holding penalty.
The Quakers additionally featured some unique formations that Brooks and Willows played vital roles in. In particular, the halfback duo led the end of the Quakers’ first touchdown drive with several direct snaps, including the touchdown run from Brooks itself.
On defense, it was a slew of defensive backs who helped keep Cornell off the board during the second half. Junior cornerback Conor O’Brien led the way with a game-sealing interception to go along with two pass breakups. Junior free safety Jacob Martin almost had an interception of his own just a few plays before, and made a crucial tackle in the open field earlier in the game to force a fourth down. Sophomore linebacker Brian O’Neill dropped back in coverage to make a spectacular pass breakup to save a touchdown.
“We’ve been injured back there, and it’s really been tough sledding for all those kids," coach Ray Priore said. "They’ve really worked hard with Sam [Philipi] out, with Jyron [Walker] out, but those guys are coming of age."
Sure, there were seniors who had solid performances. Senior linebacker Jay Cammon was one of the stars on defense, providing goal-line heroics and breaking up passes. The wide receiver pair of Christian Pearson and Steve Farrell served as dependable targets for Glover and Robinson all game long. And linebacker Nick Miller came charging into the backfield on several occasions to deliver some punishing hits on the quarterback.
But this win was on the juniors and sophomores. And if they can play like they did here against Cornell over the final two weeks, they might just set themselves up for a title run next year.