After a tumultuous slate of out-of-conference games to open the season and a 48-7 romping by Football Bowl Subdivision team Air Force on August 31, the Colgate Raiders plunged into the Patriot League season on Saturday, October 5, ready to return to their title-winning ways from only one year ago.
The Raiders took on Lehigh and lost by a touchdown, a disappointing start, but had another chance to get in the win column when they hosted the Bucknell Bison on Saturday, October 12. Colgate dropped that contest 32-14, moving to 0-7 on the season and 0-2 in Patriot League play.
On Saturday, October 19, the Raiders rode almost two hours to Ithaca, New York, desperate for their first win of the season against the Cornell Big Red (1-4) who have struggled in the early stages of their own season. A good week of practice had the Raiders ready for the contest.
“We came out with the most energy in a long time this past Monday and really seemed to lock in more and focus on some of the smaller details. That kicked off a pretty good week of practice which led to the win,” senior captain and offensive lineman Jovaun Woolford said.
Cornell junior kicker Garrett Patla opened the scoring on the first drive of the game, hitting a 39-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Things were starting to look scary for the Raiders when Cornell sophomore safety Eric Stoxstill-Diggs picked off junior quarterback Grant Breneman on the Raiders’ first drive of the game, but the defense answered and stopped Cornell around midfield on the consequent possession.
“The adjustment that was different during the [Cornell] game is that we were playing well enough to overcome our mistakes. In past games, we were not getting [enough] production, so when we made a mistake, it put us behind and we stayed there,” Hunt said.
In the middle of the second quarter, Breneman found senior wide receiver Nick Gill for a ten-yard touchdown to put the Raiders up 7-3.
Senior running back Malik Twyman’s one-yard score doubled the Raider total, but Cornell cut the lead to 14-10 before the end of the half.
Junior quarterback Richie Kenney’s five-yard touchdown toss to junior running back SK Howard put the Big Red up for the last time.
Senior running back Alex Matthews’ one-yard run on the ensuing drive in the third quarter put the Raiders up for good.
The fourth quarter’s only scoring was a Patla field goal; the Raiders defense stymied Cornell on their final drive, forcing a turnover on downs to secure a 21-20 win.
“I hope the team feels a little more confident; winning a game is hard every year, but when it takes a while to get the first, the pressure can mount. I think we need to build off of the energy we played with, but we still need to be better moving forward,” Hunt said.
The victory was their first of the season, but the out-of-conference win will not push the Raiders up in the Patriot League standings.
Colgate sits at the bottom of the conference, and are two games back from the leading Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
The Raiders will aim to carry the momentum to Holy Cross next Saturday, October 26 and pick up their first conference win of the season.
Before closing out the season, the Raiders will see Georgetown, Fordham and Lafayette. The only home game remaining on the schedule is against Fordham; it will be Senior Day on November 9 in Hamilton.