Sprint Football Cruises to 41-16 Win at Cornell

Junior Erik Houston

Junior Erik Houston

Oct. 14, 2011


ITHACA, N.Y. – Army sprint football traveled to Ithaca with a chip on its shoulder on Friday night, having its lone loss of the 2010 season fresh in its mind. Despite a slow start, the Black Knights exacted their revenge over the Big Red with a 41-16 victory at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field.

Army improved to 3-1 overall, including 3-0 in College Sprint Football League contests, while the Big Red fell to 2-2, having only played CSFL opponents.

The Black Knights fell behind early as Cornell impacted the scoreboard on their first two drives of the game. The Big Red’s John Rodriguez connected on a 29-yard field goal attempt on their first drive, followed by a Brendan Miller passing to Spenser Gruenenfelder for a 37-yard touchdown after the Black Knights turned it over on downs.

Down 10-0 with under two minutes to play in the first quarter, senior Ben Johnson returned a Cornell kickoff 68 yards to the Big Red 13-yard line, setting up junior quarterback Javier Sustaita to rush in Army’s first touchdown.

The Black Knights took a lead they would never relinquish at the 5:12 mark in the second quarter. Army stuffed Cornell deep in their own territory, forcing the Big Red to punt. Freshman Evan Leake returned the kick to the Cornell 33-yard line, setting up the Black Knights to use short run gains to punch in a score by junior Marquis Morris. Junior Kevin Scruggs connected on the extra point, putting Army up 14-10 at the half.

Army opened the second half with a five-minute, 12-play, 58-yard scoring drive capped by Sustaita finding sophomore Tom Jeffers in the end zone for the first of two touchdowns between the pair.

With Army ahead 21-10, the Big Red responded on their very next possession, passing their way down the field for nine plays and 62 yards as Miller connected with Timothy Bruhn for a 23-yard score. Cornell’s two-point conversion attempt failed, holding Army’s lead at 21-16.

The Black Knights scored on their next possession as Sustaita found a familiar friend in junior wide receiver Cody Nyp for a 33-yard touchdown. The score was Nyp’s team-best 10th of the season, following last week’s five-touchdown performance at Princeton. After fumbling the extra-point attempt, Army and Cornell ended the third quarter with the Black Knights owning a 27-16 advantage.

Army added two insurance touchdowns in the final stanza, including another Sustaita rushing score and Jeffers’ second receiving TD, while keeping Cornell off the scoreboard.

The Black Knights outgained the Big Red in total yards 481-347, led by Morris’ game-high 70 rushing yards and Sustaita’s 277-yard, three-touchdown passing performance. Jeffers led all receivers with nine catches for 136 yards.

The Army defense was highlighted by junior Erik Houston who registered three sacks and a team-high 11 tackles. Classmate Rob Reckner tacked on eight tackles and one sack.

"We turned it on in the second half," said Army head coach Lt. Col. Mark West. "I was pleased with our running game which eventually opened up our passing game.

"Despite giving up a couple of long touchdown passes, our defense stayed focused and kept up the pressure. Our run defense was outstanding and we made some key stops in critical situations. 

"On offense, so many people contributed. Tim Meier had the game of his life running, catching and blocking. He even had two returns on special teams. On defense, Erik Houston was rock solid with both run defense and the pass rush."

Army improved to 53-16 all-time against Cornell, with the 53 wins tying Princeton as the Black Knights' most-beaten opponents.

The Black Knights return home to Shea Stadium for their final three games of the season, beginning next Friday with a 7 p.m. showdown against first-time CSFL foe Post.  

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