CEDAR RAPIDS – Cornell is better. No doubt about that.
But Coe is still better than Cornell. No doubt about that, either.
The Kohawks slugged their Linn County neighbor yet again Saturday afternoon at Clark Field, 42-7, for their unprecented 14th consecutive win in the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River. Coe's advantage in this historic 124-game series keeps growing and growing and growing ...
It's up to 69-51-4.
"We're going to win this game when we're going enough and we're ready," said Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam. "Every year, there are good things that go on. We're done rebuilding, now it's a matter of maturing. I think today you saw some times when we were mature. Then there were other times when we showed our lack of maturity at certain positions."
Coe struggled to beat Midwest Conference member Monmouth last week, while Cornell smashed Lawrence in a Midwest Conference opener. That had a lot of people expecting a good, tight game here.
So much for that. Coe built a 14-0 halftime lead and scored four more touchdowns in the second half.
"It's 14 years," said Coe defensive tackle Mitch Montgomery. "This win wasn't just for us, it was for everyone who has played in this rivalry. It was a good game. I know the score doesn't indicate that. We made mistakes, they made mistakes. We were just able to capitalize more on their mistakes."'
Yeah, like intercepting Cornell quarterback Juan Flores three times and plopping on two Rams fumbles, including one from Flores. Cornerback Antoine Allen-Jackson had all three picks, including a critical one on Cornell's initial second-half possession that he weaved his way down field for a 68-yard touchdown.
Flores holds a plethora of Cornell school passing marks but completed just 13 of 25 for 96 yards. The Rams drove to the Coe 12 on the first possession of the game, but Flores threw into double coverage in the corner of the end zone and was picked by Allen-Jackson.
"'Toine had a huge game," said Montgomery, whose high-impact day included a sack, two and a half tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. "Our key, first of all, was to stop the run. We stopped the run, then we had to make sure we would be able to contain their quarterback. I believe we did that very well. You shut down one thing, then you can focus on another thing. That's what you want. That's what you want as a defense."
Meanwhile, Coe sophomore Josh Rekers' first start as a college quarterback couldn't have gone much better. Playing in place of injured Mark Atwater, Rekers made few mistakes, completing 20 of 28 throws for 301 yards and two touchdowns.
That included a 68-yard bomb in the third quarter to Dominik Lensing and a 43-yarder in the fourth to Alex Christenson. Keaton Juergens actually was his favorite target, catching nine balls for 112.
"Pretty good," said Rekers, from Dike-New Hartford. "I was pretty comfortable at the beginning of the game. I was just taking what the defense was giving us, trying to make plays. Trying to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers, and let our o-line do their jobs and run block for us."
Coe's defense held Cornell to 13 yards in the second quarter and under 100 in the third. The Rams averted the first shutout in this series since 1989 on a 22-yard touchdown run by backup running back Hayden Howard with 20 seconds to go.
"A team looks good if their opponent is not very good, you know?" Coe Coach Steve Staker said. "That's not to say anything (bad) about Lawrence, but that was just the thing we saw on film. We thought we were much better defensively, better tacklers than what I saw on the films. Our defense played very well."
"I tip my hat to Coe, first of all," Brautigam said. "Anytime you lose a game, it's because the other team is better. Certainly extremely disappointed with our first drive and coming away with no points. Extremely disappointed in the drive we had to open the second half. We came away with no points because we made the wrong decision with the football. Who knows? If we score on those two drives as I thought we should have, maybe it's a closer game."