Blocked FG Return Gives Cornell The Win in OT
Courtesy: Cornell College Athletics
MOUNT VERNON – Jeffery Bollnow called it a walk-off home run. Most saw it as a 90-yard sprint straight to the end zone.
Bollnow blocked a short field goal attempt, Myron Seabrook picked up the loose football and raced down the Ram sideline for an improbable touchdown in a 35-29 overtime victory over 22nd-ranked Illinois College Saturday at Ash Park Stadium.
Cornell (6-3 overall) clinched its first winning season in 12 years and moved into a tie for third place in the Midwest Conference at 6-2. It was a signature win for coach Vince Brautigam's Rams, who spoiled Illinois College's quest for an undefeated season.
The Blueboys (8-1, 7-1 MWC) hadn't had an opponent come closer than 20 points in their previous eight wins.
"We found a way," Brautigam said. "It was a fantastic game between two very good football teams. It came down to we made one more play than they did. All the credit goes to the coaching staff and players. They bought in and believed.
"Our seniors today put a stamp on their contributions to the program."
Leading 29-21 midway through the fourth quarter, Cornell was on the verge of finishing off the guests in regulation with the ball deep in Illinois College territory. The Blueboys came up with a key fumble recovery and eventually tied it at 29-29 on an 87-yard touchdown drive and two-point conversion.
The Blueboys had the first possession in overtime, and after driving to the Cornell 4, lined up for a 21-yard field goal.
Bollnow – one of 12 Ram seniors playing their final home game – broke through the Blueboys' line, reached out and deflected the kick. The ball bounced off the turf, Seabrook snatched it in the air and the rest was history.
"Bollnow came inside of Kenny (Smith) and laid out beautifully," Brautigam said. "Myron is our scoop and score guy, and it worked to perfection. Myron won the foot race to the end zone."
The Rams and Blueboys battled back and forth all day in an entertaining game that featured 928 total yards. Illinois College led 14-7 after one quarter, the Rams 20-14 at the half. The Blueboys scored on their opening drive of the third quarter to regain the lead at 21-20.
Cornell went back ahead, 26-21, on a Juan Flores 3-yard scoring strike to Justin Cox with 7:41 to go in the third period. Kaleb Whiting booted a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to put the Rams up 29-21.
After Illinois College tied it up, Whiting had a 51-yard field goal attempt miss short in the final seconds of regulation.
The Rams finished with 448 yards of total offense, including 244 on the ground. Sophomore Ethan Thompson led the attack with 122 yards on 18 carries, highlighted by a 35-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. Preston Ritchie scored on a 47-yard run in the opening period and finished with 73 yards on 10 attempts.
Flores was 22-of-36 passing for 204 yards and one touchdown. Senior James Scully had his best day of the season, collecting eight receptions for 109 yards.
The Ram defense limited versatile quarterback Michael Bates to 117 yards on 8-of-23 passing. Seabrook and Smith both had an interception for Cornell, which got a game-high 16 tackles from Geoffrey Miller. Andrew Joseph and Alex Latow totaled 13 and 12 tackles, respectively.
Cecil Brimmage led the Blueboys with 214 rushing yards on 34 carries and three touchdowns. Bates added 132 yards and one score on the ground.
Cornell concludes the season next Saturday, Nov. 16, at Grinnell (2-7, 2-6 MWC). The Pioneers fell 23-0 at league unbeaten St. Norbert.