Brautigam Picks Up 100th Win as Cornell Strolls on Homecoming
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
MOUNT VERNON, Iowa – The 100th homecoming, the head coach's 100th career win. Not quite 100 points, but way more than 100 yards.
About 100 yards per play.
OK, that last part is a little exaggerated. But the rest was truth when it came to Cornell's 58-24 stroll past Beloit on Saturday afternoon at Ash Park.
"I thought overall we achieved what we wanted to," said Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam. "Getting to 3-0 in the conference, that was the whole focus of today. I thought our tempo early in all three phases of the game was good, up until halftime. The fourth quarter was kind of sloppy, but they've got to learn to play with a lead like that. It's our job to make sure we finish the fourth quarter."
Brautigam has been a program builder at Mount Senario College in Wisconsin, the University of Dubuque and here, so his overall record isn't quite break even. But getting to the century mark in wins, especially with his son, Nick, as part of the team, had to be special.
He got a Gatorade bath from his players in the final minute and a game ball courtesy of defensive coordinator Jay Davis, who has been with him the last 17 years as a player and assistant coach. 'Coach B' also got a neat little glass trophy to honor his milestone.
"Very special day," said Cornell wide receiver Ben Knake.
"It's an honor to be a part of it, honestly," added quarterback Juan Flores. "He's been able to turn a lot of programs around. For us to give him his 100th win on the 100th homecoming is special. From where we were at when I was a freshman, 0-10, to now ..."
Flores didn't have to complete that thought. The Rams are 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the Midwest Conference as they look ahead to a huge game at St. Norbert, last season's league co-champ.
They needed a fourth-quarter rally to topple Monmouth last week but this one came way, way easier. Cornell built a 34-0 halftime lead and steamrolled Beloit (1-4, 1-3) with one big play after another.
For instance, Flores and Knake hooked up for an 82-yard touchdown pitch and catch in the first quarter. It was Flores to Justin Cox for a 68-yard score in the second. Defensive back Kenny Smith had a 39-yard pick six and running back Preston Ritchie an 86-yard TD run in the third.
Cornell had over 600 yards of offense through three quarters, finishing with 628. That's not a school record though the 11.4 yard-per-play average was.
"We had a big win last week and kind of carried that momentum over," said Flores, who completed 15 of 18 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns. "Both sides of the ball executed our gameplan. We were well prepared."
"A lot of kids made great plays," Brautigam said. "I don't even know where to start."
Two running backs (Ritchie and Ethan Thompson) had over 100 yards rushing, with Thompson scoring three times. Four receivers had at least 68 yards in receptions, led by Knake's 94.
"(Going deep) was just really something that happened," Knake said. "We did notice in the films that there were a couple of times they had gotten beat deep, but they've got a good ballclub. We just took advantage of what they gave us."
What Beloit gave the Rams was a lot. Or maybe it's more precise to say what Cornell took was a lot.
"I got an e-mail this morning from a kid who is over in Afghanistan who played for me back in the early '90s at Mount Senario," Brautigam said. "My son printed it off and put it in the locker room. It was about what 'Find A Way' actually means because that is our (team) motto. He said he uses that attitude when he in war leading troops. He was excited for me to get 100 wins, but he was more excited about being part of a football family that he has never forgotten.
"That's what I told them after the game. We are an academic school, but we're starting to play some pretty good football. There is a great family environment here, and I think that makes you more successful as times goes on."