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MOUNT VERNON — Cornell knew that any chance for success against unbeaten Lake Forest (Ill.) would begin and end with stopping the Foresters’ star tailback, Joey Valdivia.
The Rams never got started.
Valdivia ran for 126 yards, four touchdowns and added a 34-yard touchdown grab — all by halftime — as the Foresters routed Cornell, 56-28, in a Midwest Conference football game Saturday at Ash Park.
“He’s just a great runner,” Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam said. “If you don’t tackle him just right, he’s going to run through you. If you make him go side to side, you’ve got an opportunity. But if you let him go downhill, there’s not a whole lot of people that are going to tackle him one on one.”
Valdivia led NCAA Division III with 29 rushing touchdowns last season and entered the game as the Division III leader in all-purpose yards (234.6 yards per game), total points (96) and touchdowns (16), which should make the 5-foot-10, 210-pound native of Grayslake, Ill., a serious candidate for the Gagliardi Trophy — the Division III version of the Heisman Trophy.
Valdivia battered the Cornell defense throughout the first half with a bruising style that effectively shed any would-be frontline tacklers. He recorded touchdown runs of 6, 4, 20 and 7 yards, plus a 34-yard TD catch that helped Lake Forest (6-0, 2-0 Midwest Conference) to a 42-0 halftime lead.
“Defensively we had a lot of opportunities to bring him down early,” said Cornell linebacker Zachary Yankovich, who led the Rams with 12 tackles. “We would hit him, but we just had to wrap up better as a defense. He’s a hard runner. We knew that coming into the game.”
Valdavia now has 1,135 rushing yards this season. He, along with nearly all of the Lake Forest starters, sat out the second half after outgaining the Rams, 424 to 60, in total yardage in the first.
Against the Lake Forest reserves, the Cornell offense found some footing and scored 19 unanswered points.
Tailback Devan Clark recorded a 15-yard TD run, while quarterback James Douglas III tossed a 17-yard TD pass to receiver Blake MacDowell and added an 8-yard TD run in the final frame.
A 2-yard TD pass from Douglas III to receiver Riley Bell with 5:43 left closed the scoring for the Rams (2-4, 0-2).
Douglas III finished with 156 yards passing and 71 on the ground, while Clark ran for 91.
The Rams — losers of three games in a row — host Monmouth next Saturday.
“How we played the second half, we have to come out the first half,” Brautigam said. “We had our chances defensively. They were in fourth down three times in the first half and we didn’t make the play to get off the field. We had an opportunity to get off the field three times and didn’t do that. That’s our fault.”
Lake Forest 56
AT ASH PARK
Lake Forest College 14 28 0 14—56
Chicago 0 0 13 15—28
LFC — Joey Valdivia 6 yd run (Charles Courtney kick)
LFC — Chase Allen 14 yd pass from Jagan Cleary (Courtney kick)
LFC — Valdivia 4 yd run (Courtney kick)
LFC — Valdivia 34 yd pass from Cleary (Courtney kick)
LFC — Valdivia 20 yd run (Courtney kick)
LFC — Valdivia 7 yd run (Courtney kick)
CC — Devan Clark 15 yd run (Aaron Nicoll kick)
CC — Blake MacDowall 17 yd pass from James Douglas (Nicoll kick failed)
CC — Douglas 8 yd run (Douglas pass failed)
LFC — Alex Adams 4 yd run (Courtney kick)
CC — Riley Bell 2 yd pass from Douglas (Douglas rush failed)
LFC — Nick Edlund 21 yd run (Courtney kick)
CC — Nicoll 39 yd field goal
RUSHING — Lake Forest: Joey Valdivia 20-141; Alex Adams 15-63; Jagan Cleary 5-47; Nick Edlund 4-27; Michael Dean 2-18; Chase Allen 1-1; Billy Degnan 2-3. Cornell: Devan Clark 19-92; James Douglas 17-87; Trevhon Porterfield 6-34; Isaak Hahn 5-19; Adam Bond 2-3; Blake MacDowall 1-3.
PASSING — Lake Forest: Jagan Cleary 16-22-0-232; Billy Degnan 5-11-0-67; Jeremy Brown 2-2-0-30. Cornell: James Douglas 15-25-1-156; Isaak Hahn 4-11-1-41.
RECEIVING — Lake Forest: Chase Allen 9-139; Chris Edomwande 7-91; Stanford Ellis 4-35; Trysten Reeder 2-30; Joey Valdivia 1-34. Cornell: Patrick Brown 5-55; Keenan Bryant 5-42; Blake MacDowall 4-61; Riley Bell 4-29; Cheyenne Minot 1-10.
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