MOUNT VERNON — The last two weeks have been rough for the Cornell College football program.
Inexperience and lack of depth have shown in two straight lopsided losses.
Lake Forest (Ill.) was the latest to exploit the Rams’ shortcomings, amassing 520 total yards in a 55-13 victory Saturday at Ash Park.
Opponents have outscored Cornell, 118-19, the last two games.
“We have to put our work hats on,” Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be older the last few years, and numbers affect us to a degree as far as depth goes, but we’re playing a lot of young kids.”
If you weren’t in your seat early, you may have missed the Foresters jump to a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Alex Pasiewicz returned the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, needing 13 seconds to go end zone to end zone.
Pasiewicz recovered the ensuing kickoff misplayed by the Rams, giving Lake Forest the ball at Cornell’s 22 and setting up Joey Valdivia's 3-yard run. Special teams contributed to the quick deficit.
“I think that’s the first kickoff return I’ve had returned in 25 years,” Brautigam said. “It’s every phase of the game. It’s not one thing.”
Pasiewicz and Valdivia burned Cornell (1-2) throughout the game. Pasiewicz scored four total touchdowns, adding TD catches of 70, 3 and 17 yards. He had a game-high five catches for 113 yards and finished with 268 all-purpose yards.
Valdivia rushed for 165 yards and three TDs. Valdivia bolted for a 59-yard TD on the second play of the second quarter, followed by the 70-yard catch-and-run by Pasiewicz to make it 28-0 with 9:50 left before halftime.
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“The ones I could see we missed tackles,” Brautigam said. “The big plays we were in position to make a play and we didn’t make a tackle.
“(Lake Forest) played well. You have to tip your hat to them.”
Cornell tallied 348 yards, including 170 passing from Daniel Brown. He threw for a pair of touchdowns, hitting Justin Ramirez as time elapsed in the first half and making it 35-6 at the break.
Brown also connected with Riley Bell for a 44-yard score in the third. He also led the Rams with 87 rushing yards.
Brautigam said all 50-plus Rams on the roster have received game time. He said players will return to work Monday to get better. The ones who remain dedicated to improvement will find their way on the field.
“They’re a great group of kids to coach,” Brautigam said. “They do work hard. Unfortunately, in certain areas we don’t have much experience. We don’t use that excuse. We just get in there and play, and we’ll take this as a learning experience.”
The focus turns to a game at Beloit (2-1). The Rams hope to be healthier for next week.
“The positive for me is we didn’t get anybody hurt today,” Brautigam said. “I think we had six kids out last week and had a few out this week. Hopefully, we can be at full strength next week.”
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