116 3rd St SE
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MOUNT VERNON — They've got a lot to play for next week.
The Cornell Rams aren't going to win the Midwest Conference football championship. They're not headed to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
But if they beat Ripon at home, they'll cinch a .500 season. That'd be a real nice accomplishment.
'Considering everything this team has gone through, it would define who we are as a group,' said Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam, following the Rams' 41-20 win Saturday afternoon over Grinnell at Ash Park. 'Nitty, gritty, tough. These kids believe in finding a way to win. That's our motto. No matter the circumstances, find a way.'
They found a way to overcome scrappy Grinnell (1-8), scoring four second-half touchdowns to pull away in a game that was tied at the half, 13-13. Cornell (4-5) has won two straight, including a double-overtime thriller last week at Knox that everyone involved said led to an at-times blah performance here.
'We battled back,' said running back Devan Clark, who had 151 yards rushing and two TDs. 'From the last game, going double overtime, we were a little bit sluggish. We finally picked it up in the second half. I'm proud of my guys that we finally got it going. In the future, we've got to have that same mentality throughout the whole game.'
Quarterback James Douglas also ran for two scores for the Rams and threw a touchdown pass. Grinnell fumbled away the second-half kickoff, which led to a 17-yard Douglas TD run.
A shanked punt set up Douglas' 2-yard touchdown for a 27-13 Cornell lead.
'Last week, we were hitting offensively on all cylinders,' Brautigam said. 'With our young quarterback, you're going to find that there are times when maybe he is inconsistent. He threw a pick and coughed the ball up, which hurt us. I think they scored on both of them. But there are going to be times during a game when he does make the right play, the right choice. And he's only going to get better.'
Cornell has had four seasons in a row with a break-even or better record. Brautigam has done a nice job rebuilding this program.
With a new quarterback and a roster of only 47 players, getting to 5-5 would be a big deal. The Midwest Conference concludes its regular season with inter-division play, based on standings in each division.
Cornell placed fourth in the South Division with a 2-3 record. Ripon (4-5 overall) was 3-2 in the North.
'It'd mean a great deal (to win),' Clark said. 'It'd mean our senior class would leave here without a losing season. A lot on the line.'
'It would send our seniors off without a losing record in their four years,' said Cornell defensive back Trever Greene. 'So that's huge. It'd be a good stepping stone for next year. Ending the season with three wins would be huge.'
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