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MOUNT VERNON — There were moments of success.
Flashes of progress and playmaking ability — a long return, a precise pass, an impressive catch, key conversion and a tough tackle. The young Cornell football team just didn’t produce enough consistently.
Jarrett Zibert threw for 240 yards and touchdown passes to four receivers, helping Ripon (Wis.) College gain 443 offensive yards and defeat the Rams, 49-14, in a Midwest Conference football game Saturday at Van Metre Field of Ash Park.
“It’s the growing pains of being a young team,” Cornell Coach Dan Pifer said. “We have to learn and grow from it. We have a bye week, so get some things fixed during this off week and get back to work.
“We’re not a bad football team. I know the scores don’t reflect that. We’re getting better. We just have to make some plays and do it one after another.”
Cornell (1-2, 1-1) had scoring chances but didn’t capitalize. Isaiah Spencer’s 66-yard kickoff return gave the Rams the ball at the Ripon 23 to start their second possession and reached the 6-yard line. The Rams’ next drive included a new set of downs at the Red Hawks’ 26 after a 44-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Modrynski to Tony Gomez. Cornell mustered just 5 more yards.
Neither produced points.
“We were in the red zone three times and got no points,” Pifer said. “It could be 21-21 at half, but it’s not and it’s 28-7.”
The Rams took advantage of good field position and finished a drive, going 51 yards on nine plays. Modrynski completed 3 of 4 passes. Each were third-down conversions. He capped the drive with an 18-yard TD pass to LaQuanta Crawford, who jumped and pulled down a fade in the back-right corner of the end zone. Cornell moved within 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
Modrynski, who is the third Rams quarterback to start in three games, passed for 159 yards. Crawford accounted for 52 yards on three receptions.
“He did some good things,” Pifer said of Modrynski. “We just have to work on some throws.”
Ripon (3-0, 2-0) added a 1-yard TD pass from Zibert to Kaipo Magsayo with 1:30 left in the second quarter for a 28-7 halftime lead.
Zibert connected on TD passes of 16 and 40 yards in the second half, increasing the Red Hawks’ advantage to 42-7.
Cornell running back Joel Lacy entered the game tied for the league lead in touchdowns. He ran for a 9-yard score with 8:12 left, giving the freshman five TDs. The former New London prep has rushed for at least one score in each game this season.
Cornell has a bye week next week and hosts Lake Forest on Oct. 1. The Rams have been hampered by injury, missing two starting offensive linemen. They will try to heal as much as possible and address the mistakes like missed tackles, dropped passes and blown assignments to try to develop consistency.
“It’s game reps,” Pifer said. “Every game you play you’re going to get better. For a lot of these guys it’s only their third game, so they have to keep learning.”
“It’s going to be a process. Eventually, the light is going to turn on and we’re going to be OK.”