MOUNT VERNON — Cody Russell hadn’t been born the last time Coe lost in the longest running college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.
The 18-year-old freshman played a big role in helping the Kohawks extend their win streak against rival Cornell.
Russell plowed his way to three touchdowns in the first quarter and powered Coe to a 42-7 victory over Cornell in the 128th meeting between the two football programs Saturday night at Van Metre Field at Ash Park. The Kohawks won their 19th straight game in the series.
The 5-foot-10, 250-pound fullback tallied 46 rushing yards on nine carries, but gave the Kohawks a commanding 20-0 lead by the 1:58 mark in the first quarter.
“It’s pretty exciting to get out there as a freshman and do all that,” Russell said. “I’ll say I appreciate all my linemen. If I didn’t get any of those blocks, I wouldn’t be able to get to the holes, get in there, put people on the ground or get free.”
Russell didn’t play an offensive snap last week. He did, however, fill in for an injured teammate during a junior varsity contest against Augustana (Ill.) on Sunday. Coe Coach Tyler Staker said he was impressed with the way he performed and decided to plug him in to a short-yardage package. The moved paid dividends.
“He made the most of the plays that he had and we saw some things we really liked,” Staker said. “We started to work him in some short-yardage stuff. He’s tough to bring down.”
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The Kohawks (1-1) set the evening’s tone with the opening drive and scored on each of their first three possessions.
Coe covered 77 yards on 13 plays, needing 5:09 to take a 6-0 lead after the first series. Russell opened some eyes on the final two plays, picking up a first down with a 7-yard gain and capping the drive with a 10-yard score.
Russell continued to make an impact in the first quarter, helping the Kohawks take advantage of good field position. He bowled his way in from the 6 for a 13-0 Coe lead.
“One guy is not going to bring him down,” Staker said. “He did a nice job of yards after contact. There were a few guys who stuck him on the line of scrimmage, but he was able to break a few tackles, fall forward and I thought he rushed it pretty well.”
He added a 1-yard TD run for Coe’s third score. Russell also converted key third and fourth downs in the first half. He was ready to do his job, lowering his shoulder to run through and bounce off defenders.
“I felt pretty confident about it,” Russell said. “I came in and just did my thing.”
Coe’s passing game was effective as well. Quentin White threw for 234 yards on 14 of 19 passing. White connected with his brother, Colton White, five times for 105 yards, including a 32-yard TD in the third.
Quentin White helped set up those goal-line opportunities with big pass plays. He hit Mitch Stopko for a 39-yard gain to set up Russell’s second score and Colton White for a 35-yard gain on the next possession.
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“I thought Quentin did an excellent job of managing the game,” Staker said. “He didn’t force any balls. It helped when we were able to rush the ball and take pressure off of him. He did a really good job of taking what the defense gave him.”
The score was set up by a big 39-yard pass reception from Quentin White to Mitch Stopko, who was wide open rolling out of the backfield.
The Coe defense played better than in last week’s 26-7 loss to the Vikings. The Kohawks flexed their muscles, holding Cornell to just 53 total yards in the first half and producing two key fourth-down stands.
Coe’s biggest stop came early in the second quarter with Cornell taking four shots inside the 5 after first-and-goal at the 1. The Kohawks backed Cornell to the 7, receiving an offsides penalty on a field-goal attempt that moved it to the 3. Cornell elected to go for it and Justin Schwennen ended the threat with a sack of quarterback Blayze Griffis.
“When an offense decides to go for it on fourth down on the goal line, I think it is a statement to be made on one side of the ball or the other,” Coe linebacker Terrence Hall said. “Who’s going to (toughen) up? Who wants to play football?”
Cornell (1-1) produced a scoring drive early in the second half. The Rams needed just three plays to move 61 yards, including a 56-yard TD pass from Griffis to Blake Langhurst. Griffis finished with 134 yards passing and Langhurst accounted for 84 of them.
Coe opens American Rivers Conference play next week against Dubuque at Clark Field, starting at 1 p.m. Cornell is off next week and travels to Midwest Conference foe Beloit on Sept. 22.
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