Football head coach Pete Mangurian has said throughout the season that games boil down to a single play. Despite the box score, Saturday’s win against Cornell proved to be another example of that rule because of a decisive play that swung the momentum definitively in the Lions’ favor.
Last weekend, the wheels fell off for the Light Blue in Boston during the second quarter. The Lions surrendered 21 points to Harvard in just 45 seconds en route to a 69-0 blowout. This week, junior running back Marcorus Garrett provided the spark that allowed the Lions to flip the script against the Big Red.
Down 17-10 with 5:04 remaining in the quarter, Garrett took the handoff and got into the second level quickly, bouncing it to the sideline and beating Cornell’s defense all the way to the end zone.
The 86-yard touchdown run propelled Garrett to 187 rushing yards on Saturday, the best rushing day of his college career.
“We were backed up. Marcorus broke free and didn’t get caught this time,” senior quarterback Sean Brackett said. “It was definitely a huge play, we needed that. We needed to get momentum back on our side. I think that was a great play by Marcorus, great play by the line, and a great call by coach [Jaime] Elizondo.”
Saturday’s game marked Garrett’s fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season, which a Light Blue player hasn’t done since 2001.
“All I can tell you is this, [Garrett] has done every single thing we have asked him to do,” Mangurian said. “His attitude has been absolutely outstanding. He’s not a rah-rah guy—he’s very quiet. But he learns, and he listens, and he tries to get better.”
“That’s the kind of commitment, the kind of work ethic, and the kind of productivity we’re looking for.”
Garrett’s score energized the Lions on both sides of the football, as they went on to dominate the next 10 minutes of play. Defensively, the Lions forced Cornell’s offense off the field with two three-and-outs while the Lions’ offense came away with 17 points on their next three possessions.
Four plays after Garrett’s touchdown, senior defensive lineman Josh Martin sacked Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews and forced a fumble that sophomore defensive lineman Chad Washington recovered at Cornell’s 22-yard line.
On the next play, Brackett found tight end Hamilton Garner, who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
With the defense locked in and the offense in rhythm, the Lions took a commanding lead five minutes into the fourth quarter.
Because of Garrett’s production in the running game, the Big Red’s defense was forced to put more players in the box. Brackett recognized Cornell’s adjustment and signaled freshman wide receiver Chris Connors to go deep.
Without a safety over the top, Connors beat the cornerback and was able to make a diving catch in the end zone. The 27-yard touchdown reception halfway through the fourth quarter put the Lions up 34-17, a lead the defense had no trouble protecting.
“The sequence in the second half is the kind of football team we want to be,” Mangurian said. “You get a turnover, you score. You get another turnover, you score. Do a great job of covering the kickoff after those touchdowns. The defense goes three-and-out. There was momentum play after momentum play that we didn’t let go of, and that’s hard to do.”