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Mathews, Cornell overwhelm Yale, 45-6

The SportsXchange

ITHACA, N.Y. - Those NBC Sports Network viewers who tuned into the Yale-Cornell football game expecting to see an aerial display by the Big Red's highly touted junior quarterback, Jeff Mathews, got that and a little bonus.

Freshman running back Luke Hagy rushed for 88 yards and two first-half touchdowns in support of another stellar performance by Mathews as the Big Red rolled to a 45-6 Homecoming victory over Yale on Saturday before a crowd of 15,333 at Schoellkopf Field.

Hagy, a two-time all-state running back from Mt. Lebanon High near Pittsburgh, scored on runs of 11 and four yards in the first half for the Big Red (1-1), which bounced back from a season-opening 34-27 loss at Fordham a week earlier.

"Luke is kind of mature beyond his age," Cornell coach Kent Austin said. "He's a guy who's had a lot of success, named Pittsburgh athlete of the year two years in a row.

"He doesn't get flustered, he's unflappable, and he has to do a lot in our offense. He really performed well."

Mathews was his usual surgical self, completing 29-of-39 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns, two apiece to Luke Tasker (10 catches for 138 yards) and Kurt Ondash (six catches for 61 yards).

It was Mathews' eighth career 300-yard passing day, tying a Cornell record, and fourth in a row.

"We came out and executed, and the defense played great," Mathews said. "We were very efficient in the red zone, and we should be very proud of how we played.

"At the same time, we know we've got to build off this and get better for next week."

Freshman Eric Williams completed 27-of-37 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs (1-1). Austin Reuland had six catches for 79 yards. Grant Wallace had the touchdown catch among his five receptions.

The Big Red amassed 115 yards of offense in the first quarter, but needed huge mistakes by Yale, deep in its own territory, to get its first two touchdowns.

Cornell drove the ball smartly on the game's first possession, marching 53 yards to the Bulldogs' 15-yard line before a penalty and Beau Palin's sack of Mathews put the drive in reverse.

Faced with second-and-26 at the Yale 41, Mathews completed two passes to set up a fourth-and-two, then threw an incomplete pass to Tasker, who was met with a jarring hit by Yale cornerback Colin Bibb.

But on the Bulldogs' first offensive play, safety Andrew Nelson stepped in front of Williams' pass in the left flat and intercepted it while falling to the turf at the Yale 11.

One play later, at the 8:55 mark, Hagy was in the end zone with his first career rushing touchdown.

A bit later, Cameron Sandquist of Yale a punt of the day and Dylan Chayes of Cornell recovered at the 14-yard line. One play later, Mathews hit Tasker in the back left corner of the end zone and it was 14-0 with 3:37 left in the first quarter.

"Obviously, the margin for error against a team with Jeff Mathews on it is so small, and when you give them the ball twice inside your own 15-yard line, it's very hard to win that football game," Yale first-year coach Tony Reno said.

"It's hard to overcome it, and today, we weren't able to."

Following another fourth-down stop, Cornell was on the move again, and this time got the payoff after a sustained march. Hagy capped an eight-play, 62-yard drive with his second touchdown run of the day, from four yards, giving the Big Red a 21-0 lead.

"The offensive line did a great job of picking up blitzes and creating holes, and I just followed the fullback," Hagy said. "They did a lot of the work, and it really helps when you have a quarterback like Jeff and all the receivers we have. It makes it pretty easy."

Williams' second interception of the day, near midfield by cornerback Michael Turner, led to the Big Red's fourth touchdown, a five-yard pass from Mathews to Ondash.

And Cornell wasn't done with its first-half onslaught, as Mathews found Ondash on the goal line from four yards with 1:29 to go, and it was 35-0.

Mathews hit Tasker from 21 yards for the Big Red's final touchdown late in the third quarter, and Yale ended Cornell's bid for its first shutout in 19 years when Williams hit Wallace from seven yards with seven seconds left in the third.

NOTES: Among the former Big Red players in attendance Saturday for Homecoming festivities were Ed Marinaro, former All-American and 1971 Heisman Trophy finalist, and tackle Kevin Boothe, who plays for the New York Giants. ... Shane Savage, a preseason All-American wide receiver for Cornell and All-Ivy selection last year, missed the game because of a leg injury sustained in last week's loss at Fordham. ... Cornell last shut out an opponent on Nov. 6, 1993, a 21-0 defeat of Yale. ... Yale had won the previous two meetings with the Big Red, and leads the all-time series, 44-29-2.

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