MOUNT VERNON — This was closer. It had to be.
A 70-point romp like last year wasn’t going to happen again. A 34-14 win Saturday afternoon was Coe’s 13th in a row over Cornell in college football’s oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River.
About as routine a victory as you could get, though you left with the impression the gap between these neighbors has closed at least a little.
“The days of Cornell hoping and praying and wishing to win this game are no longer,” said Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam. “I tell people we’ll win this game when we’re good enough. I really think we’re getting better as we go (along) every year. We’re going to win this game eventually to make it a rivalry again.”
It’s still a rivalry, though this game seems to mean a little more to Cornell at the moment. That’s natural given Coe has assumed a 67-51-4 series edge.
The game was played in Week 2 because Cornell left the Iowa Conference for the Midwest Conference.
“I thought Cornell came to play. Give them all the credit in the world,” said Coe Coach Steve Staker. “I thought they played hard, they got after it, they gave our offense fits. When I look at the size up front, our guys were definitely bigger, but they were scrappers … I’d be disappointed if they don’t do well in the Midwest Conference, the way they played today.”
You still never sensed Coe (2-0) ever was in serious danger of losing. A Gage Mohs 5-yard run and 17-yard pass from Jared McNutt to Jacob Workman gave the Kohawks a 14-0 lead after a quarter.
Cornell (1-1) got within 14-7 early in the second on a 20-yard TD pass from Juan Flores to Justin Cox, but Coe drove late in the half for a TD that put it out of reach: McNutt hitting Workman in the flat from 5 yards out with two seconds left.
“We made some big plays there,” said McNutt, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 198 yards. “Our receivers made some big plays across the middle. That was big for momentum going into the half.”
Coe scored twice more in the third: another Mohs touchdown and 8-yard scoring run by freshman QB Mark Atwater. Flores and Cox connected on a 10-yard TD pass midway through the fourth.
“Overall, it was a roller-coaster ride,” said Mohs, part of a 233-yard rushing day for Coe. “We had our ups and downs. We’ve got to try to make the downs not so steep.”
“I don’t think we played our best game. I really don’t,” said Staker, whose team smacked Midwest Conference preseason favorite Monmouth in its opener last week, 33-6. “I don’t think we improved from last week. But is that our fault, or is that because Cornell came to play?”
Flores completed 30 of 57 passes for 358 yards, with Cox, Ra’Shad Green and James Scully making seven catches each.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win today. Period,” Brautigam said. “We played one senior today, but we’re not going to use youth and inexperience as an excuse. We are as good as anyone we play, as long as we play within ourselves.”
Here is the game boxscore, courtesy of Cornell: