MOUNT VERNON — The explanation was simple from Cornell Coach Vince Brautigam.
It didn’t include the Rams being without their starting quarterback after the first series or big plays worked out for their opponent.
“We have no excuses,” Brautigam said. “We ran into a better team today and they beat us.”
Lamont Williams rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns, powering Carroll (Wis.) University to a 31-10 Midwest Conference win over Cornell on Saturday at Ash Park.
The Pioneers (6-2, 5-2) amassed 278 rushing yards and Tyler Schovanec added 126 passing yards. Williams was at the heart of the attack, breaking a 44-yard run to set up a 2-yd TD in the first, scoring a 3-yd TD for a 10-point lead at halftime and a 37-yard TD to open the fourth to seal the Carroll win.
“They’re a good football team,” Brautigam said. “We had a hard time stopping the run. I thought we did some good things defensively. We just gave up a couple too many plays.”
It didn’t help that Carroll’s other score was a 40-yard interception return on the Rams first second-half possession. Starting QB Juan Flores, who suffered a shoulder injury last week in a 35-30 loss to Lake Forest (Ill.), couldn’t compete after the opening series and was in street clothes after halftime.
“He was questionable, but wanted to give it a go,” Brautigam said. “It tells you what type of kid he is, but after the first series he knew after his first throw he couldn’t go.”
Flores completed 1-of-2 passing for 18 yards. Sophomore Kyle Stennes and freshman Keith Graham took snaps during the game. Stennes threw 9 for 18 and 70 yards, while Graham had 33 on four completions. The toughest adjustment at the college level is speed of the game and reading coverages. Saturday was a learning experience.
“The only way they’re going to get seasoned and better is with playing opportunities,” Brautigam said. “You don’t want to see it this way, but it happens.”
The defense made an impact on the scoreboard in favor of the Rams. Geoffrey Miller picked off a pass and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown for what became the final score.
It was Miller’s second interception return for a touchdown, but a shorter one earlier in the drive was negated by a roughing-the-passer penalty.
“It was relieving to finally get it,” Miller said. “Our defense was just playing a tough and hard game, making a lot of stands, but to get one for the defense felt really good.”
The Rams’ bright spot on offense came right before halftime. Cornell took over at Carroll’s 44 with 2:33 left, trailing 10-0.
Kyle Stennes lofted a pass down the middle of the field that Brennan Stine caught for a 34-yard gain with a defender on his back. The next play Stennes connected with Ben Knake for a 10-yard TD, making it 10-7 with 2:04 in the second.
“I just tried to get behind my man,” Knake said. “Kyle Stennes threw a great ball. Perfect pass at the perfect spot that I just came down with it.”
Knake, an all-stater who helped lead Lisbon to a Class A state title last year, has 559 receiving yards on 48 catches, including three TDs as a freshman. He prefers team success over his own.
“It’s always nice but the main thing we’re going for is wins,” Knake said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to win.”
Cornell (3-5, 3-4) plays at Illinois College next Saturday at 1 p.m.