Not even the rain could dampen the spirits of the Chestnut Hill College community as they came out in large numbers to support the sprint football team in their home opening win over the Cornell Bears, 29-24.
After failing to score at all in week one against the defending Collegiate Sprint Football League champion, Army-West Point, on their own turf, the Griffins returned home to the friendly confines of Plymouth-Whitemarsh Football Stadium to take on another opponent they had never faced before in Cornell.
CHC, now 1-1 on the season, came out of the gate strong. After a quick three and out on their first drive, the Griffins forced a fumble on a Cornell punt return. They got the ball back at about midfield and on just their second possession of the game, freshman quarterback Michael Marino capped off a nine-play drive with a two-yard run into the end zone. The Griffins would score again on the leg of freshman kicker Dante Fuchs, to end the first quarter up 10-0.
The Griffins opened the scoring in the second quarter as well after Marino tossed his first touchdown pass from 16 yards out to Lew Roman ’20. This gave CHC their largest lead of the game, 16-0.
Cornell struck back though, thanks to touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to bring the game to 16-14 entering the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Cornell actually had a chance to take their first lead of the game in the fourth, but a field goal attempt from Big Red’s kicker was blocked by Raeveon Floyd-Bennett ’19, giving Chestnut Hill the ball just outside Cornell’s red zone. The Griffins needed just two plays and eight seconds to finish the job as Marino threw his second touchdown of the game, this time to Reginald Robinson Jr. ’19.
With CHC up by nine, the Bears responded by going 99 yards for a score of their own thanks to a 69-yard rush from their running back. Penalties killed Chestnut Hill on their next drive as they were unable to get out of their side of the field. This gave Cornell the opportunity to take the lead on their next possession, when they scored a field goal to put them up 24-23.
Trailing for the first time in the game and with just under six minutes left on the clock, this is where CHC’s meddle and determination kicked into gear. In front of their fans, families and the entire rooting scarlet and gold community, the battle-tested Griffins didn’t let the deficit phase them as they capitalized on a 23-yard kickoff return by Sef Penson ’20. Thirty-three seconds later after two 25+ yard passes to Robinson Jr., Marino had scored his fourth touchdown (three passing, one rushing) of the game giving CHC the lead, which they would not relinquish.
“We had a very fun night on Friday night and were very fortunate to earn a victory over an outstanding opponent in Cornell,” said Head Sprint Football Coach, Mike Pearson, after the game. “The players did a great job playing together as a team and that is what helped us to be successful. We thank all of the fans from the Chestnut Hill College community who came out in the rain on Friday night for the game.”
Chestnut Hill College heads to Post University this weekend for their next game and doing so in defense of the CACC Bowl, which they won in its inaugural event last year. After that, it’s a tough three-game stretch on the road against Navy, Penn and Franklin Pierce before closing out the season at home against Mansfield University on November 5th.
For more information on sprint football and all of the College’s athletics, please visit our website.
Marilee Gallagher ’14