Sports | Football

Football faces Cornell in home finale

Columbia football hosts Cornell in its final home game of the season on Saturday afternoon. 

Junior quarterback Anders Hill will get the start for the Light Blue (2-6, 1-4 Ivy), head coach Bagnoli confirmed this week. Hill was benched in the third quarter of last weekend’s 28-21 road loss to Harvard, with senior quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg returning to the lineup. 

Mornhinweg proceeded to finish 12-for-24 for 83 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to displace Hill as the starter for this weekend’s contest against the Big Red (3-5, 1-4 Ivy). 

Cornell sits in a tie for sixth-place in the Ivy League with Columbia and Dartmouth, having lost its last five games. That stretch has come on the heels of three straight wins to open the season for the Big Red, which has played almost all of its opponents close. 

The only exception came two weeks ago in a 56-7 loss against Princeton, but otherwise, quarterback Dalton Banks has kept Cornell competitive throughout the fall. A first-year starter, Banks ranks second in the conference in both yards per game and touchdowns. 

“He makes you defend the whole field because he’s got really a big arm,” Bagnoli said. “They spread you out all over the place.”

And with a veteran receiving corps, the Lions will face a difficult challenge in the secondary. Cornerbacks Jared Katz and Cameron Roane had mixed afternoons against Harvard, and they’ll now be tasked with stopping Cornell’s two leading receivers in Marshall Deutz and Ben Rogers. 

Meanwhile, the senior linebacking trio of Christian Conway, Gianmarco Rea, and Keith Brady will look to keep running Chris Walker at bay. The sophomore has averaged nearly five yards a carry for a Big Red squad that Bagnoli described as “desperate.”

“It reminds me a lot of Yale coming in after the disaster shown at Penn,” he said. “They’ve been frustrated the last couple games of being close, but not being able to get over the hump.”

The Light Blue lost that matchup with the Bulldogs 31-23, as four first-half turnovers made the difference. And following four more turnovers against Harvard, Bagnoli has been stressing the need for ball security throughout the week of practice. 

“We have had a few more ball security drills—we had two of them, actually,” Bagnoli said. “Hopefully, the message gets across that if we don’t take care of the ball, we give ourselves zero chance to win.”

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Robert K. Kraft Field. Follow our live blog for all of the action. 

daniel.radov@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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