New Hampshire Football Report

Franklin Pierce finishes strong

ITHACA, N.Y. – The defense forced six turnovers, freshman running back Kobie Smith (Leominster, Mass.) rushed for two touchdowns, and junior quarterback Jose Melo (Greenwich, Conn.) threw for two more on Friday night, as the Franklin Pierce University sprint football team closed out its season with a 24-17 win over Cornell at Schoellkopf Field on Friday night.

Senior linebacker Josh Castro (Nashua) had nine tackles (eight solo), intercepted one pass, broke up two others, and recovered a fumble to lead the defense in the Collegiate Sprint Football League contest. Sophomore quarterback Connor Ostrander threw for 160 yards and a score in defeat for Cornell.

Franklin Pierce finished its 2016 season at 4-3, marking the second straight above-.500 finish for the Ravens. Cornell wrapped up its season at 2-5.

After forcing Cornell to go three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, Franklin Pierce took possession at its own 15-yard line and began a prolonged march to the end zone on its first drive of the contest. Turner piled up nine carries for 55 yards on the drive, including a long of 15 yards, accounting for more than half of the 16-play, 85-yard scoring drive, which lasted 8:45. Facing third-and-goal from the Cornell 3-yard line, Melo found senior wide receiver Alex Powell (Swampscott, Mass.) for the touchdown with 4:35 to play in the opening stanza. The point-after attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 6-0.

The points came fast in the second quarter, as Franklin Pierce took an 18-10 lead into the halftime break. First, Cornell put together an eight-play, 70-yard drive which spanned the end of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter. Freshman kicker Ben Finkelstein would cut the deficit in half after the drive stalled out, as he converted a 30-yard field goal.

Franklin Pierce got a 59-yard return from freshman Alex Revere (Boston, Mass.) on the ensuing kickoff to set up a short-field score as the Ravens started their drive from the Cornell 31. After a 3-yard rush by Turner, Melo hit Revere for 28 yards and a score with 11:10 remaining in the first half. After a failed two-point conversion, the Ravens were left with a 12-3 lead.

Cornell fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, but Melo would throw an interception three plays later, and the Big Red took over at their own 35. What followed was a nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive over the next 4:38, as Cornell cut the gap to 12-10. Ostrander hit freshman Will Griffen for 34 yards on the biggest play of the drive, which would ultimately come down to third-and-goal from the 13-yard line. Ostrander connected with junior wideout Ryman Seeley from there, closing the gap to two points with 5:12 to play in the half.

Again, Franklin Pierce answered on the following drive, which went nine plays and 49 yards after a short kickoff. Freshman running back Kobie Smith (Leominster, Mass.) carried the ball seven times for 25 yards on the drive, including a 5-yard touchdown plunge on the third-down play. Again, the point after was blocked, leaving Franklin Pierce with an 18-10 lead.

The third quarter was scoreless, but Franklin Pierce added an insurance score just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter. An interception by senior linebacker Andrew Jean (Irvington, N.J.) set the Ravens up with first-and-goal from the 5. Smith cashed in immediately, taking the ball for a five-yard touchdown rush on the very next play. Again, the two-point conversion failed, and Franklin Pierce took a 24-10 lead.

Cornell closed the gap to 24-17 with 8:26 to play. After a Franklin Pierce fourth-down conversion attempt near midfield failed, Cornell opened its drive across midfield, on the Ravens’ 46. Ostrander hit Seeley for 39 yards on the first play of the drive, then handed off to senior running back Kevin Nathanson for a 4-yard touchdown rush to cap the day’s scoring. The Big Red could get no closer,

Turner was Franklin Pierce’s leading rusher, with 84 yards on 20 carries (4.2 yards per carry), while Smith added two touchdowns, as part of a 17-carry, 51-yard night (3.0 yards per carry). Melo threw for 73 yards and two scores in an 8-for-20 game, which also included one interception. Revere and Smith had three receptions each, with the former going for 45 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Castro filled up his stat line on the night with nine tackles (eight solo), one fumble recovery, one interception and two pass break-ups. Senior defensive back Adam Ebodi (Mission Viejo, Calif.) had both an interception and a fumble recovery as well, while Jean had an interception and junior defensive lineman Demitri Moreno (Alhambra, Calif.) tallied both a fumble recovery and a sack.

For Cornell, Nathanson led the way on the ground with 56 yards on 14 carries (4.0 yards per carry). Ostrander threw for 160 yards and one touchdown, but was also intercepted three times in a 9-for-20 outing. Seeley hauled in four passes for 96 yards and a score.

Defensively, senior linebacker Christopher D’Ambrosio led the Big Red with eight solo tackles.

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