NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale football team's real test of the 2009 pre-season went well as the Bulldogs outscored Union College 36-14 at Yale Bowl and got fine performances on both sides of the ball during the four-quarter scrimmage.
Tom Williams, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football, was very upbeat about what he saw.
"I was happy with all phases of our game today," said Williams, Yale's first-year mentor. "We are right where we need to be. We had 11, 12 and 14-play drives, and that's a good sign for our stamina."
The only thing that Williams didn't like seeing was all the Yale penalties, but it didn't surprise him at all.
"It's not uncommon to see a lot of penalties in a pre-season scrimmage. And many of ours were effort penalties, which are better than mental mistakes."
The Bulldogs worked primarily with two quarterbacks over the first three quarters, sophomore Patrick Witt (Wylie, Texas), who transferred from Nebraska, and junior Brook Hart (State College, Pa.). Witt completed eight of 19 passes for 166 yards and two scores. Hart went four of nine for 59 yards.
"This was a good tune-up for Georgetown. We are still two weeks away from being totally ready, but this was a good day for us all around," said Paul Rice (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), the senior LB and team captain.
Yale's first play from scrimmage was a 36-yard TD run by senior Jordan Farrell (Orland Park, Ill.), who was out last fall with an injury. Farrell took the handoff from Witt, went left and saw no opening, headed toward the right and danced down the sideline past numerous defenders.
"It was a little scary to begin with," said Farrell. "I thought I would be tackled for a three-yard loss but managed to get away."
Sophomore RB Alex Thomas (Ansonia, Conn.) played a big role on Yale's next two scoring possessions. He dove into the end zone from two yards out in the second quarter before dazzling the Dutchmen with a 54-yard catch and run TD. Thomas snared Witt's pass in the flat, broke one tackle and deked another defender before turning on the burners. A Union defensive back dove at his feet at the five-yard line but could not prevent him from reaching the end zone.
"I ran the wrong route on that play," said Thomas, who is starting to get a chance to show his overall athleticism.
Other than a 35-yard pass play from QB Drew Connolly to WR Charles Kaliades that set up Union's only score in the first half (a Justin Gallo three-yard TD grab), the Yale defense made it very tough for the Division III school.
The Bulldog defense came up with three interceptions in the first half. Senior DB Larry Abare (Acton, Mass.) picked a Connolly pass on the visitor's opening possession and returned the ball 19 yards to set up Farrell's TD run.
Sophomore DB Drew Baldwin (Alexandria, Va.) had an interception before junior DB John Pagliaro (Lutherville, Md.) grabbed a deflected pass out of the air on the goal line and brought it out to the 16.
Yale's fourth TD of the day came on a flare from Witt to junior WR Peter Balsam (Orland Park, Ill.). The Eli receiver took the pass at the 16 and slipped over the goal line along the left side.
A pretty, timing pass from sophomore QB Bryan Farris (Derry, N.H.) to freshman WR Chris Smith (Midlothian, Va.) capped the scoring for the Bulldogs.
Junior WR and return man Gio Christodoulou (Miami, Fla.), another speedy Bulldog with many athletic tools, had a chance to show all of his gears. He had a number of impressive kick returns including a 51-yarder on a punt.
Tom Mante (Westford, Mass.), the Elis' All-Ivy kicker, booted a 31-yard FG and two PATs while launching a 57-yard punt.
After the scrimmage, Williams was asked about his plans for the depth chart, especially the battle for the top QB job.
"We had a depth chart (for the players to see) coming into today. Now we re-evaluate it and see where we are. Patrick did a nice job managing the team and moving the ball. Brook did a good job too. I like the competition at that spot."
BULLDOG BITES: Freshman Mordecai Cargill (Cleveland, Ohio) was the No. 2 RB today and had eight carries... Rich Scudellari (Saratoga, Calif.) and Farris both got fourth quarter snaps and looked sharp. Scudellari connected with newcomer TE Jordan Jefferson on passes of 18 and 15 yards... Junior Alex Barnes (Chesterfield, Mo.) split the uprights on a PAT and had a 51-yard punt... A 36-yard reception by junior TE Chris Blohm (San Francisco, Calif.) was another highlight.
Recap filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director