Bulldogs Impress in Preseason Scrimmage vs. Union

John Powers. (photo by Jack Warhola)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Practice is practice and hitting the same color jerseys is not always the best way to evaluate what you have. The Yale Football team finally got to see another color in its pre-season scrimmage against Union at the Yale Bowl and its Class of 1954 Field, and the coaches (not to mention the fans) have plenty of good things to talk about after the Bulldogs outscored the Dutchmen 50-0.

The Eli defense swarmed, blanketed and frustrated Union while Yale's offense clicked on all cylinders.

"We wanted to dominate on defense and shut them out. We wanted to be explosive on offense. We did all of that," said Tom Williams, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. 

Patrick Witt (Wylie, Texas), Yale's junior starting QB, completed seven of nine passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Senior WR Gio Christodoulou (Miami, Fla.) was wide open in the end zone for a 19-yard play and the scrimmage's first score. Five minutes later, Witt connected with freshman WR Cameron Sandquist (Redmond, Wash.), who had a game-high four catches including two TDs, on a 5-yard scoring toss.

"We were crisp," said Witt, who played all but one series of the first quarter. "This was a good tune-up. We got out of it what we wanted."

If an offensive MVP was named for the contest, a few votes would certainly have gone to Christodoulou, the shifty receiver and return man who has a pair of TDs on punt returns in his three varsity seasons. He caught two balls for 25 yards and returned two punts for 68 yards.

The teams played three quarters of regulation football and a fourth that did not include the kicking game. Quarterbacks wore different colored jerseys and drew whistles when defensive players got a hand on them.

Senior QB Brook Hart (State College, Pa.) took advantage of his second series behind center by lofting a pretty pass over the Union defense on a 14-yard TD pass to senior TE Caleb Smith (West Orange, NJ).

Junior Alex Thomas (Ansonia, Conn.) started at RB and ran five times for 18 yards. Sophomore Mordecai Cargill (Cleveland, Ohio) had eight carries and 20 yards, but sophomore Javier Sosa (Miami, Fla.) led all runners with nine for 51.

The Bulldog defense, which held the Dutchmen to one first down over the first two quarters and finished with six sacks, had its share of highlights. Senior DB Marcus Wallace (Germantown, Wis.) picked off a second quarter Drew Connolly pass and raced 29 yards to the Union nine yard line to set up one Yale score. Classmate Chris Stanley (Los Angeles, Calif.), also a DB, blocked a second-quarter punt that went through the end zone for a safety.

"We were flying around today and had a lot of guys on the ball," said senior DT Joe Young (Shrewsbury, Mass.), who had one of the six sacks. "We gelled as a unit and had a lot of guys stepping up. It was good to see how the different pieces fit together."

Yale fans have been asking what they can expect from the class of 2014; the answer was on the field today. WR Deon Randall (San Diego, Calif.), who also had a few carries out of the backfield, had three catches for 47 yards, including a 30-yard connection with Witt in the first quarter.

There was also a pair of rookie quarterbacks making impressive debuts on the Class of 1954 Field. John Whitelaw (Hinsdale, Ill.) completed nine of 13 tosses for 107 yards and one TD, while Henry Furman (Portland, Ore.) connected on four of his five attempts.

The longest (55) pass of the day was thrown by sophomore Dez Duron (Shreveport, La.), who watched as freshman WR Brandis Yarrington (Ann Arbor, Mich.) ran under the arching toss down the right sideline.

The Elis' special teams also had a big day. After the blocked punt, sophomore WR Chris Smith (Midlothian, Va.), who also had two catches, grabbed the kickoff and scampered 62 yards for a TD. He had a 30-yard kick return to start the game.

Yale played with intensity and had plenty of vocal support on the sideline. The most vocal may have been captain Tom McCarthy (Chester, N.J.), who sat out the scrimmage with a banged up leg.

"We are where we hoped we would be. The experienced guys are playing like experienced players," said Williams. "We've increased the level of competitiveness and competency."

The Bulldogs open the regular season at home against Georgetown on Sept. 18 at noon. Union opens a week from today at Ithaca, a few miles from the Cornell campus where Yale opens Ivy League play on Sept. 25.

Bulldog Bites: Sophomore QB Derek Russell (Newton, Mass.) completed two of five passes while classmate Dez Duron connected on his one attempt… Six different Yale QBs got snaps today… Four RBs carried the ball… Cameron Sandquist  finished with four catches for 29 yards… TE Keith Coty (La Mirada, Calif.) had three catches for 40 yards… Senior H-B Shane Bannon (2 catches) made a crushing block and caught a pass on the same play. 

Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director