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Crucial Game at Columbia Saturday

Chris Smith. (photo by Jack Warhola)
Chris Smith. (photo by Jack Warhola)

Last of 3 Straight Yale Road Games


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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale football team (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) needs a win this Saturday to remain in contention for the Ivy League prize. The Bulldogs, coming off a league road loss last week that knocked them from the unbeatens, head to Columbia (0-6, 0-3) for a noon kickoff at Wien Stadium that airs live on the YES Network (Chris Shearn, Ross Tucker, Jack Ford '72) and on WELI (960 AM) Radio.

Yale has won eight straight and holds a 67-18-2 lead over Columbia, its most commanding advantage over any league team. The Blue is 32-9-0 on the road and 35-9-2 at home against the Light Blue.

The numbers say there are similarities on one side and more separation on the other. Both defenses, allowing more than 391 yards per game, look to prove they are better than the stats show. Yale's offense has averaged better than 100 yards and nine points more than Columbia.

RB Alex Thomas (Ansonia, Conn.) rushed for 204 yards and scored a TD but it wasn't enough to get Yale a win at Penn in a 37-25 decision. The Bulldogs had a 20-10 advantage heading into the fourth quarter but gave up four scores to fall for the first time in Ivy play. WR Chris Smith (Midlothian, Va.) caught six passes for 148 yards and two TDs while accumulating a game-high 202 all-purpose yards. Injuries prevented both Thomas and Smith from finishing the game. QB Patrick Witt (Wylie, Texas) completed 15 of 29 throws for 258 yards a pair of scores. LB Will McHale (Greenwich, Conn.) had a game-best 11 solos and 13 overall tackles. The Quakers, who won their 18th straight league game, totaled 528 yards including 277 on the ground.

A week after nearly knocking off Penn at home, Columbia had a rough going on the road. Dartmouth RB Nick Schwieger rushed for 157 yards and three scores in a 37-0 win at Memorial Field. AJ Maddox led the Lions with six solo tackles.

Yale held off a second-half Columbia rally to win 31-28 last year at the Bowl. The Blue built a 31-7 lead in the first 30 minutes thanks to three touchdown passes from QB Patrick Witt, including the first two career TDs for WR Cameron Sandquist. The Yale defense forced three fumbles, picked off two passes, and came up with a big stop on Columbia's final drive of the day to deny the hard-charging Lions after they scored 21 unanswered points in the second half.

The Lions did not allow Yale to complete a pass in a 1954 game but still lost 13-7... Columbia blanked a Yale team in 1961 (11-0) that was coming off an undefeated campaign. It was the fourth and last shutout of the Bulldogs by the Lions... Columbia QB Marty Domres, a future NFL QB, threw for 326 yards in 1966 for the Lions in a losing (44-21) effort... Yale QB Pete Doherty '67 connected on a school-record five TD passes in 1966 (44-21 Yale win)... Yale and NFL great Dick Jauron '73 scampered 87 yards for the deciding score in a 28-14 win over Columbia in 1972... Ryan LoProto '02 scored on two interceptions, including one from 67 yards, as Yale won 41-0 in 2000.

The Yale football team had not recorded a safety since 2007 when Lafayette misfired a punt snap that ended up two points for the Blue. The Elis got a two-pointer for the second straight week when Penn took a knee in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Yale didn't force either safety but still got credit for two-pointers on consecutive Saturdays.

Yale has sacked QBs eight times this fall, one more than opposing defenses have gotten to Patrick Witt. Senior Yale DT Jake Stoller (Shaker Heights, Ohio) leads the team with four and 33 lost yards. The only other teammate with more than one is senior DE Cliff Foreman (Washington, D.C.) with two.

Junior LB Will McHale had his busiest day as a Bulldog with 11 solos and 13 overall stops at Penn. He is fifth in the Ivy League with 9.2 tackles per game.

Penn and Harvard stand as the league unbeatens with the Ivy stretch run under way. Brown and Yale are hanging on with hopes of the Quakers and Crimson falling soon, while Princeton and Dartmouth look to avoid elimination from the title chase. Harvard rolled over Princeton 56-39 last week as Brown was beating Cornell 35-24.

Penn is at Brown (12:30) while Princeton hosts Cornell 30 minutes later… Harvard hosts Dartmouth in a 6 pm game Saturday.

Junior WR Chris Smith (Midlothian, Va.) has distinguished himself as one of the top receivers ever in Yale football. He is the only Eli to have three straight 100-yard games, while his 322 yards over the last two and 422 over the three are both Yale records. His four 100-yard games are the second most in the history of the program. Billy Brown '02 had all five of his in 2001, but Smith is the only Bulldog receiver to have a TD in every game he has gone triple digits. Last week at Penn, he had a game-high 202 all-purpose yards and while scoring twice on pass plays.  His six catches last Saturday gave him 90 for his career, which is seventh at Yale. On Oct. 15 he earned the College Football Performance Awards National FCS Wide Receiver of the Week Honor with a career-high seven catches for 174 yards and one score. He also returned kickoffs for another 107 yards. He is the only Ivy player with four 100-yard receiving days this fall. Smith, the first player in Ivy history to run back a pair of kickoffs for TDs in the same game (last year at Brown, span of 2:23), ranks second in Yale career KOR yards with 1,355, which is 56 yards shy of Robert Carr '05. His 732 yards in 2010 are a single-season record. Smith is also the only Yale player with two career kickoff returns for TDs.

Smith's 2011 Numbers
111.4 ypg (1st Ivy, 5th FCS)
189.8 AP ypg (1st Ivy, 4th FCS)
5.2 rpg (3rd Ivy)
174 receiving yards vs. Lafayette (most in Ivy 2011)
163 KOR yards vs. Georgetown (most in Ivy 2011)
6 TDs

Smith's Career
90 catches (7th)
1,242 receiving yards (10th)
8 TDs (2 from top 10)
1,355 KOR yards (2nd)

Senior QB Patrick Witt (Wylie, Texas), a two-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week this season, is now Yale's career leader with 463 completions. He was a 2010 second-team All-Ivy selection who led the league in passing yards (2,216), yards/game (246.2), completions (212) and attempts (351) and was the only QB to complete more than 60% of his passes (60.4%). Witt, the largest starting signal caller in the Ivy League, was seventh in the FCS in completions/game (23.56) and 15th nationally in passing yards/game (246.22) last year. Elected to the team's Leadership Council, Witt became the first transfer (Nebraska) student at Yale to start immediately at QB since World War II (when transfers were common). He is also an outstanding student (3.91 GPA) who has written for the Yale Daily News, is a member of the Intercultural Affairs Council and has done some prison ministry work. Witt, Yale's candidate for National Football Foundation & Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete honors and the Campbell Trophy, has been endorsed by his school as a 2011 Rhodes Scholar candidate and a Mitchell Scholarship candidate. He also won the Francis Gordon Brown Prize, one of the school's highest undergraduate accolades, awarded to the student in the junior class in Yale College who most closely approaches the standards of intellectual ability, high manhood, capacity for leadership and service to the University set by Francis Gordon Brown, who captained Yale Football's "Team of the Century" in 1900.

Witt's Yale Career Numbers
463 completions (1st)
785 attempts (2nd)
31 TDs (4th)
5,042 yards (2nd)

As expected, senior captain Jordan Haynes (Folsom, Calif.) has been all over the field this year and is third among Ivy players with 9.3 tackles per game. Last year he led (102) the Elis and was second among Ivy players in tackles from his linebacker position. The 2010 first-team All-Ivy and All-New England pick represented the West as a National Football Foundation High School Scholar-Athlete. The political science and international studies major is the first Yale captain from the Golden State since Thorne Shugart (Los Angeles) led the 1954 Bulldogs.

Senior WR Gio Christodoulou (Miami, Fla.) is Yale's career punt return yardage leader with 831, which is also top among active FCS players. He was the Oct. 10 Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week after returning four punts for 106 yards in the win over Dartmouth. He currently leads the Ivies with a 14.1 average, while his 106 return yards vs. Dartmouth are the most for an Ivy player this fall. Christodoulou is in the mix of talented receivers getting snaps but only has two catches this fall after having 38 for a team-best 563 yards last fall. He came back to Yale this fall using a medical hardship waiver from 2009. He also has 23 kickoff returns for 553 yards (shy of 10th on career list).

Alex Thomas (Ansonia, Conn.), nicknamed "Train," became one of five players in the history of Yale football to run for more than 200 yards in a game. His career-high 204 (best day for a Yalie since Mike McLeod, 276 vs. Lehigh, 2007) yards on 30 runs against Penn was the first time a RB has run for more than 200 against the Quakers since 1997. It was almost the most yards by an Ivy back this season. Yale's active career rushing leader with 1,594 yards and seven 100-yard games, Thomas is also Yale's active career receiving leader (49) among the RBs. His 47-yard run at Cornell in 2010 was the longest run by a Bulldog last fall, while his 74-yard TD scamper vs. Dartmouth is the longest this season in the league. Thomas, a former Ansonia High School star, is the most prolific (8,279 yards, 114 TDs) runner in Connecticut High School history. The nickname stems from his "train" tattoo, a word based on scripture verses that refer to training both physically and spiritually.

Deon Randall (San Diego, Calif.) is listed as a RB on the Yale roster and a WR on the depth chart, but you could see him lining up at any skill spot. He is second on the team with 26 catches while his 297 yards are second best.
Senior FS Geoff Dunham (Dallas, Texas) picked off his third career pass last Saturday. Dunham, who wears the same number (11) and has the same body type as starting QB Patrick Witt, is third on the squad with 34 solos and 42 overall tackles. One of the largest DBs in the Ivy League at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, he started every game last year and was third on the team with 31 solo tackles and 47 overall. His best day was 7-2-9 vs. Penn in 2010, and he scored the first TD of his football career on a fumble return against Princeton. He also had 7-2-9 against Cornell this fall. A biomedical  engineering major, Dunham interned in cancer research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2007 and 2008 and spent some of a summer at Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., doing the same thing. He stayed on the Yale campus last summer to take an organic chemistry class.

DE Austin Pulsipher (Temecula, Calif.) has accomplished more than the average college senior. After playing on the 2006 JV team, he spent two full years (2007, 2008) in greater Taipei, Taiwan on a Mormon mission where he became fluent in Mandarin Chinese and served in many leadership roles. Pulsipher, whose father played football at BYU, organized and taught a drug rehabilitation program while managing the finances of over 150 missionaries. He is also the only married member of the Yale football team; he arrived a few days late for football this summer because of the wedding (Aug. 13th in Newport Beach, Calif.). Sebastian Swett '09 was one of the groomsmen and the honeymoon was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Pulsipher, 23, the oldest player on the roster, is looking for his second varsity letter this fall. He is the only Bulldog with an Ivy League Championship (2006) ring.

The left side of the offensive line includes freshman T Ben Carbery (Oak Park, Ill., 6-5, 275) and G Colin Kruger (Sarasota, Fla., 6-3, 300). G Gabe Fernandez (Honolulu, HI, 6-0, 273) and T Roy Collins (Carbondale, Ill., 6-5, 260) are on the right. John Oppenheimer (Menlo Park, Calif., 6-0, 265) played DT as a freshman last fall before switching to center in the spring.

They don't want their names called on the PA system on game days, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve recognition. Here are some notes about Yale's starting five offensive trench guys. LG Colin Kruger, who might be the strongest guy on the team, had had offers to play at other FCS schools including Stanford… RG Gabe Fernandez, a mechanical engineering major who transferred from UCLA after his first year, was a very good soccer player in high school. His senior year's soccer team won the DII state title before he gained 30 to 40 pounds for football. His brother played offensive guard at Harvard… C John Oppenheimer, who moved over from the defense last spring, played both sides of the line in high school. His father, Peter Oppenheimer, is Apple's senior vice president and Chief Financial Officer… RT Roy Collins, who was a prep star at Choate Rosemary Hall, came to Yale as a TE. He was in the New Haven chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. His first cousin, Gerome Sapp, played at Notre Dame and then with the Colts and the Ravens (2003-2007). His mother's cousin, Burgess Owens, played at the University of Miami and with the Jets and Raiders (1973-1982)… LT Ben Carbery captained his high school's scholastic bowl team at the national academic quiz tournament.

Junior PK Philippe Panico (pronounced pa-NEE-ko) connected on a 35-yard FG last week and  booted one kickoff through the end zone for a touch back. He is 5-for-8 on field goals, including a career-long, 39-yarder against the Hoyas and the Big Green, and is 16-for-20 on PATs. The Boston native connected on 17 of 18 PATs and six of 14 field goals in his first year of varsity kicking in 2010. His three-pointer with no time left at Dartmouth was the game-winner, while his 36-yard boot in the fourth quarter at Brown gave the Elis a three-point win. Panico, who had a 47-yard FG in the 2011 pre-season scrimmage, also swings a golf club well, playing for the Yale team as a freshman and leading his foursome to the lowest score at Yale Football Association Golf Outing in August. He had his photo taken with 2011 U.S. Open Champion Rory Mcllroy when the Yale team was at this year's New Haven Open tennis tournament.

Senior DT Reed Spiller, nicknamed "Speed Riller" because he so fast for a 290-pounder, works with a program called Ready, Set, Launch, which helps underprivileged kids and guides them on the college application process… Alex Thomas (Ansonia, Conn.) and Ansonia native John Coughlin (Yale Football Office) have visited the Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley's Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse in Ansonia to help kids learn the importance of eating healthy and staying fit. They have also visited schools in the valley... Senior CB Drew Baldwin (Alexandria, Va.), co-chair of the Yale Black Men's Union Community Outreach Committee, is in his fourth year of outreach work. Baldwin is responsible for creating the lesson plans and the calendar of events, working to promote personal growth and development through educational activities. Classmate Jordan Haynes works closely with Baldwin on the project… Senior LB Nick Schneider (Cincinnati, OH) was one of seven friends at Yale's Saybrook College who founded ReadySetLaunch, a non-profit consulting organization that provides one-on-one college tutoring for underprivileged students. Schneider serves as director of external relations and manages relationships with potential donors in the community. His first year, he helped raise $50,000 in the Chase Community Giving Challenge.

Here are the awards handed out to Yale players this fall:

Ivy League Offensive Player of Week
9/17    QB Patrick Witt (co)
9/24    QB Patrick Witt
9/17    QB Patrick Witt
9/24    QB Patrick Witt
10/8    RB Alex Thomas, DT Jake Stoller, PR Gio Christodoulou
10/15    WR Chris Smith (National WR of the Week)
10/22    WR Chris Smith, QB Patrick Witt, RB Alex Thomas

Seven freshmen have seen action this season. P Kyle Cazzetta (Slate Hill, N.Y.), OL Ben Carberry (Oak Park, Ill.) and William Chism (Ridgeland, Mississippi), DE EJ Conway (Luthersville, Md.), DB Nick LaTesta (Wood Ridge, N.J.), RB Wynston Bouknight (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and LB Tyler Manu (Meridian, Idaho). Thirty-one members of Yale's Class of 2015 joined the Bulldogs this summer. The newcomers, representing 15 different states, include 15 defensive players, 16 on offense and a number who have played on both sides during their high school careers. The offensive linemen and defensive backs (6 each) outnumber any other position recruited in this class. The Class of 2015 is spread evenly across the U.S. with California (4) having the most. Connecticut has three, which does not include the Elis who attended Choate Rosemary Hall after growing up outside the Nutmeg State.

Yale finished 1-2 against Patriot League opponents this fall, beating Georgetown (6-2) and falling at Lehigh (6-1) and Lafayette (3-4). Those three teams are a combined 15-7 this fall.

There are 18 seniors listed among the players on the offense/defense on the two-deep depth chart. Thirteen juniors and sophomores are included with just a pair of newcomers. This does not include special teams.

After three straight weeks on the road, the Elis are back at the Bowl to host a hot Brown squad in a noon game that airs live on the YES Network.

Yale is 0-3 on the road and has not gone winless in a fall since the 1986 team went 0-4… Patrick Witt ranks third in Ivies with 229 passing yards per game… Chris Smith tops league players with 7.2 points per game… Yale center John Oppenheimer (Menlo Park, Calif.) is still tied for the Ivy lead with two fumble recoveries, both of which happened after Yale passes were intercepted on consecutive weeks… Yale's 25.8 points per game are tied for second in the league.

Two former Bulldogs are coaching in the NFL this season. Dick Jauron, who has spent 33 years in the NFL, playing and coaching, is the new defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2-3). Last year he coached the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive backs. Jauron was the 2001 AP Coach of the Year with the Chicago Bears and his most recent head coaching gig was at Buffalo. Pat Graham '01, a former Yale tight end and defensive lineman, is an assistant coach for the 5-1 New England Patriots. Graham, a Waterbury, Conn., native, was a member of Yale's 1999 Ivy title team.

For the 14th consecutive season, all 10 Yale Football games can be heard live on New Haven's News/Talk 960 WELI-AM and free online at Ron Vaccaro '04 (play-by-play) and Carm Cozza (color) have the call, which can be heard on AM radio throughout Connecticut and across Long Island Sound, for their seventh season together. WELI's broadcasts can now also be accessed for free via the "iheartradio" application available on most "smart phones". It can be downloaded either by typing into your phone's browser or by typing "iheartradio" in the app search field on your phone and is free of charge.

Former Yale TE Alex Faherty '05 joins Vaccaro and Cozza in the radio booth this Saturday to help commentate on the third quarter of the Yale-Columbia game.

There was a time not too long ago that you could find a half dozen Yale football players who were also varsity baseball players. There might also be six competing in track & field, a few playing lacrosse and a guy or two rowing for the heavyweight program. For many reasons, those days are long gone. The current Yale football roster includes just one player, freshman L.J. Hunt (Stratford, Conn.), who is on another team roster. Hunt, a DB who has seen JV action this fall, was the captain of the St. Josephs lacrosse team and will play for Eli head coach Andy Shay.

Dartmouth owns the most Ivy League titles since league play officially began in 1956. Yale trails Penn by one for second, one championship in front of Harvard.
            No  Team                Last Title
            17   Dartmouth        1996
            15   Penn                 2010
            14   Yale                  2006
            13   Harvard            2008
             9    Princeton          2006
             4    Brown              2008
             3    Cornell             1990
             1    Columbia         1961

Tom Williams, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football, and some of his players are at the world famous Mory's (306 York Street) every Tuesday (Sept. 13 through Nov. 15) at 2 p.m. for the Dick Galiette Yale Football Press Conference. This event is limited to media only. Please contact Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn ( if you would like to attend.

All five home games this season are video streamed (pay per view) on through Yale's All Access with Ron Vaccaro and Carm Cozza providing the call.

The Bulldogs, off on Mondays, are on the field at 7:30 a.m. (until approx. 9:30) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday behind the baseball stadium. Fridays are walk-through days either at Yale Bowl or on the road and times vary. Players and coaches are available for interviews with working media following the practice if there are no class conflicts. All schedules are subject to change.

Yale on YES includes three broadcasts this fall on the YES Network. This week's initial broadcast re-airs Saturday night at 7:00, Sunday at 11 p.m. and next Tuesday at 6 a.m. The other Yale on YES games are Nov. 5 (Brown at Yale) and Nov. 12 (Yale at Princeton). All games begin at 12:05 ET. This is the fourth straight fall the Bulldogs appear on the network home for New York Yankees baseball. YES broadcaster Chris Shearn handles the play-by-play, with color commentary coming from former Ivy League and National Football League lineman Ross Tucker and former Yale defensive back Jack Ford '72, a well-known author and TV personality.

Yale football airs live on VERSUS three times this fall, the second of which is this Saturday (Cornell on Sept. 24 was first). Yale Bowl on Nov. 19 is the setting for the final VERSUS telecast and the 128th edition of The Game. All three contests are noon kickoffs. Randy Moss, a new member of NBC's award-winning horse racing coverage team and contributor to NFL Network, serves as the play-by-play announcer for all VERSUS Ivy League games and is joined in the booth by Ross Tucker as lead analyst.

The annual survey of Bulldogs produced the anticipated results; Yale is a team full of leaders who produced as much off the field as they did on it. Here is the 201 breakdown.
77         players were captains of their high school football team
52        players were captains of another sport in high school
62         players were a national honors society member
 8         players were class president at their high school
 9       players were student body president at their high school
 9       players were class valedictorian at their high school
 4      players were class salutatorian at their high school

The following Yalies have distinguished themselves according to a vote by their teammates.
DB Josh Grizzard (Sr, Zebulon, N.C.)… most humorous
DB Geoff Dunham (Sr, Dallas, Texas)… most intelligent
DL Jake Stoller (Sr, Shaker Heights, OH)… most vocal leader (not captain)
DL Pat Moran (Sr, Alexandria, Va.)… most likely to be U.S. President
RB Alex Thomas (Sr, Ansonia, Conn.)… strongest player (pound-for-pound)
DB Drew Baldwin (Sr, Alexandria, Va.)… most involved in community outreach

"Hawaiian Fridays" are the rule in the Yale Football Office. Show up without a Hawaiian shirt and you risk a fine. Three coaches (Tom Williams, Ikaika Malloe, Doug Semones) have worked in high school, college or pro football on the island while three players, Gabe Fernandez (Honolulu), Kolu Buck (Kaneole) and Jake Semones (Haleiwa), grew up there.

The press box has a taste of New Haven with Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant serving slices, pasta and salad on home Saturdays. Rather than interrupting your work with a lunch at halftime, the food is now served on its arrival before kickoff.

Soon, everyone coming to the Bowl will know Yale's primary (Bulldogs) nickname.  A three-and-a half foot tall, 600-pound bronze statue of Handsome Dan will be placed outside in the Jensen Plaza and serve as the top spot to have photos taken around the famous venue. A slightly smaller bronze dog, which first appeared in 2010 in the Kenney Center where Yale players could touch it before heading to the field, now sits in the lobby of Payne Whitney Gym.

Yale was the first football team of any type to reach 800 wins when it beat Dayton 42-6 on Sept. 16, 2000. It wasn't hard for Michigan (890) to catch up playing three or four games more than Yale (866) each season.

Nate Lawrie '04 (49ers), Shane Bannon '11 (Chiefs), Tom McCarthy '11 (Falcons) and Chris Blohm '11 (49ers) were in NFL camps this summer. All but Blohm saw action in exhibition games. Bannon, an HB who was drafted by Kansas City in the seventh round and is currently on the taxi squad, had the first and final carry of the opening pre-season contest in August. McCarthy, a free agent DL in the Atlanta Falcons camp, made two tackles in a pre-season game. Lawrie, a TE who has NFL experience but played in the UFL the last two years, signed with the 49ers in August and made a catch in their last exhibition game.

Jesse Reising '11, a starting LB for Yale last fall who was seriously injured at Harvard in the 2010 season finale, is still recovering from a collision with Crimson TB Gino Gordon that left the Bulldog with arm nerve damage. Reising's U.S. Marine Corps career is on hold, but the licensed pilot is still serving his country. He is currently in Afghanistan working as a contractor while he plans a non-profit organization with Yale classmate Nick Rugoff. "Operation Opportunity" will provide personalized prepatory services for the children of fallen service members.  "It's the means by which I hope to redirect the outpouring of support I have gotten since my injury towards the service members who are now serving in my place. I have been thinking, since all the e-mails and all the support started pouring in, how could I harness this support for some greater good."

Yale, which last played in the Golden State in 2005 at the University of San Diego, has another trip to California planned. On Oct. 5, 2013, the Bulldogs will play against Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. The only two games the Blue has played on the West Coast were against USD.

The Ivy League Office has a weekly online radio show, "Inside Ivy League Football," which takes an in-depth look at the action and the news and notes surrounding Ivy football. The 10-episode show airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on ( It's available on-demand via BlogTalkRadio and   

filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director