ALWAYS MUCH ON THE LINE IN THE GAME
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The ancient American sports spectacle that is The Game returns to Yale Bowl and the Class of 1954 Field on Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff that airs live on NBC Sports Network and on the Yale Football Radio Network (WELI AM-960). Yale (6-3, 3-3 Ivy) can be the ultimate spoiler when it hosts Harvard (8-1, 5-1) in the 132nd meeting of storied rivals. The Crimson, who need a victory to guarantee a piece of the title, are tied atop the Ivy League standings with Penn and Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs lead the Crimson 65-58-8 heading into the 132nd meeting. Yale is 28-27-5 at Boston (25-26-3 in Harvard Stadium), 30-30-3 at home and 7-1-0 at neutral sites. There have been 55 shutouts since the first meeting in 1875, and the Elis are 28-20-7 in those contests. This Saturday is the 29th time The Game has Ivy title implications for at least one squad, and Yale is 11-16-1 in those contests. Yale is 2-5-1 when both teams are still chasing the title during The Game.
With a share of the title on the line at Harvard Stadium, Yale rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie The Game 24-24 with 3:44 to play. But the Crimson got the final score of the day -- a 35-yard touchdown pass to take the lead with 55 seconds left -- and came away with a 31-24 win. The first half was a defensive battle, and the second half saw both teams take advantage of having the 14-mile-per-hour wind at their backs -- of the 45 points scored in the second, 38 were scored by the team with the wind.
Yale, winners of two straight with a combined 76 points, have scraped together two big days after being decimated by offensive injuries all season. The Elis had 27 points combined in a pair of Ivy losses prior to the wins over Brown and Princeton the last two games, but have found new life with position changes and the "next man up" mentality. Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense and special teams have been consistently strong, coming up with adjustments and big plays when needed.
The Blue erased three deficits, including a 14-0 start, to capture a 35-28 win at Princeton last week. Morgan Roberts connected with Robert Clemons from 19 yards out for the game-winning TD pass late in the fourth quarter before the defense came up with a big stop. Tailback Dale Harris ran for 177 yards, including a 71-yard scoring play, and Christopher Williams-Lopez hauled in 10 passes to hand the Tigers their only home loss in 2015. Free safety Hayden Carlson led all players with 10 tackles, while Spencer Rymiszewski and Darius Manora picked off passes to help facilitate the comeback.
Harvard's win streak came to an end at 22 in a 35-25 loss to Penn. It was the first loss for the Crimson since Oct. 26, 2013, against Princeton. Penn lost a big, early lead before coming back to register the upset along the Charles. Harvard's Scott Hosch completed 20-of-30 passes for 246 yards and two TDs. Ben Braunecker, who topped 100 yards receiving for the fourth time in five weeks, notched 134, while the running tandem of Paul Stanton, Jr., and Semar Smith put up 136 combined rushing yards. These players have contributed to an offense that ranks 12th in scoring nationally despite turning the ball over three times last week. On the other side, captain Matt Koran leads a unit ranking No. 3 in the FCS for scoring defense. The point total allowed last Saturday was the most since that 2013 game with the Tigers.
When you consider the stats, the Bulldogs will likely need an efficient performance in all facets of the game to win. Harvard is the Ancient Eight's highest scoring (36.2) team and its second most stingy (12.3), while Yale is in the middle of the league with 24 and 22 respectively. The Bulldogs have nearly 30 more penalties than the Crimson this fall. That tendency must be reversed for the Blue to sing "Bulldog" on Saturday.
Saturday is the career finale for 23 Yale seniors, though a few are eligible for another season based on medical hardship. The class of 2016, which has seen 21 victories and consecutive years with perfect non-league records, has contributed numerous key players on both sides of the line.
IT STARTED HERE
The Game is responsible for a number of original events: Yale performed the first on-side kick against Harvard in 1881; Harvard's flying wedge was first seen in the 1892 contest; the first game in the Bowl was the 1914 meeting; the first crowd at an American sporting event over 80,000 was the 1920 game at the Bowl; and the first triple OT Ivy game happened in 2005 at Yale.
The Yale-Harvard series has seen its share of last-second wins, comebacks, outstanding performances, firsts and freaky plays. Here are some of the most memorable meetings:
1881: Yale tries the first on-side kick ever in football during a scoreless tie
1946: Elis overcome a 14-0 Harvard lead to win 27-14
1952: Yale student manager Charlie Yeager catches a PAT pass in a 41-14 Eli win at Cambridge
1968: QB Frank Champi completes a TD pass and a conversion play with no time left as Harvard gains a 29-29 draw at Cambridge and shares the Ivy crown with Yale
1972: Yale overcomes a 17-0 first half deficit to win 28-17
1974: QB Milt Holt scored on a 1-yard run with 0:15 left in a 21-16 victory that gave Harvard a share of the Ivy title with Yale
1975: Mike Lynch's 26-yard FG with 0:33 left gave Crimson a 10-7 win and sole possession of the Ivy title
1977: Mike Sullivan's 65-yard TD run out of punt formation ignites Yale in a 24-7 win at the Bowl
1995: Crimson Eion Hu scores from 2 yards out with :29 left in a 22-21 win
1999: WR Eric Johnson (21-244) scoops up a Joe Walland (42-67, 437) pass with :29 left to send Yale to a 24-21 win and an Ivy title
2005: Clifton Dawson ends the longest game in Ivy history in the 3rd OT with a two-yard run to give Harvard a 30-24 win at the Bowl
BREAKIN UP IS HARD TO DO
Junior corner Spencer Rymiszewski (West Chester, Pa.), who picked off a pass to set up the game-winning Yale score last week, leads the league with 11 pass breakups. He leads the team with three interceptions, while he has four career picks.
Yale allowed just seven Princeton points in the second half last week. The week before, the D blanked another high-powered offense in the second half. Sophomore safety Hayden Carlson, coming off a 10-tackle day at Old Nassau, leads the Ivies with a 9.0 average, 56 solos and 81 overall tackles. The Glen Ellyn, Ill., native has one interception and four pass breakups this fall.
BACK ON OFFENSE
Junior Dale Harris, who rushed for 1,700 yards and 28 TDs at St. Paul's School in Maryland, never played cornerback before coming to Yale, but made the switch. All the injuries on offense had the Yale coaches looking for immediate help. After two-plus seasons as a defensive starter for the Elis, the Brooklandville, Md., native was back on offense against Brown rushing for 71 yards, including a three-yard TD play. He also played on special teams and recovered a Brown fumble on the opening kickoff. He had the second-best day for an Ivy runner this fall with 177 yards on 30 carries at Princeton. That included the longest (71) run of the year for a Yale player. Harris, who received numerous Division I offers, was a Big 33 All Star who captained his high school team and lettered all four years.
ROBERTS CLIMBING YALE LISTS
Morgan Roberts, a 2014 second-team All-Ivy pick who attended Charlotte Country Day before enrolling at Clemson University, played in nine games in 2013 as the No. 2 and then took the top job in game one of 2014. Roberts, who has seen all kinds of injury changes around him this fall, is on the following Yale career lists:
1st Total Offense: 6,089
2nd Completions: 492... needs 57 to catch Patrick Witt '12
2nd Passing Yards: 5,772... needs 261 to catch Patrick Witt
3rd Passing Attempts: 803… needs 109 to catch Patrick Witt
4th Passing TDs: 35... needs 6 to catch Alvin Cowan '05
The Bulldogs, led by Morgan Roberts, have come from behind in four of the six victories. Yale was down by 14 in game one against Colgate and 19 in the second contest before marching back to victory. The 33-point combined deficit was erased by the Elis outscoring the first two opponents 42-7 in the second half. On Oct. 17 at Maine, the Blue erased a pair of deficits to register the victory. Yale trailed three times at Princeton, including 14-0, before winning 35-28. The Bulldogs made three big comebacks last year to register victories over Lehigh, Army and Brown.
Deshawn Salter only had 13 carries two weeks ago against Brown, but 14 of his 45 yards came on three scoring plays. The sophomore from Syracuse scored twice in the first quarter and once in the third to run his team-high rushing TD total to seven. His 233-yard rushing day at Lehigh is the most by an Ivy back this fall.
KNIT FOR SUCCESS
Your typical college defensive tackle is not spending 16 hours knitting a scarf for his girlfriend. Carl Kreitzberg, a history major who is adored by his teammates for his wit, spirit and toughness, is unique among football players. Very few take up knitting during their playing careers, or any other time. The 6-foot-2, 293-pound Salem, Ore., native is part of Yale's defensive front rotation and has 10 tackles this season.
Sophomore defensive back Jason Alessi, who has two long punt returns this fall, has 36 tackles and an interception this fall. Against Columbia, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native returned a first-half punt 80 yards for a TD. It was the third longest punt return for a Bulldog and the first since 2011. Alessi is second in the Ivies with a 12.9 average per return this fall, which includes a 44-yard return at Penn. So he is playing defense and special teams, but that's not all. Alessi played in all 16 Yale lacrosse games last spring and helped the Elis win the Ivy League Tournament as a member of the second midfield. He had six goals and 11 points.
TAIL OF BACKS
Junior Candler Rich, who led Yale last year with a 7.5 average per carry, was Yale's 2015 starter in the backfield until he was lost to an injury in week two. Rich's best day as a Bulldog was 202 yards on 17 carries at Columbia last year. Sophomore Deshawn Salter stepped in for Rich in game three and rushed for 233 yards (5th best at Yale, most by an Ivy player this fall) and two scores at Lehigh. Salter was injured in the Penn game and missed the Columbia game. Austin Reuland, who made the move from WR last spring, replaced Salter in the second half at Penn. Reuland carried the ball 12 times for 61 yards including his first collegiate TD. He too needed help (vs. the Lions), which got sophomore Jamal Locke his first collegiate rushing attempts while catching three passes. Dale Harris moved over from the defense to take handoffs the last two weeks.
There are seven high schools shared by current Yale and Harvard players... Sophomore Jamal Locke has already made Yale's career kickoff return yardage list. He's No. 7 with 857 yards, while his 581 yards this year rank second to Chris Smith (732, 2010)… The Elis will have a new captain announced next Monday at the team banquet… Eight Bulldogs on defense have accounted for 10 interceptions this season… Yale finished 4-1 on the road this year.
NEXT MAN UP
He's only played six games, but he leads the team with 47 catches. Christopher Williams-Lopez had worked his way into the mix of receivers in the pre-season, but he suffered an injury that set him back enough where it didn't look like it would be easy to get in the varsity rotation. However, he got healthy while many of his teammates – especially the receivers – went down with injuries. After making his varsity debut at Dartmouth, he has been the go-to-guy. He had a career-best 13 grabs for 154 yards against Brown. The sophomore WR from Duluth, Ga., did not get any varsity action in 2014.
Penn, Dartmouth and Harvard are atop the league standings at 5-1. Dartmouth hosts Princeton and Penn has Cornell in Philadelphia this week. No matter who wins The Game, Yale will finish fourth in the standings, while Harvard could be first or second.
Last summer we mourned the loss of former Yale and Chicago Bears captain Mike Pyle '61, who led the Bulldogs to their last perfect season in 1960. The 2015 Elis honor the fallen legend with a "Pyle 59" sticker on the back of their helmets. Many members of the 1960 team will be at the Bowl this Saturday to celebrate the 55th anniversary of that 9-0 season.
JAURON TO BE HONORED SATURDAY
Dick Jauron '73, the All-American Yale running back who became a pro football star before earning AP Coach of the Year honors as an NFL head coach, is about to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. Induction for the class of 2015 takes place Dec. 8, at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City's historic Waldorf Astoria. Yale honors Jauron Saturday between the first and second quarters.
Tyler Varga '15, Yale's All-American running back, made the 53-man Indianapolis Colts roster this fall. Varga played in all four Indy pre-season games and finished with 18 carries for 69 yards, including a touchdown against the Rams on Aug. 29. He had five receptions for 36 yards, made a tackle on special teams and returned a pair of kickoffs. He played in the first three regular season games - returning kicks, playing on other special teams and getting into the offensive backfield on third downs - but was placed on injured reserve (Oct. 14) for the rest of the season.
Cole Champion, Yale's senior captain who is third in the Ivy League this fall with nine pass breakups, was part of two high school national championships at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The Bulldog strong safety and two-time All-Ivy pick has 252 tackles and ranks 15th overall at Yale on the career list. Champion, who has four career interceptions, has played in every game since he came to New Haven while starting the last 35 straight.
STRONG DOG LEG
Yale junior kicker/punter Bryan Holmes leads the team with 54 points while handling all aspects of kicking. He has a league-best 12 field goals made (17 attempts), including a career-long of 44 at Lehigh. The school record for made field goals in a year is 15 by John Troost in 2003. Holmes has a 37-yard punting average with 12 landing inside the 20. Holmes, Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week after the Cornell game, is a 6-foot, 197-pound Eli who began his collegiate career as a kickoff specialist his freshman season before exclusively handling the punting duties in 2014. His 2015 responsibilities make him the first Yale player to handle all three areas since Tom Mante in 2008.
The Bulldogs rank 11th in the FCS with five blocked kicks this fall and are No. 2 in the Ivy (Harvard has 7). Junior FS Foyesade Oluokun blocked two Colgate field goals on Sept. 19. Junior DE Marty Moesta knocked down a Cornell PAT, while freshman DE J. Hunter Roman got to a Big Red field goal attempt in week two. Junior DT Copache Tyler got a piece of a Maine field goal try on Oct. 17 for the fifth of the fall.
Junior DT Jack Rushin recently donated marrow to a needy recipient. He is the 32nd donor to come from the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Drive, an annual event on the Yale campus that honors the memory of the former Bulldog women's hockey player. Rushin, the nephew of Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin, only missed a day of practice.
CONSISTENCY ON THE LINE
The five starters on the Yale offensive line started all 10 games the last two seasons. That is not the case this fall with at least one starter missing in each of the last six games. Center Luke Longinotti has 29 straight starts, while left tackle Khalid Cannon has 19. On the other hand, guards Jon Bezney and Anders Huizenga and tackles Beau Iverson and Karl Marback, who moved over from the defensive line this fall, got their first starts this fall.
Pat Graham '01 (see photo), a former Yale tight end and defensive lineman, is a defensive assistant coach for the 2015 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. He is in his seventh season at Foxboro. Graham, a Waterbury, Conn., native, was a member of Yale's 1999 Ivy title team. Michael McDaniel '05 is in his ninth NFL campaign and first as offensive assistant with Atlanta. Last year, he was a receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns. He also coached the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. The Yalie with the longest NFL tenure (player/coach) in Ivy history is Dick Jauron '73, who played eight seasons between two teams and then spent 32 years as a coach. His last was 2012 with Cleveland.
Junior P/PK Bryan Holmes: Ivy STPOW (Cornell)
Sophomore LB Matthew Oplinger: Ivy DPOW; CSM Ivy DPOW (Lehigh)
Senior QB Morgan Roberts: Ivy OPOW (Colgate)
Sophomore TB Deshawn Salter: Ivy co-OPOW (Lehigh); Ivy OPOW & CSM Ivy OPOW (Maine)
PREVIOUS IVY HONORS
Seven players on the current roster earned All-Ivy honors in 2013, 2014 or both. On defense it was: SS Cole Champion '16 – Second-Team 2013, HM 14; DB Foyesade Oluokun '17 – Second-Team 2013, 14 and DL Co-pache Tyler '17 – Second-Team 2014. The offense included: QB Morgan Roberts '16 – Second-Team 2014; C Luke Longinotti '16 – Second-Team 2014; TE Leo Haenni '17 – H M 2014 and RB Candler Rich '17 – HM 2014.
890 or 891
Yale has 890 or 891 wins depending how you view things. The NCAA record books give the Bulldogs credit for games won on the field, which is 890. However, the Ivy League credits Yale with one more (891) victory from a 1997 (forfeit) game against Penn. Yale was the first to 800 wins but has been overtaken by Michigan (923), while Notre Dame (892) and Texas (885) are not far behind.
BULLDOG CAPTAINS, COACHES
It's very rare to have an ex-Yale football captain on the coaching staff, but the Elis now have two. Paul Rice '10 (outside LB, special teams), who joined Tony Reno's staff in February of 2013, became the first captain to return as a "full-time" or "primary" coach since Albie Booth in the late 1930s. Chandler Henley '07 (TEs), who led the Elis to a 2006 Ivy title as captain, came back to New Haven last spring. Six Yale graduates currently serve on col-lege coaching staffs. Bob Shoop '88 is defensive coordinator at Penn State. Dartmouth has Kyle Metzler '02, the running game and recruiting coordinator who focuses on the offensive tackles. AJ Haase '09 is graduate assistant with Iowa, while Josh Grizzard '12 is graduate assistant at Duke.
Here's what the Bulldogs did in 2014.
Ranked 22nd among 124 FCS teams by NCAA simple rating system;
Team (FWAA Team of Week) – Sept. 27 win over Army
FCS Top 5 Stats: Total Offense (571.5) – 1; Third-Downs (.517) – 1; Scoring (41.3) – 3; Passing (323.6) – 5th
Major School (modern) Records Broken: Scoring, 411 points; Touchdowns, 53; Total Plays, 836; Total Offense: 5,715 yards; First Downs in a game, 36 vs. Army
National Stats Leaders: Receiving Yards per game - Grant Wallace (113.0); Scoring – Tyler Varga (15.6)
Yale is 6-3 in OT games including the win against Army in 2014. The Elis are 4-1 at home in extra sessions, the only loss against Harvard in triple OT in 2005. Yale has a pair of triple-session OTs (Penn, 2007) and a two double-dippers (Princeton, 2003; Holy Cross, 2008).
TUESDAYS AT MORY'S
Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football, and some of his players are at world famous Mory's (306 York Street) every Tuesday at noon for the Dick Galiette Yale Football Media Luncheon. This event is limited to media only. Please contact Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to attend. Cole Champion, Spencer Rymiszewski, Robert Clemons, Sebastian Little, Hayden Carlson, Deshawn Salter, Matthew Oplinger, Bryan Holmes, Morgan Roberts, Aaron Ault, Khalid Cannon, Victor Egu, Austin Reuland, Jason Alessi, Karl Kreitzberg and Christopher Williams-Lopez have attended.
YALE FOOTBALL RADIO NETWORK
You can listen to legendary coach Carm Cozza and Ron Vaccaro '04 call the action of Yale Football this fall on ESPN Radio1300 (AM 1300) and News Radio 960 WELI (AM 960), depending on the game, as well as iHeart Ra-dio, espnradio1300.com and on the Yale Football Radio Network, which includes Talk of Connecticut radio sta-tions WDRC (AM 1360 Hartford), WWCO (AM 1240 Waterbury), WMMW (AM 1470 Meriden), WSNG (AM 610 Torrington) and WDRC (FM 102.9 HD -3 Hartford). Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn also takes part in the broadcasts.
TEAM OF LEADERS
The 2015 Yale football team includes 34 high school football captains and 23 guys who were captains of other sports before coming to New Haven. There are also 32 National Honor Society members.
YALE ON TV
Eight of Yale's 10 football games this fall air live on TV including five broadcasts between NBC Sports Network and Fox College Sports that are part of the 2015 Ivy League TV Package. Yale's Ancient Eight TV games began on Oct. 10 at Dartmouth on Fox. The Bulldogs' first-ever Friday Ivy League Game was on NBCSN on Oct. 23 at Penn's Franklin Field. That was the second of three Eli games that require lights this season. The season finale against Harvard begins at 2:30 on Nov. 21 and can be seen on NBCSN as well. All games on NBCSN will also be available on NBC Sports Live Extra. In addition to the league package, all three non-league contests are on a mix of local and national TV. The season opener at Colgate aired on New York's Time Warner Cable. The second road trip, at Lehigh on Oct. 3, was on in the Lehigh Valley's Service Electric 2 Sports. The Elis made their first visit to the University of Maine for an Oct. 17 game broadcast on the local ABC affiliate and shared with Fox College Sports.
IVY LEAGUE DIGITAL NETWORK
Two of Yale's games can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network, while the other eight are on national or regional TV or another streaming network. Available at www.ivyleaguedigitalnetwork.com, fans can have a year-long Yale channel for $89.95. The package includes live home and selected away games in HD as well as on-demand programming. There is also a four-month pass for $34.95, a one-month pass for $10.95 or a single-day pass for $9.95.
The Bulldogs, off on Mondays, are on Clint Frank Field from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. 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 Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday practices if there is no student-athlete scheduling conflicts. All schedules are subject to change. Media must check with Steve Conn at least 24 hours in advance to attend a practice.
YORKSIDE, BLUE STATE COFFEE IN BOWL
The Yale Bowl press box has a true taste of New Haven with Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant and Blue State Coffee available to media. Yorkside, a family operated business since 1969, provides pies, pasta and salad Blue State, an 11-year-old business that donates a portion of sales to area non-profits, has the best coffee in town.
filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director