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Bulldogs Host Perfect Princeton

Jack Warhola image
Jack Warhola image

Last Home Game Includes Cozza Pre-Game Celebration

Yale Football's Team 146 has its toughest task of the 2018 season when it hosts unbeaten No. 11 ranked Princeton on Yale Bowl's Class of 1954 Field. The Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2 Ivy) and Tigers (8-0, 5-0) square off Saturday in a 12:30 contest airing live on ESPN+, WELI Radio (AM 960) and iHeart Radio. Saturday, which includes a 9:30 AM celebration of Carm Cozza's life at Coxe Cage, is also the last home contest for 23 Yale seniors.

The last time Princeton came to the Bowl with a perfect (7-0) record was 1964. Led by Cosmo Iacavazzi's 185 yards and 2 TDs, the Tigers ended Yale's hopes for an Ivy title with a 35-14 decision before finishing the year 9-0. The last time Princeton was 8-0 was in 1995, when it won the league title after finishing 8-1-1 overall. The loss came to the Elis, 21-13, at Palmer Stadium.

Yale University celebrates the life of Hall of Fame football head coach Carmen L. Cozza this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. inside Coxe Cage. Cozza, who coached the Bulldogs to 10 Ivy titles in 32 seasons, passed away on Jan. 4, 2018. The Elis are wearing a patch on their jerseys this season -- and the Class of 1954 Field has the same artwork painted on its surface in two places -- to honor the college football legend. That patch is also on the cover of the game program, which includes a feature on Cozza.

Carm Cozza won 22 of 32 – including 14 straight – meetings with Princeton over a hall of fame career at Yale that spanned from 1965 to 1996. On the day the university remembers Cozza, the Bulldogs hope some of the Cozza influence rubs off on them against a perfect Princeton squad.

The first meeting was in 1873, a 3-0 Princeton win. The rivalry has developed into the second-most played in college football. This week marks the 141st meeting, second only to Lehigh-Lafayette (153), with Yale leading 77-53-10 overall. Princeton came to the Bowl perfect and lost to Yale in 1927 (14-6) and 1956 (42-20). In 1934, Princeton was perfect at 6-0 and lost 7-0 to the "Ironmen" at Palmer Stadium). In 1933, 1935, 1950 and 1964, the Tigers came in perfect and did as expected in the Bowl.

The Yale defense set a school record by holding Brown to -27 yards rushing while registering 7 sacks and an interception. Some of the credit for that performance goes to the Bulldog offense. Rookie QB Griffin O'Connor, who threw 4 TD passes and helped the Blue jump out to a big lead, forced the visitors to throw early. RB Alan Lamar rushed for 2 TDs and WRs Reed Klubnik and JP Shohfi each caught a pair of scoring tosses, while LB Ryan Burke had 2 sacks and Deonte Henson had 8 solo tackles.

QB John Lovett scored 2 TDs to help Princeton overcome its first second-half deficit of the season in a 14-9 win over Dartmouth last week at Princeton Stadium. He now has rushing touchdowns in 18 straight games, one shy of the Ivy League record held by Yale's Mike McLeod '09. Princeton got a game-high 10 tackles from LB and captain Tom Johnson. The Tigers, trying to reach 9-0 for the first time since 1964, can throw the ball too. WR Jesper Horsted leads the league with 9 TD catches for a squad with a 37-point average margin of victory.

Team 145 erased a 17-point, first-half deficit by scoring three touchdowns over the last 30 minutes to clinch at least a share of the Ancient Eight crown with a 35-31 win at Princeton Stadium.

There are 23 seniors on the current Yale roster playing their final home game against Princeton and last collegiate game at Fenway Park. Included among the seniors are 10 offensive players, nine on defense and four special teamers.

The ball burst after it was kicked during the first meeting in 1873, and it took 30 minutes to replace it... Princeton's James Haxall drop kicked a school-best 65-yard field goal in a 2-1 Tiger win in 1882... Playing both ways for the entire game, Yale's "Iron Men" ended Princeton's 15-game win streak with a 7-0 win in 1934 at New Jersey... Yale held the orange and black to one first down and minus-four yards rushing in a 20-14 Bulldog win at Princeton in 1945... The 1953 Bulldogs erased a 17-0 Princeton halftime lead and won 26-24... RB Don Gesicki '76 completed a 97-yard pass play to Gary Fencik '76 at Princeton in 1975 in what was the longest pass play in Yale history as the Blue won 24-13... 1981 was the battle of Bob Holly (Princeton QB) vs. Rich Diana '82 (Yale RB). Holly, who scored the winning TD with 4 seconds left, threw for a school-record 501 yards while Diana set the Yale record with 222 rushing yards in a 35-31 Tiger win at Princeton... Kevin Moriarty '86 hauled in a 14-yard pass from Mike Curtin '86 with 5 ticks on the clock in Yale's 27-24 win in 1984... The 1995 Elis spoiled an undefeated season by winning at Princeton behind QB Chris Hetherington '96 (229 total offense)... The Bulldogs, who tied the game on a 22-yard TD pass from Alvin Cowan '05 to Chandler Henley '06 with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter, won a double-OT game at Princeton in 2003 by recovering a fumble after Yale kicked a field goal. The Tigers took a 34-31 decision at the Bowl in 2006 that led to the two teams sharing the Ivy crown.
No quarterback in the long history of Yale Football has had a debut like Griffin O'Connor, who got his first snaps in his first collegiate start last week. The rookie from Huntington Beach, Calif., threw 4 touchdown passes to lead the Bulldogs to a 46-16 win over Brown. O'Connor, who led the Elis to a score on their first possession, completed 30 of 38 passes for 436 yards and did not have an interception or a sack. The passing yards total was the most by an Ivy freshman and third most in school history. His 452 yards of total offense were second at Yale, which helped him earn STATS FCS national rookie of the week and Ivy League co-Offensive Player (and rookie) of the Week.

There have been 3 different Yale starters behind center the last 3 games. Junior Kurt Rawlings suffered a season-ending injury on a run during the first Yale possession of the second half at Penn, a play that gained 11 yards inside the red zone. Rawlings, who is climbing the Yale career record lists, has a career-high 4 TDs and 344 yards in a win over Mercer that earned him Ivy League Player of the Week on Oct. 13. He threw for 306 yards and 3 TDs (1 rush TD) against Maine in September (Gold Helmet Award from NE Sports Writers). Sophomore Jimmy Check got the start at Columbia and shared some of the snaps with classmate Patrick Conte, who has also been the primary holder for kicks.

Junior RB Alan Lamar (Olive Brank, Miss.), who missed 2017 with an injury, is back in the form he showed as rookie in 2016 with 97 yards per game and 6 rushing TDs.

LAMAR in 2018: Ivy League & CSM Offensive Player of Week for 179 yards, 2 TDs at Penn… Scored twice vs. Columbia.

LAMAR in 2016: Team's freshman MVP... Second-team All-Ivy... Served as top kickoff return man for the first four games until he was needed at tailback... Led Yale with 557 yards and five TDs... Got first collegiate snaps in the backfield vs Dartmouth and ran 23 times for 180 yards and TDs of seven and 43 yards... His Dartmouth total was five yards shy of Robert Carr's freshman school rushing record of 185 yards and got him STATS FCS (national) Rookie of the Week and Ivy co-Rookie of the Week... First start vs. Penn with 118 yards and a TD catch... Scored on one-yard run in win at Harvard.

Junior WR Reed Klubnik (Austin, Texas) leads the Ivy League in receptions with a 7.5 average, which ranks 8th in the FCS. His career-best 13 catches for 124 yards came against Dartmouth this fall. He has had two games over 100 yards and caught three TD passes against Maine, the most for a Bulldog receiver since 2013. His 8 TD catches this year tied for No. 6 on the Yale season list, while his 12 career TDs are No. 8. Klubnik's 60-yard scoring catch vs. Brown was the longest for Yale this season.

Junior JP Shohfi, a WR from San Marino, Calif., missed the first game this fall and then caught 23 passes over the next three. Last week vs. Brown, he had a game-high 9 grabs for 2 scores and 104 yards, and his first quarter, spinning, one-handed TD catch made ESPN's Top 10 Plays. Shohfi snared six passes for 152 yards and two scores in a win over Mercer on Oct. 13. Shohfi, who handles punt returns as well, is now third among Ivy receivers (13th in FCS) with 6.6 catches per game.

Nicholas Crowle was voted captain by his teammates last August. He is a senior DL using a fifth year of eligibility. His career totals are 63 tackles and 10.5 TFL in 34 career games. The Fairfield Prep star two-way player is the 18th Yale football captain from Connecticut and the second from Milford. He is a Political Science major in Ezra Stiles College who grew up attending Yale games and always wanted to be a Bulldog.

Sophomore RB Zane Dudek has 18 career TD runs and just cracked Yale's career top 10 list.

DUDEK in 2018: Best day was 22-217 at Holy Cross… 2 TDs at Cornell.

DUDEK in 2017: Phil Steele FCS Offensive Freshman of the Year and First Team Freshman All-America... Finalist for Jerry Rice Award for FCS Rookie of Year... CSM Freshman of the Year... Phil Steele and CSM Third-Team All-America... Ivy League Rookie of the Year... First-Team All-Ivy League... New Haven Gridiron Club's Harry Jacunski Award... Led league in every rushing and scoring category including yards (1,133, 9th at Yale), yards per game (113.3), rushing TDs (15, 5th at Yale), yards per carry (7.1, 2nd in Ivy history, ties Yale record set in 1956), overall TDs (16), points (96, 2nd in FCS) and all-purpose yards (134.5)... First true freshman to lead league in rushing... Best Yale freshman football season ever for a running back... Six games over 100 yards... Ivy rookie of the week six (last 5 straight) times and the offensive player of the week once... STATS FCS National Rookie of the Week and took both Ivy honors after going for 173 yards against Columbia... Hero Sports Candidate, Ivy League Honor Roll, STATS Honorable Mention after rushing for 131 yards on nine attempts and 2 TDs against Lehigh... Ivy League Rookie of the Week after rushing for 173 yards on 16 attempts and 1 TD against Cornell.

Dudek Career Bests:
Yards: 217 at Holy Cross 2018
Attempts: 35 at Princeton 2017
Rushing TDs: 3 vs. Brown & at Princeton 2017

A pair of juniors who were All-Ivy picks last fall are playing side-by-side this season on Yale's offensive line. LT Sterling Strother (Moraga, Calif.) and LG Dieter Eiselen (Stellenbosch, South Africa) are both over 300 pounds and command great respect from opponents. Strother was a college hoops prospect who was convinced by his high school football coach to focus on the gridiron. Eiselen was a rugby player and weight lifter in South Africa looking for a way to become a college football player. He accomplished that by attending summer college football camps in the states, getting coaches interested and learning the game quickly while attending Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn. 

Senior J. Hunter Roman is a regular on the defense who plays end and has been named a semifinalist for the NFF's William Campbell Trophy, the most prestigious scholar-athlete award for a college football player. His brother, D. Major Roman, had a career-best 2 catches at Columbia on Oct. 27. D. Major, a sophomore tight end, was a NFF High School Scholar-Athlete (national) finalist when he played at New London (CT) High School.

Senior PK/P Alex Galland, an All-Ivy pick last fall, is happy to blow his own horn… especially if he can take part in the national anthem. The Bakersfield, Calif., native, has played his trumpet with the Yale Band for the Star Spangled Banner at home games when the team schedule permits and his band mates remember to bring his instrument. Galland, a mechanical engineering major, worked at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, Conn., last summer and was offered a full-time job. He will have to let the company know soon if he is accepting the offer; Galland is ahead of schedule on graduation requirements and will finish school this semester, including a very interesting senior project (he is designing a mechanism to gauge the accuracy and decision making of weapon-carrying law enforcement officials). On the watch list for the Fred Mitchell Award (nation's best PK), Galland was Chris Sailer's 2018 California Camp pick as "top college punter." He is very interested in testing his skills at the next level.

DL Charles Callender '20 – Second-Team 2017
DB Malcom Dixon '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
RB Zane Dudek '21 – First-Team 2017
OL Dieter Eiselen '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
P/PK  Alex Galland '19 – Second-Team 2017
RB Alan Lamar '20 – Second-Team 2016
QB Kurt Rawlings '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
OL Sterling Strother '20 – Second-Team 2017

There are many leaders among the 2018 Bulldogs, including senior J. Hunter Roman, who was selected as a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William Campbell Trophy. Here's how we quantify the leadership on the roster.
Captains of high school football teams: 82
Captains of another sport in high school: 50
National Honor Society Members: 45
High School Class Presidents: 6
High School Class Valedictorians: 2

The 2018 Yale football team represents 24 states and 4 countries (US, Canada, England, South Africa)... California has the most players with 14... Connecticut and Texas have the second most with 9, while New Jersey and Massachusetts both have 8... Kamsi Nwangwu, from Woodbridge, is the Bulldog whose home is closest to the campus... Dieter Eiselen, from Stellenbosch, South Africa, came the farthest to attend Yale (nearly 7800 miles)... The tallest players on the team are So. Grant Neagli and Jr. Jett Sexton, who stand at 6'7. Grant Neagli is also the heaviest player at 325 pounds… The average for Bulldog O-linemen is 6'4 3/4 and 290 pounds…. The average DL is 6'3 1/4 and 254 pounds.

A survey of the team produced some interesting anecdotal information about the Bulldogs.
Most humorous: Spencer Matthei & Rodney Thomas II
Most intelligent: Alex Galland
Most vocal: J. Hunter Roman
Most likely to become president: JP Shohfi
Most interesting extracurricular: Alex Galland (plays in Yale Band)
Best singer: Kamsi Nwangwu
Strongest (pound-for-pound): Alan Lamar, Melvin Rouse II
Most involved in community: John Lager

When you win, schools come calling. Three coaches from Team 145 left Yale last winter. OC Joe Conlin became Fordham's head coach and took DB coach Paul Rice with him. TE coach Chandler Henley went to the NFL with Titans. New Members: Matt Cerins (TE, intern on Yale staff 2017), Ben Olson (DL, at Colgate in 2017, brother of Jake Olson, Chief of Staff), Al Netter (OL, at Michigan in 2017). Changes: Kevin Cahill went from Pass-Game Coordinator to Offensive Coordinator; Art Asselta (WR) is now Pass-Game Coordinator; Jordan Stevens went from DL in 2017 to co-Defensive Coordinator and LB coach.

Yale is 3rd in the Ivy with 2.6 sacks per game. LBs Ryan Burke and Miles Oldacre lead the Bulldogs in QB takedowns… Yale leads the Ivy in passing offense, kickoff return yards and time of possession.

Three Yale seniors from the 2017 championship team were on NFL rosters over the summer and made it to the final cut. Foyesade Oluokun made the 53-man Atlanta Falcons roster and has 39 tackles (8 GP) to date, while Jaeden Graham is currently on the Falcons' practice squad. In addition, Matthew Oplinger played in multiple exhibition games and turned some heads.

All 10 games air live on AM (960 WELI or 1300 ESPN) as well as iHeart Radio with Ron Vaccaro '04 and Jack Siedlecki providing the call.

All of Yale's home games as well as Ivy road games in 2018 are on ESPN. Most of them are on ESPN+, a subscription based (Watch ESPN) streaming platform, but the Bulldogs are on TV three times (Dartmouth, Penn, Harvard) this fall. Links will be available on for each streamed game.

Yale and Harvard have never played each other at a professional sports venue, so this year's edition of The Game is truly unique. The Nov. 17 contest takes place at Fenway Park with a noon kick on one of the ESPN networks. The 135th meeting of Yale and Harvard is also unique because it sold out in a few days last spring. That's the earliest tickets have ever gone on sale and the fastest the tickets have been sold.  The New York Post recently came out with "The 20 Best Experiences College Football Has to Offer" and The Game ranked No. 5 behind Clemson (Howard's Rock), Army-Navy, Notre Dame (TD Jesus) and Wisconsin's "Jump Around."

Sept. 15: Zane Dudek (Ivy HRoll); Ryan Burke (Ivy HRoll)
Sept. 22: Spencer Alston (Ivy ROW); Alex Galland (Ivy HRoll)
Sept. 29: Kurt Rawlings (NE Gold Helmet, CSM Ivy POW); Reed Klubnik (Ivy HRoll), Alex Galland (Ivy HRoll)
Oct. 5: Reed Klubnik (Ivy HRoll)
Oct. 13: Kurt Rawlings (Ivy POW, CSM Ivy POW, CFPA); Noah Pope (Ivy HRoll)
Oct. 20: Alan Lamar (Ivy & CSM POW); Noah Pope (Ivy HRoll)
Oct. 27: Reed Klubnik (Ivy HRoll)
Nov. 3: Griffin O'Connor (Ivy co-POW, Ivy ROW, CSM POW); Reed Klubnik (Ivy HRoll); JP Shohfi (Ivy HRoll)

by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity