August 30, 2007

Defending Champs Continue Preseason Work in Scrimmage

Aug. 30, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With the season opener at Georgetown looming just 15 days away, the Yale Bulldogs got a chance to measure their preseason progress Thursday afternoon against the team they shared the 2006 Ivy League title with. The Princeton Tigers visited Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field for the two teams' annual scrimmage, over four hours of football designed to help both teams prepare for the regular season.

Ultimately, the scrimmage served its purpose of helping the Bulldogs identify their strengths and weaknesses as the title defense gets underway. Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, noted some of his team's miscues and costly penalties but expressed the belief that the day was a learning opportunity.

"That's why you're out here scrimmaging," Siedlecki said. "Georgetown's going to be in game three [when we play them]. They're not going to make those mistakes. Today was our day to make them, and we've got to move on."

After a series of situational drills, the teams scrimmaged for five quarters. Two early hits by the Yale defense got the crowd going, including a loud pop from sophomore cornerback Paul Rice and a sack from senior defensive lineman Stephen Schmalhofer. Still, the Tigers got on the scoreboard first with a touchdown at the 6:20 mark as quarterback Bill Foran threw to wide receiver Will Thanheiser from six yards out.

Yale tied the score early in the second quarter, driving 76 yards for a 17-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Ryan Fodor to junior wide receiver Ken Ebeling. Junior tailback Mike McLeod had the key play of the drive, stutter-stepping past a series of attempted tackles to convert a third-and-four at the Yale 30 on the third play.

That was the last significant action for most of Yale's starters in the game, as the Bulldogs began working in younger players.

"I thought that last offensive drive with the ones, that was a 13-play drive, was a very good drive," Siedlecki said. "I think the offensive line really had a nice series."

The Bulldog defense provided a series of highlights midway through the quarter. On a third-and-inches at the Yale 40, junior defensive lineman Shane Jones wrapped up Tiger quarterback Bill Foran behind the line of scrimmage. When the Tigers went for it on fourth down, junior linebacker Matt Plummer burst through the line to bring down running back R.C. Lagomarsino for a four-yard loss.

Princeton's next drive ended with a leaping interception by defensive back Andrew Liyana at the Tiger 32. The Yale offense turned that into a 23-yard field goal by senior place-kicker Alan Kimball for a 10-7 lead at the 7:31 mark.

The Tigers tallied just before the end of the second quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Anderson to wide receiver Adam Berry. They added another touchdown in the third quarter -- a five-yarder from quarterback Greg Mroz, brother of former Yale captain Jeff Mroz '05, to wide receiver Andrew Kerr.

The defenses took full control after that, including an interception by junior defensive back Rylan Spence that ended one Princeton drive after just one play. The Bulldogs came up with a goal-line stand in the final quarter, stopping three Princeton tries from the 1-yard line. The final Tiger drive was stymied by a pair of nice plays from freshman defensive back Gio Christodoulou, who stopped one Princeton receiver with a bone-jarring hit immediately after the catch, then denied another on the very next play by batting away a pass.

The Bulldogs have 13 more practices scheduled before they visit the Hoyas to open the 135th season of Yale Football.

"We've had a really good camp and a really strong summer," said senior defensive lineman Brandt Hollander, the team captain. "I think we're headed in the right direction."

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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