September 25, 2006

Yale Heading to Lafayette Saturday

Sept. 25, 2006

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale football team, coming off its first win of 2006 last Saturday at Cornell in the Ivy opener, is back to non-league play this weekend with a trip to Lafayette College. The first gridiron meeting of Yale and Lafayette in 15 years kicks off this Saturday at Easton, Pa., in newly renovated Fisher Field at 1 p.m. Ron Vaccaro '04 and legendary Yale football coach Carm Cozza call the action on WELI (AM-960), while it can also be heard on WYBC (AM-1340). This game will be televised by the Lafayette Sports Network and picked up by CSTV, which is available on DirecTV.

The Series

They have only met six times since 1912 and have not played since 1991, but Yale has won each contest with only two close ones. The Bulldogs won the first four with shutouts: 16-0 in 1912; 27-0 in 1913; 55-0 in 1935 and 47-0 in 1952. Those were all played at New Haven as well as the 18-17 Eli win in 1990. The last meeting was a 24-14 decision at Fisher Field in 1991. Yale is 75-20-3 (.780) against Patriot League teams.

The Coaches

Jack Siedlecki (Union '74), in his 10th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale. He is 104-65-2 as a collegiate head coach and 48-43 at Yale facing Lafayette for the first time this week. He served as a Lafayette assistant coach (1981-87) under Bill Russo. Frank Tavani (Lebanon Valley College '75) is 34-38 in his seventh season at Lafayette, his first head coaching job.

Bulldogs Take Ivy Opener

TB Mike McLeod rushed for 104 yards and scored three times as the Bulldogs opened Ivy play last weekend with a 21-9 win at Cornell. The Big Red had more first downs (20-16), yards (385-280) and had the ball longer (32-28), but the Elis never trailed because the defense came up with big plays all game to hold the home team to three field goals, Cornell's lowest home output in Ivy play since 2003 against Brown. It was also the fewest points Yale has allowed at Cornell since a 1977 shutout.

Tigers Overcome Leopards

RB Jonathan Hurt's two-yard TD run gave Lafayette a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter at Princeton, but Tiger QB Jeff Terrell then connected on two of his three scoring passes in a 26-14 decision last Saturday night. Brad Mauer's 16-yard TD pass to Shaun Adair had given the visitors a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter. Mauer (12-27, 129 yards) was picked off twice and Hurt finished with 65 yards on the ground as the Tigers dominated the final stats. LB Andy Romans led Lafayette with six solos and 11 total stops, including two for lost yardage.

Siedlecki Said After Cornell Game

"We ran the ball very well against Cornell. McLeod had 26 carries and over 100 yards with three TDs. Polhemus had a good rushing day and made three crucial throws on third downs in the fourth quarter. I expect that to be our offensive personality. Against San Diego, we were behind and it got us out of our game plan. Our offense is going to be led by McLeod, Henley and Wright. Our defense will be led by Hollander and Bobby Abare up front and Casey Gerald is becoming a force for us at corner. We are looking for our special teams to make a difference for us. In the first two games they have really stepped up and gotten it done. This three-game road stretch is difficult but we follow it with three at home."

McLeod Scores Three

Sophomore TB Mike McLeod, who was Yale's Walter Camp Player of the Game, enjoyed his finest day as a collegian with 145 yards of total offense and all three of Yale's TDs at Cornell. The sophomore running back hauled in his first career TD toss, a 41-yarder off a screen pass, before rushing for scores from 14 and nine yards out. He finished with 26 carries for 104 yards, the third time he has gone over the 100-yard mark at Yale but the first since game No. 3 of 2005. He had 104 at USD last year and 110 at home against Holy Cross. It was just the third time in 18 games that Cornell has allowed a 100-yard outing.

Getting The Feel

Junior QB Matt Polhemus improved on his debut as the starter with 131 passing yards and 48 rushing yards at Cornell. He completed nine of 19 throws (1 int, 1 sack), including a 41-yard connection with Mike McLeod, and averaged 6.9 yards on the ground. Polhemus, whose biggest play may have been a third-down conversion with a pass to WR Chandler Henley, put balls in tight spots on a number of plays that kept drives alive during his second career start.

First Touch

Sophomore Steve Santoro, who was making his first start as a DB for Yale, returned four kickoffs for 102 yards. He made his first start a memorable one with his first interception (9 yard return) and a team-high eight solo stops (9 overall). Santoro's first touch in a varsity game turned into a 94-yard kickoff return and Yale's first points of 2006 on Sept. 16 against USD. It was the sixth longest KOR in Yale history and the longest since David Knox went 96 yards in 2002 against Penn at the Bowl.

Bent But Not Broken

The Eli defense, which kept an opponent out of the end zone for the first time since a 37-3 win at Columbia last fall, allowed 385 yards of total offense and was on the field a lot more than the Big Red defense. The Yale tacklers prevented 2005 first-team All-Ivy back Luke Siwula (65 yards) from having another triple-digit day. Sophomore LB Bobby Abare led the Blue with 10 (5-5) total tackles, while senior LB Chris Barry had a team-high six (6-3) solo stops. DE Brendan Sponheimer and LB Michael Woodson forced Cornell QB Nathan Ford to fumble at the Yale one, while the Blue also stopped Cornell on a fourth down in the third quarter.

Driving 60

The three Mike McLeod touchdowns at Cornell culminated drives of 60, 68 and 68 yards taking five, seven and nine plays respectively.

Getting On The Board

Yale put the first points on the board at Cornell which was the first time that has happened since a 13-0 win over Dartmouth on Oct. 8, 2005. The Bulldogs, who have surrendered the first points in nine of the last dozen games, had not tallied first on the road since the 2005 season opener at San Diego.

Tough To Win When Giving Up 200 Rushing

The Bulldogs, who allowed 212 rushing yards at Cornell but won the game, had lost their last six straight when giving up over 200. The last time a team had gone over that mark and lost to Yale was Oct. 11, 2003, in a 40-17 win over Dartmouth at the Bowl.

Bulldog Bites

Last year at the Bowl, WR Ashley Wright had seven catches for 198 yards against Cornell and tied the school record with three TD grabs from QB Jeff Mroz (threw school-record 5 on the day). In the re-match last week at Ithaca, Wright caught two passes from Matt Polhemus for 16 yards... There are two Connecticut players on the Lafayette roster, freshman OL Brian Wycinowski (Cheshire) and junior PK Jordan Cullinane (Glastonbury)... Yale Associate Head Coach Keith Clark played at Lafayette and has only faced his alma mater as an assistant at Columbia.

Captain Catch

Senior WR Chandler Henley leads the team with 11 catches in two games after sitting out the 2005 season with an injury. Yale's No. 8 led the Blue with five grabs at Cornell, including a key third-down grab that gained 22 yards and set up the clinching score. Henley led Yale with six catches for 69 yards against the Toreros and earned Walter Camp Player of the Game honors. He snared a 24-yard toss from Matt Polhemus while catching more than half of the junior QB's completions.

Wright Gets Less Work

Senior WR Ashley Wright, who was first-team All-New England and All-Ivy while catching 61 passes for 795 yards and 10 scores and serving as the punter, has just five catches in two games and was not punting. The Mobile, Ala., native did haul in a 43-yard TD pass (12th of career) from Matt Polhemus against USD.

Around the Ivies

Harvard, despite numerous off-field issues, continued its dominance of Brown by knocking off the defending champs at Providence last Saturday, 38-21... Princeton overcame two deficits to win 26-14 at home against Lafayette... Columbia, off to a rare 2-0 start, beat Georgetown 23-21... In the battle of Philly, Villanova hung on for a 27-20 win over Penn... No. 1 ranked New Hampshire routed Dartmouth at Hanover, 56-14. Harvard, Columbia and Princeton are the only unbeatens.

Nutmeg State Connection

Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team, with offensive stars such as Rich Diana (Hamden) and John Pagliaro (Derby), but historians would be challenged to find a Bulldog squad with more in-state accolades than the 2006 team. QBs Ryan Fodor (Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. RB Mike McLeod (New Britain) was the New Haven Register's player of the year while OT Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, above photo) and DE Brendan Sponheimer (Orange) were all-state players before coming to Yale.

A Twist On An Old Rivalry

The is only the second time, and the first since 1913, that Yale plays both Lafayette and Lehigh in the same fall. The Bulldogs blanked Lafayette (27-0) and Lehigh (37-0) 93 years ago. The Mountain Hawks and Leopards have played each other more times (141) than anyone in college football history.

Bulldogs Love The Tube

Six of the 10 Yale games in 2006 will air live on TV, including five of the last six. The Buldogs are on YES twice and appear on WLVI/WGN, Comcast CN8 and CSTV.

Cornering The Rookie Market

RB Mike McLeod became Yale's second Ivy League Rookie of the Year in three seasons when he earned the 2005 honor. The Bulldogs have had three since DB Todd Tomich became the school's first in 1997. The league began selecting its top rookies in 1981 but an Eli was not selected until 1997. Yale has two newcomers (DB Paul Rice, P Tom Mante) on the current two-deep depth chart and both of them played in the first two games. Rice made a big pass breakup in the fourth quarter at Cornell.

Numbers Don't Lie

Yale Strength & Conditioning Coach Emil Johnson put the Elis to the test the first two days of practice and there were some interesting results. The following players topped the charts: DT Brandt Hollander (hang clean, 368.5 1bs); FB Stephen Morse (bench, 445 lbs); WR Jarrett Drake (vertical jump, 35.5"); LB Jason Palumbo (40-yard, 4.6 sec.); Mike McLeod (dips, 52); and Jimmy Lewis (pullups, 32).

Survey Says...

Yale players were surveyed about each other the day they returned to campus and here are the results: Hardest Working (Jordan Spence followed by Brandt Hollander); Funniest (Steve Bassermann for the 3rd straight year); Smartest (Ed McCarthy, Jimmy Lewis); Most Athletic (Mike McLeod, Ashley Wright); Best Leader other than captain (Ed McCarthy, Kevin Littleton); Strongest (Brandt Hollander by landslide); Toughest (Larry Abare, Brandt Hollander); Best Musician (Mike McGinity); and Most Likely to Become U.S. President (Steve Bassermann, Kevin Littleton).

All Those Interceptions

Defensively, the Bulldogs had a lot to look forward to with two seniors returning who picked off five passes each in 2005. Then both SS Nick Solakian and LB Lee Driftmier, who also combined for 154 tackles, had surgery and are out for the season.

McCarthy Trio

It's not an Irish band but it's the most popular last name on the Yale roster this fall. The McCarthys, Ed the OT and DL brothers Kevin and Tom, are one of the five last names shared by multiple members of the team. There are at least two Yale players each with the following names: Wright, Spence (brothers Jordan and Rylan), Johnson, Coombs (brothers John and Matt) and Abare (identical twins Bobby and Larry).

Looking Ahead

Yale completes its three-game road trip with an important Ivy date at Dartmouth next Saturday. The Big Green, which ran into the nation's No. 1 team in I-AA last week (56-14 vs. New Hampshire), are 0-2 under Buddy Teevens. The Bulldogs get their first look at the renovated Memorial Field with its new synthetic surface.

No 1:00 Kickoffs at the Bowl

The normal starting time for games at Yale Bowl over the last 50 years has been 1 p.m., with recent Ivy League rules mandating no later than 12:30 kicks when daylight savings time begins. 2006 marks the first deviation from Yale's tradition, and it had nothing to do with last year's season finale playing on into dusk. USD asked for an earlier start to accommodate its travel needs, while YES Network and CN8 asked for earlier starts as well. Since the Nov. 11 game has to start before 1 p.m., it made sense for Yale officials to move up the remaining (Lehigh) game for consistency.

Yale Still Leads the Nation

Yale has not won a national football title since 1927, but the Bulldogs still have more championships (26) than any other school in the country. Notre Dame is second with 11 national titles. In addition, the Elis were the first collegiate football team to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.

All In The Family

Senior Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, Conn.) was Yale's OL MVP eight times last year and took week No. 1 honors this season. McCarthy, the 2003 Ivy Rookie of the Year as an OG and a second-team all-league center in 2004, was first-team All-Ivy at LT last fall. He is a pre-season All-America pick who has been getting looked at by pro scouts this fall. McCarthy's father, Rick, and uncle, Ed, played for the Bulldogs. He is the only offensive lineman in league history to earn rookie of the year honors.

Catching Bulldogs At Practice

The normal practice week is from Tuesday through Friday, 4:15 to 6:15. Note that Friday times could be altered on travel days. Practice is held on the fields behind the baseball stadium and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center. Players might be available for interviews before/after practice around the Smilow Center or out on the fields. It is best to email Steve Conn to arrange a meeting at least a day before you would like to speak with a player.

Home Cooking in the Bowl

Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard before a full house, the Bulldogs have gone 352-186-21 (559 games) in Yale Bowl. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 115-73-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home.

Galiette Luncheon at Yale Golf Course

The weekly Dick Galiette Football Media Luncheon was named last fall to honor the late voice of Yale Football. This Tuesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by FB Taylor Craig and DT Kirk Porter. Listen to the Galiette Luncheon interviews on Don Boyle's sportingnewsct.com.

Yale Bowl Restoration

The restoration of Yale Bowl is nearly complete with a number of additions planned in the near future. The playing surface has been named the Class of '54 Field to honor the majority gift for the project from former Yale football player Charlie Johnson and his class. One of the additions will be the Jensen Family Plaza, which will be located on the walkway to the Bowl from Central Avenue, and honors the Jensen brothers: Irving '54, Colin '57, Erik '63 and Mark '67. The welcoming plaza will serve as the perfect place for fans to gather before and after games. The Kenney Family Field Center, which includes renovations to the exisiting field center and halftime room and additional special event space, will also be completed in the next phase of Bowl renovations. It honors the Kenney brothers: Jerry P. '63, Brian R. '60, Robert D. '67 and Richard L. '71, and a son, Jeffrey S. '93.

Father of American Football

For the eighth straight season, the Walter Camp Football Foundation honors Yale's game MVP as the Walter Camp Yale Player of the Game. This award is handed out both at home and on the road and captain Chandler Henley (6 catches) earned the honor against USD. Mike McLeod took week No. 2 honors with three TDs at Cornell. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others.

Leaders Play for Yale

The Yale football team has always produced leaders of all types on and off the field and this year is no exception. The 2006 roster includes 67 players who captained their high school gridiron squads and 45 people who captained other teams. Eight members of this year's team were senior class valedictorians and two were salutatorians.

Radio, Internet, Home Page and Hotline

NEWS/TALK 960 WELI broadcasts Yale football this fall on 960-AM. You can also listen on TEAMLINE by calling 800-846-4700 and entering Yale's code (5682). WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party. WYBC (1340-AM), the Yale student station, also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show that includes an interview with Eli head coach Jack Siedlecki. Sports Coordinator Anthony Brooks and Director of Football Broadcasts Bob Heussler lead a talented student staff. Yale games can be heard live on the internet at www.960WELI.com and www.wybc.com. The latest scores and game information from Yale varsity athletics are available by calling 432-YALE. The Yale Sports Hotline is sponsored by Barnes & Noble at Yale University, which is located on Broadway. Call 1-888-730-YALE for a copy of the store's fall catalog.

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