In last season’s opener against Georgetown, head football coach Jack Siedlecki acknowledged that his team didn’t come out firing on all cylinders, describing the performance as “sluggish.”
What a difference a year makes.
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Under blue skies and in perfect football weather, the Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) played almost to perfection in their 47-7 rout of the Hoyas (1-2) in their 2008 season opener on Saturday.
“For an opening game, it was the way you want an opening game to go,” Siedlecki said. “We got a lot of guys to play. We got to look at a lot of people and do a lot of things.”
The passing game, with the quarterback duo of Ryan Fodor ’09 and Brook Hart ’11 splitting time, was as good as any Yale attack in recent memory. The tandem combined to go 24-33 for 361 yards and four touchdowns and led a Yale offense that gained almost 500 yards of total offense.
Each quarterback asserted himself right off the bat with passes to an uncovered Jordan Forney ’11 down the sideline. Fodor threw a 61-yard pass to Forney on Yale’s first play from scrimmage, and Hart threw a 41-yard strike of his own to Forney in his first play as a varsity quarterback.
“It was a nice way to start the season off, I think,” Fodor said jokingly.
Fodor ended his first drive as a starter on the third play with his first career touchdown to Forney for 21 yards.
After a three-and-out in the second series, Fodor led a 12-play, 72-yard drive that concluded with a Tom Mante ’10 39-yard field goal — his first collegiate attempt — to make it 10-0, Yale, with 14:15 remaining in the second quarter.
From there Hart took over for the rest of the half. After his first drive culminated in a missed field goal from 38 yards out, Hart threw his first touchdown to fullback Shebby Swett ’09 for five yards to end a 12-play, 50-yard drive that lasted 6:48.
For Swett, who first got to Yale in 2003 and missed two seasons while on a Mormon mission, it was also his first career touchdown.
Mante’s second made field goal of the day as the first half expired extended the Yale lead to 20-0 at the break.
Hart led the next Bulldog scoring drive again after a Steven Santoro ’09 interception and 32-yard return put the ball on the Georgetown 13 yard line. The southpaw needed just one play to put six more on the board, finding Forney in the end zone for a 13-yard pass play. The Mante extra point made it 27-0.
Forney was a go-to guy for both signal callers, catching four passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. H-back John Sheffield ’10 led the team with six receptions for 65 yards.
“We’ve just been practicing so much with the both of them that we’ve got the timing down and we just saw that we have two great quarterbacks that are able to make plays,” Forney said. “They make our jobs easy because they put the ball where it needs to be every time.”
Unlike last season, the Bulldogs looked to throw the ball first yesterday rather than exclusively depending on Mike McLeod ’09 to move the ball downfield.
The senior running back was productive but did not put up his usual spectacular numbers, rushing 22 times for 78 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that extended Yale’s lead to 40-7. The 21-yard touchdown was the New Britain, Conn., native’s 50th at Yale. Earlier in the game, McLeod had a 28-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding call.
While the offense was doing things not seen last season, the Eli defense continued to do what it did for most of last year — shutting down the opposition.
After the Hoyas were reasonably successful with their option attack and through the air on the first couple drives, the Bulldog defense stiffened up, allowing just 230 Hoya yards for the contest, most of which came late in the game in garbage time. Georgetown was held to only 46 rushing yards on 31 carries — good for a 1.5-yards-per-carry average.
The Elis were able to apply constant pressure on both Hoya quarterbacks — Kerrome Lawrence and James Brady — picking up three sacks, nine tackles for loss and three interceptions.
The final of those three picks was brought back 60 yards by defensive back Adam Money ’11 for a touchdown to make it a 33-0 Yale lead with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Joe Hathaway ’09 recorded two sacks, and captain Bobby Abare ’09 had seven solo tackles to lead the Elis.
“Once our defense kind of got through the first series, got their legs under them and got running around, we were fine,” Siedlecki said. “They really had trouble containing our D-linemen. It just seemed like they got a five-yard gain and the next play we were in there sacking them or throwing them for a loss. Their offense really had a lot of trouble handling our guys up front.”
The Bulldogs will take their show on the road next Saturday when they head to Ithaca, NY, to open Ivy play against Cornell (1-0, 0-0 Ivy).
The Big Red will be coming off a solid 21-20 road opening victory over previously undefeated Bucknell (2-1).