Last week, head coach Tom Williams called the state of his special teams a crisis. This week, he handed his field goal unit the ball with three seconds left on the clock and with Yale and Dartmouth (2-2, 0-2 Ivy) tied, 20-20.
Kicker Phillipe Panico ’13, who had missed the first two field goal attempts of his collegiate career earlier in the game, rose to the challenge — but just barely. He bounced a 19-yard field goal off the right field goal post and in, as the Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) left Hanover with a 23-20 victory.
Defensive back Chris Stanley ’11 made Yale’s last drive possible when he stripped the ball from star Dartmouth running back Nick Schweiger with less than two minutes left in the game. That was only one of two crucial takeaways Stanley registered in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the frame, he wrestled a pass away from Dartmouth receiver Michael Reilly — who had already burned the Bulldogs with over 100 yards receiving on the day — in the endzone for a game-changing interception.
The Bulldogs received a solid effort from quarterback Patrick Witt ’12, who shook off numerous hits and completed 28 of 37 passes for 238 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
The touchdown went to fullback Shane Bannon, who led the Bulldogs in catches with six for 41 yards. He had caught only two passes for 13 yards in his three previous games this season.
“Shane makes great catches and has great hands,” said Witt. “Every time I see number 37 out there I’m going to throw him the ball.”
Witt also got help from running back Mordecai Cargill ’13, who stormed back after missing last week’s game with an injury to take over for Alex Thomas, who missed half of the game after an injury of his own in the first half. Cargill raced for 126 yards on 18 attempts.
“Last week I had to sit out and it was hard for me to stand on the sidelines and see my teammates give their all and still come up a little short,” said Cargill. “As I was coming off the field I vowed to myself that if I could walk I was going to play.”
Cargill suffered some big hits as the Yale offensive line struggled to make up for the absence of two of its starters. Their inexperience showed when Yale took four holding calls — including three on one set of downs — in the fourth quarter, but Witt and Cargill’s strong play, Stanley’s strong defense, and a Javi Sosa ’13 touchdown sprint on his second ever collegiate carry kept the Bulldogs in the game until Panico’s kick.
Yale’s next game is against Fordham at the Yale Bowl next Saturday.