For Yale fans, 2009 was The Game that got away. Despite the Bulldogs entering with a 4-5 overall record in head coach Tom Williams’ first season, it took a late Crimson comeback to give Harvard a 14-10 victory.
On their first possession, the Bulldogs used seven carries for 35 yards from Alex Thomas ’12 to drive the ball down the field to set up Alex Barnes ’11 for a 26-yard field goal attempt. Thomas went on to have a breakout game and finish with 124 yards on 26 carries. Barnes made the kick and gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. On the ensuing Crimson possession, Eli linebacker Tim Handlon ’10 hit Harvard quarterback Collier Winters, forcing a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Adam Money ’11 at the Yale 41. The Bulldogs took advantage by taking the ball down to the Harvard three-yard line from where running back Rodney Reynolds ’10 ran in his first career touchdown to give the Elis a 10-point advantage. The score would remain 10-0 until midway through the fourth quarter when Winters fired a 41 yard touchdown pass to receiver Matt Luft. Yale took possession on the kickoff, but the drive stalled, and they faced a 4th and 22 at their own 25. Instead of punting, captain and linebacker Paul Rice ’10 took the snap and pitched the ball to safety John Powers ’13. However, Powers was stopped five yards short of the first down. Harvard retaliated three plays later when Winters hit receiver Chris Lorditch for a 32-yard touchdown strike. Yale was left with 1:30 to score, but Witt, who finished with 170 yards passing, threw his first interception of the day to linebacker Jon Takamura, ending the Bulldogs’ hope for victory.
In a matchup with Ivy League title implications, Yale failed to get anything going offensively in bitterly cold and windy conditions, as the Bulldogs fell 10-0 to Harvard.
Yale kicked off to start the game and were able to force the Crimson to punt from the Harvard 29. Harvard punter Thomas Hull boomed the ball down to the Yale 13 where Eli returner Gio Christodoulou ’11 allowed the ball to bounce in front of him and be covered by a Crimson player. As the Yale offense began to take the field, the field judge ruled that Christodoulou had touched the ball, and Harvard should retain possession. Despite numerous Bulldog arguments to the contrary, the ruling was upheld. The Crimson took control and ran the ball three times, capped by a four-yard Gino Gordon touchdown rush. The score remained 7-0 Harvard throughout the first half.
On Harvard’s first possession of the second half, Crimson quarterback Chris Pizzotti lost the football, and it was recovered by cornerback Adam Money ’11. However, the Bulldogs could not advance the ball, and were forced to punt. After two more punts, Harvard took control at midfield and drove the ball for a Patrick Long field goal. Harvard would take a 10-0 lead and the game would end that way as the Bulldogs could only create 90 yards of total offense.
2007 had all the pre-game genre anyone could ask for, with both the Elis and Crimson undefeated in the Ivy League. Heading into The Game with a 9-0 record, Yale was searching for an Ivy League championship and its first perfect season since 1960, but Harvard overpowered the Bulldogs 37-6.
Barely a minute into The Game as quarterback Chris Pizzotti rifled a 40 yard touchdown pass to receiver Matt Luft. From that point on, the Crimson never looked back. Pizzotti and Luft hooked up for another touchdown to finish a 58-yard drive at the end of the first quarter. Yale running back Mike McLeod ’09 could not convert a 4th-and-2, and Harvard once given the ball once again. McLeod, the Payton Award finalist, finished with 20 carries for just 50 yards.
Harvard would dominate the remainder of the game, adding three more touchdowns and a field goal to extend their lead to 37-0. The lone bright spot for the Elis was Christodoulou’s 87-yard punt return for a touchdown with 4:15 remaining. The Bulldogs missed the extra point, and Harvard ran out the clock to take The Game and the Ivy League Championship.