The road to the Ivy League championship just got tougher for the Yale football team.
Despite a comeback in the second half, the Bulldogs (4–4, 3–2) could not erase a 13-point halftime deficit, falling to Brown (7–1, 4–1 Ivy) 34–28 Saturday at the Yale Bowl. The Bears defense, ranked third in the Football Championship Subdivision entering the game, proved too strong for the Blue and White offense to overcome.
With the loss, the Elis drop to third place in the Ancient Eight. Brown and Penn are tied for second with only a single loss in league play while Harvard cemented its grip on the top with a 35 – 21 victory over the winless Columbia.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” head coach Tom Williams said. “In a game of that magnitude, we turned the ball over too many times. We didn’t take advantage of good field positions and score.”
After punting away their first possession, the Bulldogs pinned Brown down at its one-yard line but could not contain the Bears’ offense.
On third and six from his own 5-yard line, Brown tailback Mark Kachmer broke off a 95-yard touchdown run behind blocks by fullback Jackson Freeman and wideout Tellef Lundevall. The play set a Brown record for the longest play from the line of scrimmage.
The Bulldogs responded immediately on their next possession, driving 80 yards downfield in just six plays. Quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 snuck into the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the year.
Then the Bears defense settled down, and Yale did not score again until the third quarter.
The Bears’ second touchdown of the game came after a questionable penalty against the Bulldogs. On third and nine from the Yale 34, wide receiver Jimmy Saros cut across the middle and ran into linebacker Jordan Haynes ’12, who dropped back in coverage. The referee immediately whistled Haynes for pass interference, moving the Bears into the red zone. Quarterback Kyle Newton-Caballero threw a 19-yard touchdown strike to Saros on the next play.
“The explanation I got from the official was that the offensive player was trying to come back to the ball and our guy was in the way,” Williams said. “I thought we had the right to that space.”
Newton-Caballero struck again with 1:28 left in the first half, throwing a 6-yard score to a wide-open Jonah Fay in the back of the end zone.
After the offense stalled on its first drive of the third quarter, Bears’ punter Nate Lovett fired a 42-yard punt that pinned the Bulldogs at their two-yard line. A three-and-out forced Kyle Cazzetta ’14 to punt on the nine-yard line. But Brown’s Adam Pelzer partially blocked the kick, which traveled just 12 yards to the Yale 21.
“Those were big momentum plays,” Williams said. “I thought their punter did a great job kicking the ball all day.”
Five plays later, Kachmer took a direct snap, ran to the right and dived into the end zone, giving the Bears a 27–7 lead.
Wide receiver Chris Smith ’13 returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to the Elis’ 43-yard line. Smith returned five kickoffs for 93 yards, becoming Yale’s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage. However, Smith hobbled off the field in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and walked around with a boot after the game.
Less than a minute after Smith’s return, Witt threw a 40-yard strike to Jackson Liguori ’14 at the Bears’ six-yard line. Five plays after that, Liguori reeled in his first collegiate touchdown reception on a fade route, catching the ball over his shoulder.
The Elis had a golden scoring opportunity to begin the fourth quarter. Brandis Yarrington ’14 recovered a muffed punt inside Brown’s red zone. However, the Bulldogs could not put any point on the board as a 31-yard field goal attempt by Philippe Panico ’13 sailed wide left.
“It’s really difficult to get so close and not covert,” guard Colin Kruger ’12 said. “That was a disappointing turn of events right there.”
A fumble by Gio Christodoulou ’12 on a punt return gave the Bears possession on the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, an undefended Kachmer raced into the end zone and caught a two-yard touchdown from Newton-Caballero, putting Brown ahead 34–14. Kachmer finished the game with 19 carries for 195 yards and three total touchdowns. Newton-Caballero went 22 of 41 for 224 yards and three scores.
The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns on their next possessions, but the 20-point deficit was too much to overcome.
“They were a few times out there when we saw that we were going to have another chance,” defensive end Austin Pulsipher ’12 said. “That was rough to…let that slip through our fingers.”
Witt drove 69 yards downfield before tucking in the ball and running for his second rushing score of the game. On the next possession, Witt threw a screen pass to Mordecai Cargill ’13, who then rumbled down the right side for the touchdown.
Witt finished the game with 34 for 46 with 370 yards and four total touchdowns. But the senior signal caller also threw costly interceptions on two consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times in the course of the game.
“[The turnovers are] extremely frustrating,” Williams said. “To have those things crop up in the biggest game of our season is a head scratcher for me. I have to figure out a way to reach out to our guys so we can execute with poise.”
After consecutive 200-yard rushing performance, the Elis’ ground attack sputtered on Saturday with a lifeless seven yards on 24 carries.
The Bears gave the Bulldogs a final slimmer of hope when Newton-Caballero fumbled the snap while in victory formation. The referees initially signaled a Yale recovery but waved off their initial decision seconds later.
“At this point, I want to fix the problems that cropped up today and go back to work on being a solid football team,” Williams said. “We don’t have any control over our own destiny as it relates to the Ivy League title.”
The Bulldogs will travel to New Jersey to take on the Princeton Tigers next Saturday.