The football team coughed up a first-half lead over the weekend, falling to Dartmouth in the Bulldogs’ second Ivy loss this season.
The Big Green overcame a 14–13 halftime deficit to defeat the Bulldogs 34–14 on Saturday at the Yale Bowl. Yale (1–3, 0–2 Ivy) lost to Dartmouth (3–1, 1–1 Ivy) for the first time since 2002, ending a streak of nine straight wins.
In the first half, running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 and quarterback Eric Williams ’16 both ran on fourth downs to move the chains for the Elis and set up a field goal attempt from the Dartmouth 18. Trailing 10–7, head coach Tony Reno decided to go for the lead instead. Holder and backup quarterback Derek Russell ’13 took the snap and found linebacker Dylan Drake ’13 in the end zone for the score.
“Derek threw a great pass,” Drake said. “I guess I had the easy part of catching it. It was just exhilarating to make that touchdown catch.”
Drake said it was his first reception since his junior year of high school, as well as his first offensive touchdown ever. The play was also Russell’s first varsity touchdown pass for the Bulldogs. The trick play helped Yale to a 14–13 halftime advantage.
Throughout the game, Reno led aggressive fourth down plays. He decided to “go for it” on seven fourth down plays despite making that decision just six times in the previous three games combined.
“I have a lot of faith in our offense that we can convert on those plays,” Reno said.
That confidence was not misplaced in the first half, as the Bulldogs converted all three attempts. After the break, however, Yale’s luck on the final down ran out. Yale’s first four drives ended in turnovers on downs. The Big Green took advantage, finding the end zone on three of the resulting possessions and missing a 35-yard field goal on the other.
The Elis were stopped on all four of their fourth down tries in the second half. Running back Tyler Varga ’16 and his 5.8 yards per carry were sorely missed on those fourth down plays, as he did not dress due to eligibility concerns. According to a University statement released Saturday, Varga was withheld pending clarification from the NCAA regarding his transfer from a Canadian university. Varga transferred to Yale after one year at the University of Western Ontario.
Bearing the brunt of the load without Varga, Cargill carried the ball 25 times for 96 yards. Williams was 17–24 throwing for 181 yards and a score with no turnovers.
Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens stated that the Big Green defense began to expect the fourth down fakes.
“I give them tremendous credit,” Teevens said. “It was very imaginative special teams play … we defensed them. We’ve seen some of [the plays] before.”
Yale will try for its first win at the Bowl this year against Lafayette next Saturday.
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