FOOTBALL | Elis fade in second half

The Bulldogs failed to revive last season’s 30-0 big win.
The Bulldogs failed to revive last season’s 30-0 big win. Photo by Sara Miller.

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.

Contact charles condro at


  • EliFBfan

    It’s certainly official now, the entire football season is going to be sacrificed in a continued attempt to discredit the departed Tom Williams and make him the cause for the “culture change” Reno uses as an excuse for every poor decision made thus far.

    Reno’s plan for the season was made crystal clear when he abandoned the experienced QB Whitelaw in favor of the freshman QB Williams who has certainly proven himself “not close to ready” to play at the college level and in fact may be the team’s biggest liability. Whitelaw is not the only “non-Reno recruit” that’s been kicked to the curb during Reno’s self-described “culture change.”

    Reno’s goal is obviously NOT putting the best players on the field, so what’s the goal here?

    • sonofmory

      Williams was 17–24 throwing for 181 yards and a score with no turnovers. that seems pretty close to ready….

    • eli1

      I have actually been pleasantly surprised by Williams play, and actually think he is a better player than Whitelaw, who is really not that good. Also, the problem with this years team is that the defense is absolutely pathetic. This has been the worst defense at Yale in the past 10 years by far. You can’t give up 30+ points per game and expect to win, no matter who is playing qb.

  • Yalie

    So, what exactly happened with Varga?

    • eli1

      Second this…this is a huge story yet I have heard nothing from anyone about it. Where are you YDN?? Get us the details. The fact that he was held out the 4th game of the season shows us how awful the athletic department is. Looks like some investigating would be useful.

  • FrederickMiller

    Since Yale doesn’t seem to get much publicity on football games in local papers and on TV, I’m hoping that Yale may make some of the games available to us grads in spite of the fact that major stations ignore us. Any information you can forward to help us keep up-to-date as the games are being played – or at least get a better picture of what happened the next day?

    Fred Miller, Y48

  • observer

    Why hasn’t the YDN covered to Varga eligibility story? It is amazing that you didn’t consider this newsworthy!

  • observer

    According to FoxSports, Yale improperly tried to classify him as a freshman. After playing a full year of football in Canada, he should have been considered a sophomore transfer.

  • BlueDevil

    I realize that there are a lot of entertainment options in scenic New Haven, but the attendance looks embarrassing.

  • observer

    Isn’y Varga’s situation similar to that of THIS guy who transferred to Columbia and was allowed to play immediately?

  • Boogs

    Yale claimed 119,000 in attendance in 2011 for 5 home games. Of that number, 55,000 were from The Game. So, simple math means that, outside The Game, there’s an average of 16,000 people in attendance at the other four games. I am NOT buying that…