FOOTBALL | Bulldogs fall to Harvard

Running back Tyler Varga '15 boasted 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Despite his performance, Yale lost 34–24.
Running back Tyler Varga '15 boasted 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Despite his performance, Yale lost 34–24. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

Harvard was a 33-point favorite over the Elis coming into the 129th playing of The Game. In rivalries like these, however, Yale proved that predictions mean nothing.

Yale (2–8, 1–6 Ivy) stuck with Harvard (8–2, 5–2) for 60 minutes but ultimately fell 34–24. The Cantabs extended their recent string of successes over the Bulldogs, winning for the sixth straight year.

Yale battled the Crimson to a 3–3 tie at the halftime break. The defense started the day on a high note when linebacker Dylan Drake ’13 sacked Crimson quarterback Colton Chapple on the second play from scrimmage.

Although Yale was forced to punt on its first ensuing drive, the Eli defensive front was again able to break through Harvard’s protection on the next drive. Linebacker Will McHale ’13 downed Chapple 11 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

The Crimson managed just two first downs in the opening quarter, but a strong showing by its defense limited the Bulldogs to just three first downs. Quarterback Derek Russell ’13 was under center for the first time since playing against Penn a month ago.

Yale struck first with 00:21 left in the first quarter. Kicker Philippe Panico ’13 gave Yale a 3–0 lead with a 29-yard field goal.

Kicker David Mothander responded on Harvard’s next drive, splitting the uprights from 23 yards to knot the game up at three. Neither team was able to score for the rest of the half, thanks in part to penalties on Harvard’s offensive line. Three false starts were called on Harvard in the first two quarters. The Crimson racked up a total of seven penalties for 55 yards before the break.

The third quarter saw the scoring pick up, starting with 37-yard field goal by Mothander to put Harvard up 6–3 with 8:53 remaining in the third. After the Cantabs forced a Yale punt, Chapple drove Harvard 63 yards on seven plays for the game’s first touchdown. Passing for 28 yards on the drive, Chapple took it himself with an 18-yard scoring run at the 4:51 mark in the third quarter.

Although Russell completed all seven of his passes in the first half, Yale’s offense was unable to stretch the field. That changed when Reno put Henry Furman ’14 back at quarterback. Furman immediately showed off his arm, finding a diving wide receiver Cam Sandquist ’14 over the middle for 46 yards on his first drive.

Running back Tyler Varga ’15 then took over as Yale’s signal caller and found the end zone two plays later when he froze Harvard’s defense with a pump fake, then ran in to cut the lead to 13–10.

A three-and-out by Harvard left Yale with the ball on its own 29-yard line. The Elis then opened up the final quarter of play with a 12-yard touchdown strike from Furman to wide receiver Grant Wallace ’15. Furman was flushed from the pocket, but he threw on the run and Wallace came to meet the ball for the score and a 17–13 Yale lead.

Harvard took the lead right back in just 1:35 when Chapple finished a 5-play, 64-yard drive with a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Andrew Berg.

Yale was unable to get a first down and punted, but nose guard Nick Daffin ’13 intercepted Chapple on Harvard’s 33. Yale battled its way down the field to set up third and goal on Harvard’s 2-yard line, then Varga rushed up the gut for a touchdown. Yale took a 24–20 lead with 7:07 to go, but the Cantabs were not done.

Chapple broke free on a 61-yard dash, but defensive back Collin Bibb ’13 tripped him up at the Yale 9 to prevent a touchdown. Yale appeared to have kept Harvard out of the end zone when linebacker Ryan Falbo ’13 knocked down a pass on fourth and eight, but he was flagged for defensive holding and Harvard was awarded a new first down at Yale’s 4.

The Elis paid for the penalty two plays later when Chapple hit tight end Cameron Brate in the back of the end zone to put Harvard up 27–24 at the 4:44 mark.

After Furman’s pass was tipped on second down, Sandquist was dragged down for no gain on third down and the Elis punted on fourth and four from deep within their own territory.

Harvard’s drive started off with false start to back the Crimson up, but running back Treavor Scales was able to pick up two first downs, the second going for 63 yards and a touchdown. Scales’ run iced the game by putting up 34–24 with just 1:08 left.

Yale’s attempt at a comeback ended when the ball landed in Crimson defensive back Reynaldo Kirton’s hands for an interception.

Varga led the Elis with 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns and Furman went 13–20 passing for 158 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

The Elis lead the overall series 65–56–8.

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