After a year of turnover and turmoil for the Bulldogs in 2012, some old familiar faces led Yale to a season-opening romp on the gridiron in 2013.
Quarterback Hank Furman ’14 and tailback Tyler Varga ’15 ran all over Colgate as Yale legged out an emphatic 39–22 victory over the Raiders (0–4, 0–0 Patriot) in Hamilton, N.Y., on Saturday.
“I was proud of how the team came out in game one,” captain Beau Palin ’14 said. “But the best part of the game is that we have so much to improve on.”
In just his second career start under center for the Elis, Furman played like a salty veteran. The signal caller went 11–17 through the air for 129 yards, but he made an even bigger impact with his feet. Furman ran four times for 60 yards, with three of those carries taking the Elis into the end zone.
Furman was not the only Eli who had success on the ground, as Varga pummeled the Raider defense for a career-high 236 rushing yards and one touchdown. Indeed, one could be forgiven for asking, as the Baha Men did so elegantly some years ago: Who let the dogs out? Varga’s punishing between-the-tackles attack resulted in the third-highest rushing total in a single game in Yale history. Only tailback Mike McLeod ’09 ever ran for more yards in a single game for the Bulldogs.
The Elis looked like they were shot out of cannon in their season opener, ending the first quarter up 14–0, tacking on another six to make it 20–0 in the second quarter and ending the first half up 27–7. The explosive offensive performances from Varga and quarterback Furman helped bring Yale the powerful season opener it wanted.
“For the first game we were fairly happy with our performance, but there is a lot we can improve on,” wide receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 said. “We committed seven penalties and turned the ball over once. Cleaning up mental mistakes like that is a point of emphasis this week.”
Both Sandquist and Palin emphasized the team’s room for growth. In addition to two fumbles (one lost), the team allowed Colgate to climb out of a 20–0 hole and narrow the gap to 11 with 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Nonetheless, Yale put up an impressive 327 rushing yards to Colgate’s 200 and 210 passing yards to the Raiders’ 140. And the Bulldogs’ offense accounted for only one side of the team’s scoring. The squad’s first game of the season marked the return of kicker Kyle Cazzetta ’15, who expanded into the placekicker role after playing most of last year as a punter. The junior, who was placed on the College Football Performance Awards Watch List before the season, led the Elis in an impressive display of kicking prowess by knocking down both 30-yard and 46-yard field goals. The special teamer also nailed three of five extra points and kicked five punts for an average of 30.6 yards per attempt.
In addition to the Elis’ lightning offense, relentless defense also stopped the Raiders from scoring in the red zone. On Colgate’s final drive, Palin recovered a fumble on Yale’s four-yard line to cap the Raiders’ scoring at 22.
Linebacker Will Vaughan ’15 led the way for the Bulldogs with nine solo tackles. Defensive end Dylan Drake ’14 recorded the only sack of the day for the team, taking down Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney for a loss of four yards midway through the first quarter.
On the offensive end, Yale debuted quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16 during the second quarter. The much-discussed Clemson transfer threw for 66 yards on 8–15 passing with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Roberts took most of his snaps in the second half when Furman hobbled off the field early in the third quarter after being tackled hard on a quarterback keeper. Furman remained on the sideline and had his ankle taped up but did not return to the field.
Head coach Tony Reno said that he would know more about the extent of Furman’s injury later in the week, and that both players have earned the right to be on the field thus far.
“They’re both dual threat quarterbacks,” head coach Tony Reno said. “Throughout the preseason and the three scrimmages, they were in a dead heat. They both deserved playing time.”
The Elis will open their conference slate next Saturday at home against Cornell. Kickoff will occur at 12 p.m. at the Yale Bowl.