Down to its fourth-string quarterback, and with just one more incompletion than interception in the second half, the Yale football team seemed to be out of hope as its contest against Brown wound down.
But one last drive led by Logan Scott ’14 brought the Bulldogs to the edge of field goal range, and Deon Randall ’15 took a third and ten handoff 32 yards to the house, electrifying the crowd at the Yale Bowl and delivering a stunning 24–17 win for the Elis.
Brown swung for the fences on its first play of the game, running a flea flicker pass, but Brown quarterback Patrick Donnelly’s attempt was too long, and the Bears were eventually forced to punt.
Yale’s opening possession went just as the coaches drew it up. Two third down conversions from quarterback Hank Furman ’14 kept the Bulldogs’ drive going, and halfback Candler Rich ’17 took a screen pass from Furman 35 yards to the house.
The Bears responded by marching down the field. Donnelly found his tight end for two straight first downs, and a pass interference penalty set Brown up at the Yale 23. But after a crucial drop on third down, Brown kicker Alex Norocea missed a 33-yard field goal, his first miss of the season, and Yale took over at the 20.
A quick three-and-out for the Bulldogs allowed the Bears to take over at the Yale 46, and five plays later, Brown struck. Donnelly threw a rollout pass on the money to Tellef Lundevall and, after the extra point, the game was knotted at seven.
Furman quickly led the Yale offense on another scoring drive. He ran twice for 13 yards and completed four passes for 49 yards, including a third down strike to receiver Myles Gaines ’17, who dragged his feet in the end zone for a touchdown.
After the touchdown, Yale’s bend-but-don’t-break defense came through again, this time stopping the Bears on fourth down inside the Yale 30 after it stuffed reigning Ivy 100-meter dash champion John Spooney on third down.
The Bulldogs and the Bears then traded three consecutive punts before the Elis caught a break. Brown converted a third and 14 early on its drive and steadily moved to the Yale 21, but Spooney then dropped a handoff and Yale recovered the loose ball.
The Bulldogs could get nothing going with Morgan Roberts ’16 in at quarterback, however, and they punted to the Brown with 17 seconds left after a drive during which Roberts sustained a leg injury.
But Bears return man Alex Jette fumbled the fair catch, and Yale pounced on it. After Eric Williams ’16, who replaced Roberts at quarterback, hit Rich for twelve yards, kicker Kyle Cazzetta ’15 nailed a career-long 46-yard field goal to give the Elis a ten point lead at the half. It was Cazzetta’s third 46-yard kick of the season.
Williams came back out to start at quarterback for Yale in the second half, but after a first down, the Bulldogs’ drive stalled. Brown’s subsequent drive also failed after a sack from defensive end Marty Moesta ’17.
Though Roberts returned at quarterback, he promptly turned over the ball on an ill-advised third down pass that was intercepted. Brown quickly responded with a methodical 12 -play drive that culminated in a touchdown pass from Donnelly to Jordan Evans.
With the extra point, Brown cut the Yale lead to 17-14 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
Yale switched quarterbacks yet again, with Williams starting the drive at the 50 following a solid return. But an underthrown pass was intercepted, and it took a great stand from the Bulldogs’ defense inside the Yale 10-yard line to force a 26-yard Brown field goal. The three points tied the game at 17 all.
The Yale offense remained unable to move the ball, producing two straight three-and-outs that sandwiched a Brown three-and-out
The Bears gained possession at their own 25. Two first downs on the ground for Spooney moved Brown to the 49-yard line, but the Bulldog defense held and forced an incomplete pass on third down.
Yale caught a break on its next drive, when an interception was called back by a roughing the passer penalty. After the penalty, Scott came in at signal caller and moved the team into Brown territory, only to be undone by a false start and an incomplete pass.
Spooney again carried to the brink of a first down, but the Elis held, dropping him for a loss of two on third and one and ultimately taking over at their 35-yard line. Another false start penalty negated the four yards picked up on first down, and Scott proved unable to move the chains.
After a Brown three-and-out, the Bulldogs started their drive with 1:43 left at their 41-yard line. Scott completed a pass to Randall for nine yards on second down, and Candler Rich ’17 charged ahead for five yards and a first down.
After two passes from Scott made it third and one, Khalil Keys ’15 took the carry and converted. A spike and an incomplete pass downfield ensued, bringing up third and 10 from the Brown 32.
Then came the play that may have saved the Bulldogs’ season. Randall took the ball from Scott on a handoff and burst up the middle for 32 yards and a touchdown to take the lead 24-17 with 19 seconds left.
After a last-ditch Brown Hail Mary attempt was batted down in the end zone, Yale officially walked away with the victory. The Bulldogs remain in contention for the Ivy League championship.
Donnelly finished with 262 passing yards and a pair of touchdown passes, while Spooney rushed for 125 yards on 27 carries.
Next Saturday, Yale travels to face Princeton, who is undefeated in Ivy play and will be looking to clinch at least a share of the Ivy championship. The game is at 1:00 pm.