The Bulldogs went into the locker room at halftime with the lead, but Lafayette came back in the second half to deny Yale its first home win of the season.
Yale held a 10–7 advantage at the half, but Lafayette (4–2, 1–0 Patriot) stormed back to win 20-10 at the Yale Bowl this afternoon.
Quarterback Eric Williams ’16 threw two interceptions in the first quarter, but each time the Bulldog defense forced a punt on the ensuing Leopard drive.
Yale (1–4, 0–2 Ivy) opened the scoring 30 seconds into the second quarter when tight end Michael Leunen ’14 hauled in a 25-yard pass from Williams, then forced his way into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Lafayette quarterback Andrew Shoop’s 5-yard toss to fullback Greg Kessel knotted the score at seven apiece with 8:02 remaining until halftime. The Elis would retake the lead on the foot of kicker Philippe Panico ’13, who drilled a 24-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the half.
But the second half would be all Lafayette. After both teams traded punts at the start of the half, the Leopards drove 78 yards on a twelve-play drive that ended with a 10-yard Mark Ross touchdown reception.
Running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 drove the Elis forward with 21 rushing yards on the ensuing drive to set up third-and-one on the Lafayette 20, but center John Oppenheimer’s ’14 snap sailed over Williams’ head back to the 31-yard line. Panico’s try from 48 yards out had the distance but was wide right and Yale came away with no points.
After another three-and-out by the Leopard offense, Yale drove all the way to Lafayette’s 15, but Williams was intercepted by defensive back Shane Black for the second time on the day.
Yale was still within four when the defense sacked Shoop at the Yale 34 to set up fourth-and-twelve. Shoop was able to get the first down and more on the next play when he found Ross for a 32-yard pass to the Yale two. Two plays later, tailback Ross Sheuermann punched it in for the score. Defensive end Nick Daffin ’13 blocked the extra point attempt, but Lafayette had a 20-10 lead with 2:19 to go. Yale’s chances ended for the day when Williams was picked for the final time by linebacker Chris Brockman with 38 seconds remaining.
Williams threw a career-high four interceptions while his Lafayette counterpart Andrew Shoop passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Tyler Varga ’16 led the Bulldogs with 100 rushing yards in his return to the field. Yale had withheld Varga from last week’s 34-14 loss to Dartmouth while the NCAA investigated his eligibility following his transfer from the University of Western Ontario.
Cargill was right behind Varga, running for 98 yards on the day.
Yale will be at home for the fourth week in a row next Saturday against Penn (2-3, 2-0 Ivy).
Yale was informed by the NCAA today that running back Tyler Varga ’16 is eligible to play football for the Bulldogs this season.
“The University has worked closely with the Ivy League and the NCAA to obtain a waiver regarding [Varga’s] status as a transfer student from a Canadian University that resolved all eligibility issues,” Associate Athletics Director for Sports Publicity Steve Conn said in a statement.
Varga was held out of last week’s 34–14 loss to Dartmouth after the University received word that his eligibility had been called into question by the NCAA the night before.
Varga played for the University of Western Ontario last season. He was named the Canadian Intervarsity Sports Rookie of the Year after rushing for 799 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Since Varga received athletic scholarship money as a student athlete for Western Ontario, he was eligible for the FCS one-time transfer exception. The exception allows players to waive the one year in residence requirement when transferring from a scholarship institution to one that does not support athletic scholarships.
Varga will return to the field at noon tomorrow as the Bulldogs host Lafayette.
Hold on to the football: In the two games the team has played this season, Yale has coughed the ball up nine times. An early interception and fumble gave Cornell all the momentum in the Elis’ blowout loss to the Big Red last week. In quarterback Eric Williams’ ’16 defense, he is only two games into his collegiate career and several of the interceptions have not been his fault. One resulted from a busted screen play and several others were the result of tipped passes. The fact remains, however, that the Blue and White cannot expect to win many games if they continue to lead the Ancient Eight in turnovers. Opponents have cashed in on Yale’s mistakes — scoring 35 points on drives beginning with Bulldog turnovers. Not only are turnovers taking away scoring chances for the Elis, they are also putting points on the wrong side of the board. Taking care of the football could prove to make the difference tomorrow.
Hit the ground running: If there is one thing the Elis have shown they can do this year, it is run the football. The offensive line has done a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage, and Yale’s talented backfield has taken advantage — averaging 4.3 yards per carry in the two games this season. Mordecai Cargill ’13 says that he is good to go after leaving last weekend’s contest against Cornell with a shoulder injury, so he will join fellow backs Tyler Varga ’16 and Khalil Keys ’15 in the Yale Bowl tomorrow. Cargill and running backs coach Larry Ciotti call the trio the “three-headed monster,” and they will get an opportunity to wreak havoc on a Colgate defense that has given up 5.4 yards per rush so far this season.
Have faith in Williams: Last week’s game was one that everyone associated with Yale football would love to forget — being beaten by 39 points is nobody’s idea of a fun Saturday afternoon. But one positive aspect that head coach Tony Reno and several of his players pointed to was that the team kept fighting, and Williams was leading that charge. The rookie signal caller shook off two first-half interceptions and kept his composure. He showed poise in leading the Bulldogs down the field even though Yale had trouble finding the end zone. For now Yale will have to live with mistakes, like Williams’ tendency to stare down his receivers, but he has shown flashes of good things to come. Williams has a strong and accurate arm, is a dual-threat with his feet and demonstrates good decision-making when he has the football. If Williams gets the support he needs, he has the ability to lead Yale to victory.
It is a new week for Yale football as the Bulldogs take the field for their home opener.
The Elis (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) are looking to put last week’s 45-6 loss at Cornell behind them as they open play at the Yale Bowl against Colgate (1-3, 0-0 Patriot).
“We just have to correct the little things [for this week],” offensive lineman William Chism ’15 said. “The good news is that the effort was there.”
Despite the score last week, running back Mordecai Cargill ‘13 was impressed that the team did not give up against the Big Red. He added that previous teams he has been a part of at Yale might have stopped fighting last week, so the team’s resilence is a good sign for upcoming games.
The Raiders visit New Haven coming off their own disappointing loss. They came within one point but ultimately fell to Stony Brook 32-31 last Saturday.
Despite its three losses, Colgate has been outscored by only seven total points through four games this season. Coach Reno said that the Raiders have been in every game.
“[Colgate has] played three playoff football teams in the first four weeks,” Reno said. “You can make an argument that they could’ve won all of them.”
Reno cited Colgate’s balance as its strength and called the team Yale’s most balanced opponent to date. He added that they have a very “active” defense.
One weakness that Colgate has had this year is defending against the run. The Raiders have given up 5.4 yards per carry this season.
With the Bulldogs averaging 168 yards on the ground themselves, the matchup on the ground favors the Blue and White.
Although tomorrow will be the first game in the Yale Bowl for the class of 2016, defensive back Cole Champion ’16 said that Reno and the coaching staff have gotten them prepared for the atmosphere.
“I’m excited to get out there on a Saturday,” he said. “We’ve scrimmaged in there twice always so that will kind of help us get a feel for what it’s going to be like on Saturday.”
The Yale Bowl will not be the first big stage that Champion has played on. When Champion was playing for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida, his team traveled to Dallas to play in Cowboy Stadium.
The Bulldogs and Raiders will kick off at noon. Tomorrow will be Youth Day at the Bowl. All children participating in Youth Day will receive free admission to the game.
Almost four years ago, running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 ran for 99 yards and a touchdown to lead Glenville High School in Cleveland to a 30–6 victory over John Marshall High School. The win propelled Glenville to No. 9 in the ESPN Rise national rankings for Oct. 7, 2008.
Lounging while on duty at the Yale Laundry Service room in Swing Space, Cargill acknowledged that a lot has changed since his high school days in Cleveland.
“As a senior in high school I was a little bit wild and unrestrained,” Cargill said. “My coaches over the course of four years have kind of reined me in and taught me the intricacies of the position … how to read defenses, set up blocks.”
Cargill’s time at Yale was itself almost blocked. As National Signing Day came his senior season, Cargill had not even heard from Yale. He said that he was considering a postgraduate year at the Hun School in Princeton, N.J., in order to try and play for an Ivy League school the next year.
Then Cargill answered a phone call, and on the other end was Yale’s former head coach Tom Williams. It was a call, Cargill said, “[that] basically changed my life.”
Williams has since been replaced, but new head coach Tony Reno is impressed with the player and leader that Williams left behind.
“He’s got the ability to run people over and he’s got the ability to run by people,” Reno said. “Very few guys have that ability.”
Reno added that Cargill has good vision and makes his cuts well, but it is Cargill’s leadership that is most impressive. According to Reno, Cargill has put the success of the team over his own personal achievements.
Cargill himself emphasized his desire to mentor the team’s younger running backs, continuing the tradition that helped him to learn his craft. Cargill’s efforts have not just been noticed by the coaching staff, offensive lineman William Chism ’15 said.
“It’s an honor blocking for Mo,” Chism said. “He inspires us, especially when things are going wrong.”
But back when Cargill arrived in New Haven as a freshman, he ran into blockers of a different sort — this time on the depth chart. Undeterred, Cargill took advantage of every chance he got. He averaged 3.9 yards his first two years while sharing carries with other running backs, including Alex Thomas ’12, and had a 126-yard performance against Dartmouth in 2010.
Cargill’s crowning achievement, however, came when Thomas was injured in Yale’s 37–25 loss to Penn last year. Playing in an October snowstorm at Columbia the next week, Cargill had the game of his life.
“There is a very real zone that you get in in certain situations,” Cargill said. “The weather was so bad that I just extracted myself from the situation — I was on autopilot.”
Cargill “autopiloted” to 230 yards on 42 carries, both career highs, as Yale defeated the Lions 16–13.
Even as a senior, Cargill has not asked for the spotlight. Reno said that rather than wanting all the carries, Cargill talks about the idea of a “three-headed monster” with tailbacks Tyler Varga ’16 and Khalil Keys ’15.
The result has been a Bulldog ground attack that has averaged 4.3 yards per carry this season.
It was no surprise, then, that Cargill, an unofficial leader, was elected by his teammates to officially represent the Blue and White in the season-opening coin toss at Georgetown on Sept. 15.
The Bulldogs will face Colgate at home on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were left seeing red on the gridiron yesterday in their first Ivy League game of the season.
Cornell (1–1, 1–0 Ivy) blew out Yale (1–1, 0–1 Ivy) 45–6 in the Ancient Eight opener in Ithaca, N.Y., on Saturday. The Big Red rode quarterback Jeff Mathews’ arm and four turnovers by the Blue and White to a big win on their home turf.
“[Mathews] is probably the best quarterback I’ve played against,” defensive back Nick Okano ’14 said. “If we made just a slight mistake … he’d thread the needle.”
Yale managed to stop Cornell on the opening drive after the Big Red drove into Eli territory, but Cornell got the ball right back when Cornell safety Andrew Nelson jumped a screen and picked off the pass from Eli quarterback Eric Williams ’16.
Cornell scored on the very next play on a run by tailback Luke Hagy to jump out to a 7–0 lead. Although that would be enough to win the game, Mathews and company did not stop there. Mathews threw for three, and Hagy ran for another as the Big Red took a big 35–0 lead by halftime.
Yale also lost running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 midway through the first half to a right shoulder injury. He did not return to the game, and Khalil Keys ’15 and Tyler Varga ’16 filled in for him in the backfield. Cargill said the two younger players did a great job running the ball.
“Our team mantra is ‘Next man up.’ We work hard at practice and compete every day to make sure everyone’s ready to go,” Cargill said.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the final seconds of the third quarter when Williams found wide receiver Grant Wallace ’15 on a seven-yard slant to make it 42–6, but holder Derek Russell’s ’13 pass for the two-point conversion fell incomplete.
The Big Red added a 22-yard field goal with 8:25 to go in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring at 45–6.
Despite allowing Cornell to run away with the first half 35–0, the Elis renewed their drive to keep pace with the Big Red in the second half. Cornell outscored Yale by only four points after halftime. Head Coach Tony Reno attributed the improvement to his team’s resilience.
“[We] had a bad half but came out and played better football,” Reno said. “You need to learn from mistakes … We’re just looking to continue to improve.”
Mathews finished the game 29–39 with 340 yards and four touchdown passes, while his Eli counterpart Williams finished 27–37 for 211 yards, one score and two interceptions. Matthews won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League offensive MVP last season.
Varga led the Yale ground attack with 91 yards on 13 carries. Hagy had 88 yards for Cornell, but it took him 21 rushing attempts.
Yale will kick off its home season Saturday against Colgate. Ivy play at the Yale Bowl will begin the following week against Dartmouth.
The first Ivy League game of the season left the Bulldogs seeing Red in Ithaca this afternoon.
Yale (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) was blown out by Cornell (1-1, 1-0 Ivy) 45-6 in the Ancient Eight opener.
The Big Red rode quarterback Jeff Mathews’ arm and three turnovers by the Blue and White to a big win in Ithaca, N.Y.
Cornell drove into Yale territory before being stopped on the opening drive, but it got the ball right back when linebacker Andrew Nelson jumped a screen and picked off the pass from Eli quarterback Eric Williams ’16.
Cornell scored on the very next play on a run by tailback Luke Hagy to jump out to a 7-0 lead. Although that would be enough to win the game, Mathews and Co. did not stop there. Mathews scored three for three, and Hagy ran for another as the Big Red took a big 35-0 lead by halftime.
Yale also lost running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 midway through the first half to a right shoulder injury. He did not return to the game and was replaced in the backfield by Khalil Keys ’15 and Tyler Varga ’16.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the final seconds of the third quarter when Williams hit wide receiver Grant Wallace ’15 on a seven-yard slant to make it 42-6, but holder Derek Russell’s ’13 pass for the two-point conversion fell incomplete.
The Big Red added a 31-yard field goal with 8:25 to go in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring at 45-6.
Mathews finished the game 29-39 with 340 yards and four touchdown passes, while his Eli counterpart Williams finished 27-37 for 211 yards, one score and two interceptions.
Varga led the Yale ground attack with 94 yards on thirteen carries. Hagy had 94 yards as well, but it took him 21 carries.
Yale returns home next weekend to face Colgate on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Although it is only their first Ivy League game, the Bulldogs will face possibly the most talented player they will see this season in Cornell University’s Jeff Mathews. As last year’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, he has shown no signs of a recession this season. Mathews threw for 489 yards and three scores while rushing for another touchdown against Fordham University last weekend. If the Bulldogs want to win in Ithaca tomorrow, they are going to have to disrupt Mathews and keep the Big Red on the ground. Cornell managed just 29 rushing yards last week, so if the Elis can make this weekend a ground game, the duo of running backs Tyler Varga ’16 and Mordecai Cargill ’13 can help Yale steal a win on the road. The key to all of this is taking the ball out of Mathews’ hands. Not only will the pass rush have to get to Mathews before he can pick apart the secondary, but the offense will also have to make sustained, time-consuming drives. Mathews cannot score when he is not on the field, so keeping him on the sidelines will be crucial.
TAKE CHANCES ON OFFENSE
Head coach Tony Reno made several bold play calls last weekend, and they worked out for the Bulldogs. Reno called for a deep pass instead of trying to run and get breathing room from the Yale two-yard line. He was rewarded with the longest play from scrimmage in Yale history when receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 hauled in the tipped pass from Eric Williams ’16 for a 98-yard score. Earlier in the game he called for a fake punt, and safety John Powers ’13 — the same player who ran the fake punt in the infamous “fourth-and-22” play against Harvard three years ago — dashed for 24 yards. The irony of Powers gaining the yardage that would have vindicated former head Coach Tom Williams in The Game notwithstanding, Reno displayed a knack for taking risks at the right time. That could come in handy against an inexperienced Cornell secondary that is starting two freshmen at corner.
EXECUTE ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Last week Yale won because kicker Philippe Panico ’13 made his field goal while his Hoya counterpart missed both of his attempts. With the exception of giving up a punt return for a touchdown when Kyle Cazzetta ’15 outkicked the coverage, the Elis played well on special teams, but this week they will need to be mistake-free. Giving a quarterback like Mathews a short field to work with does your defense no favors, so the Bulldogs must focus on pinning Cornell deep within its own territory on punts and kickoffs. Last week showed the Elis the difference between scoring a touchdown and settling for a field goal attempt, and they need to take that to heart.
The Bulldogs face a long, hard drive to Ithaca this weekend, but the trip will get even harder when they take the field to face Cornell.
Although they lost their season opener to Fordham, the Big Red (0–1, 0–0 Ivy) is a dangerous team led by reigning Ivy League offensive player of the year, quarterback Jeff Mathews.
Mathews started the season where he left off last year, throwing for 489 yards and three scores against the Rams to give him 1,446 yards and 12 touchdown passes in his past three games. Despite Mathews’ recent accomplishments, Yale (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) quarterback Eric Williams ’16 said that he will not change his game to compete with the Big Red signal caller.
“Throwing for 1500 yards in the last three games, that’s something you don’t do too often,” Williams said. “[But] I’m not trying to compare myself to [Mathews]. I’m just trying to play the best that I can.”
Head coach Tony Reno also praised Mathews, saying that he was an NFL prospect who combined a strong arm with an ability to read the field. Although Mathews is a threat, wide receiver Henry Furman ’14 stated that the team will not go to extremes to counter him.
“Our identity is an aggressive defense,” Furman said. “We’re still going to run the same blitzes. We’re not going to be afraid and put more guys in coverage.”
Wide receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 added that the offense will also maintain the balance between ground and aerial assaults that led the Blue and White to a 24–21 victory at Georgetown last weekend.
He added that the backfield combo of running backs Tyler Varga ’16 and Mordecai Cargill ’13 gives the Elis an edge. The duo rushed for a combined 179 yards last week, and Williams said that the backs’ ability to gain yards after contact is especially important.
“I think we’ll fare all right [against Cornell] because we’ve got the run game with Varga and Mo that can be just deadly,” Williams said.
Although establishing the run will be important, Williams said that the Bulldogs will take more chances down the field this weekend in the passing game. He and Sandquist added that although the Big Red secondary is young, the talent of the unit is apparent in the video that the Elis have been watching.
Sandquist went on to say that Cornell also mixes up its coverages, but that one of Williams’ strengths as a quarterback was reading defenses and taking what he saw, rather than “step[ping] out of what he sees on the field.”
Finally, Sandquist stated that Yale will try to control the tempo of the game.
“We’re going to establish our identity and go from there,” Sandquist said. “We’re going to try and dictate the game ourselves.”
Every Friday during football season, writers from Ivy League college newspapers send in their predictions for the weekend’s Ivy League matchups.
In the first weekend of Ancient Eight matchups, reigning champion Harvard (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) will hit the road to face Brown (1-0, 0-0 Ivy), while Yale (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) heads up to Ithaca, N.Y., to face Cornell (0-1, 0-0 Ivy). The rest of the Ivy League is playing non-conference games this week, so they were not considered in this poll.
If sportswriters get their way, the odds are stacked against the Elis: seven of eight sportswriters picked Cornell to beat Yale this weekend. Only Dartmouth writers say they think the Elis will pull it out.
We’re doing a little better than Brown, though, who was unanimously expected to lose its match against Harvard. We’ll see how right our writers are this weekend.
Playing quarterback at Yale can prove challenging, especially for the few freshmen who have gone under center, but Eric Williams ’16 appears up to the challenge.
The rookie signal caller has already led the Bulldogs to a historic 24–21 win at Georgetown last Saturday. He connected with wide receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 for a record-breaking 98-yard touchdown pass, but Sandquist said it was his confidence that has been the most impressive.
“From the get-go you could tell that he had some leadership qualities. He took control of the offense,” Sandquist said.
Williams’ leadership ability has also caught the eye of head coach Tony Reno. It was one reason that Reno decided to name Williams the starter against Georgetown over the more experienced John Whitelaw ’14, who quit the team in the wake of that decision.
Reno added that Williams’ attitude does not fluctuate with his play, allowing him to stay in control despite his inexperience.
“[Williams] managed the game pretty well,” Reno said after Saturday’s victory. “He made a few mistakes, but the key with Eric was that he made the mistakes but he kept playing. For a young guy to have some negative experiences during the game, but to not change his demeanor or who he was — he just kept playing.”
Williams credited his level-headedness on the field to his brother Scott Williams ’13 and his father, Larry Williams.
Larry Williams played football at the University of Notre Dame before going on to be an offensive lineman in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.
“He really didn’t force us to play football at all,” Williams said of his father. “He definitely did serve as our mentor once we started playing football. We listened to him in terms of how to get better.”
Their father’s advice must have worked, because Eric is the third Williams son to don the blue and white. Scott Williams is a linebacker and Sean Williams ’11 was a defensive end for the Elis.
Eric said the biggest advantage to having an older brother on the team has been the advice given to him on how to manage his schoolwork. He added that watching his oldest brother play at Yale is what inspired him to come to Yale.
His brothers’ influence, combined with academic reasons, are what led Eric to turn down scholarships from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Toledo.
“I was really interested in my academic career,” Eric said. “I know Yale offers a way better opportunity in that realm than Cincy or Toledo could.”
Sandquist added that having a brother on the team helped the younger Williams acquaint himself with the team.
Eric is no stranger to meeting new teammates or learning a new offense, however, since he did the same thing before his senior year of high school.
He transferred from Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., to football powerhouse St. Ignatius in Cleveland.
“I liked it out there [in Oregon],” Eric said. “But coming into my senior year I wasn’t fitting in there academically or athletically.”
Eric led St. Ignatius to its 11th Division I State Football championship, but it turns out he had athletic dreams beyond the gridiron. Until his junior year of high school, Williams said he wanted to play basketball in college. Luckily for Yale, he chose football.
Williams and the Bulldogs will next play on Saturday, Sept. 22, when they travel to Cornell.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Georgetown quarterback Aaron Aiken intended for wideout Kevin Macari to catch his 17-yard pass for a game-winning touchdown with 40 seconds remaining. Yale defensive back Collin Bibb ’13 had another idea. Bibb jumped in front of the Georgetown receiver and came down with the interception to preserve Yale’s 24–21 victory.
The Elis had a new coach at the helm in Tony Reno and a freshman starting behind center — the first in a season opener since 1997 — in Eric Williams ’16 on Saturday. But with his family in attendance, Reno was able to kick off his career as the 34th head coach of Yale (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) football in wild and record-setting fashion with a win against the Hoyas (2–1, 0–0 Patriot) in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
“It’s pretty special to have my family here,” Reno said. “[And] this is a special team. It’s a team that’s had some adversity early on, and they’ve really pulled together, and they’ve changed the culture of who they are, and I couldn’t be prouder of them and our staff.”
The adversity was evident from the start of the game, when running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 made the lonely trek to the center of the field for the coin toss. Cargill was elected by his teammates to represent the Elis at the toss this week in the absence of a team captain.
The Bulldogs lost the flip but received the kickoff when the Hoyas deferred until the second half. On just the fourth play of the drive, Cargill was stripped by defensive back Jeremy Moore to give Georgetown possession in Yale territory.
The Blue and White defense stood firm, however, and responded with a fumble recovery of its own by linebacker EJ Conway ’15 to stop the Hoyas at the Yale 10-yard line.
The ensuing Yale drive witnessed the debut of running back Tyler Varga ’16, who bullied the Hoyas on his way to 47 yards and a touchdown during the 14-play, 90-yard drive to hand Yale a 7–0 advantage.
“Varga and Mo [Cargill], they got hearts; that’s to say the least,” Williams said. “After first contact they know how to keep getting more yards.”
The tide turned quickly on the Elis after that, with Georgetown scoring on a punt return and an interception to take a 14–7 lead. The momentum appeared to favor the Hoyas heading into halftime, but Aiken fumbled as he appeared destined to score with under a minute to play in the half, and the ball was recovered by Yale at its own two-yard line.
On the next play, Williams wound up and fired the ball 40 yards downfield towards receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14. The ball seemed underthrown, but it was tipped by defensive back Malcolm Caldwell-Meeks into Sandquist’s waiting hands. The wide receiver then ran untouched into the end zone to give Yale a surprising 17–14 lead at the half. The 98-yard bomb was the longest play from scrimmage in the history of Yale football.
“It wasn’t a great pass so it was tipped,” Williams said. “But Cameron, he has the instincts to go get the ball and he came down with it and took it to the house.”
The decision to go deep was not Reno’s only gutsy call. He also ordered a fake punt on fourth down early in the second quarter, but unlike the infamous “fourth-and-22” call in the 2009 Game, the deception gained the first down and more with a 24-yard run by defensive back John Powers ’13.
The offense gave Yale the lead heading into halftime, but it was the defense that stepped up to hold on in the second half.
The Hoyas capitalized on center John Oppenheimer’s ’14 wild shotgun snap to recover a fumble and take a 21–17 lead with a 32-yard rushing score by tailback Dalen Claytor.
Yale’s defense made a statement on the next drive, however; with defensive end Kolu Buck ’14 forcing a fumble that end Allen Davis ’13 recovered at the Georgetown 14-yard line.
It took the Elis just two plays to capitalize on the defense’s work. Varga scored from nine yards out virtually untouched to take the lead back 24–21.
The Bulldog defense then took over the fourth quarter, stopping the Hoyas on two straight fourth-and-one plays before the final drive.
“I’m happy with the way [the defense] responded,” former captain linebacker Will McHale ’13 said. “We were put in some not the best situations, but I’m proud of the way the guys fought and proud of the effort and the execution.”
With just 2:23 remaining in the game, Aiken began leading Georgetown down the field to try and tie or win the game. His pass on second-and-four from the Georgetown 46-yard line appeared to fly harmlessly out of bounds, but defensive back Collin Bibb ’13 was called for a late hit that gave the Hoyas a first down at the Yale 39-yard line.
“One of the big things [Coach Reno] has taught us while he’s been here is no matter what happens in the game you’ve got to stay on an even keel emotionally,” Bibb said. “Just look to the next play always.”
Bibb did just that. Aiken drove the Hoyas all the way to the Yale 17-yard line when Georgetown decided to try and win it with 40 seconds to go, but Bibb put a damper on the Hoyas’ hopes with his takeaway, and the Elis were able to run out the clock on the opening day victory.
Williams finished 19–30 for 250 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, while running backs Mordecai Cargill ’13 and Varga finished with 76 and 103 yards rushing, respectively. Sandquist led the receiving corps with nine receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown. Aiken finished 11–25 for 94 yards in the air, but ran for another 72 yards to lead a Hoya ground attack that totaled 260 yards.
Yale will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., this Saturday to face Cornell in its first Ivy League game of the season.