In a bizarre football game in which the ball was turned over twice in one play, a great defensive play both prevented and caused a touchdown and a 265-pound defensive lineman lumbered for the longest run of the day, Yale secured a victory over Fordham, 36-27.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 Ivy) overcame the absence of quarterback Peter Lee ’02 and running back Robert Carr ’05 to stop the upset-minded Rams (2-3) Saturday at the Yale Bowl in the team’s final non-conference tilt.
Backup quarterback T.J. Hyland ’02 and running back Jay Schulze ’03 were called upon to fill in the gaps, and both responded with first-class efforts to lead the Elis to victory.
“Our players really buy into what they are doing,” Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “When they get their opportunity, they are prepared.”
This was true for Hyland, a career backup, and it was true for Schulze, who saw his first game-day action in three weeks.
Filling in for Lee, who was hampered by an ankle injury and the flu, Hyland threw for a touchdown and ran for another in only his second career start. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 194 yards.
Schulze, returning from an ankle injury suffered in the first game of the season, was originally meant to split time with Pat Bydume ’04 in the backfield. But when Bydume left the game with a mild concussion early in the second quarter, Schulze became the featured Yale back.
Tender ankle and all, Schulze barreled through the Fordham defense all day.
He had 30 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns — all career highs. Of his three scores, none was bigger than a 2-yard run on fourth down to extend a two point Yale lead into a 36-27 cushion early in the fourth quarter.
After Schulze’s fourth quarter touchdown, the Eli defense stopped Fordham on fourth-and-one in Yale’s red zone. The Bulldogs’ offense then took over with Schulze and running back Cody Cargill ’04 churning out first down after first down on the ground to run out the final six minutes of the game.
Schulze was quick to praise the Yale offensive line for opening the big holes in the Fordham defense that often allowed him to run five yards down field before being hit.
“Yale’s offensive line won the battle of the trenches against our defensive line,” Fordham head coach Dave Clawson said. “They were able to convert some key third and fourth downs. They were able to keep the chains moving down the stretch.”
While the Yale offensive line dominated throughout the day, the outcome of the game was certainly in question.
With Yale leading 29-21 at the end of the third quarter, safety Ryan LoProto ’02 made what appeared to be a touchdown-saving play as he deflected a potential scoring pass from Fordham quarterback Mark Carney. But the batted ball traveled 10 yards into the hands of Alemayo Whyte, who caught the ball in the end zone for the score.
The Rams’ attempt at the two-point conversion failed, leaving Yale with a two-point advantage, 29-27.
The Elis were threatening on their next drive until a Hyland pass was intercepted by Gerome Robinson at the Fordham 32-yard line. But offensive lineman Matt Lewis ’03 promptly forced Robinson to fumble the ball and Rory Hennessey ’05 recovered it to regain possession for the Elis. The drive then culminated with Schulze’s 2-yard touchdown run.
“We made what we thought was a big defensive stop [on the interception], but instead Yale recovered the fumble and then scored a touchdown,” Clawson said. “That was the backbreaker. If there was a play that changed the whole game, that was it.”
Fordham started the game with momentum, capitalizing on a Hyland interception deep in Yale territory. Given a short field, Fordham marched for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
After Hyland found a wide-open Keith Reams ’02 for a 25-yard touchdown strike to tie the game, Fordham again threatened to score.
With the ball on the Yale 24-yard line, Carney made an ill-advised pass that went straight into the hands of Eli defensive lineman Jason Lange ’03. The 6-foot-3-inch, 265-pound Lange rumbled his way from the Yale 26-yard line all the way to the Fordham 16.
“As a defensive lineman, I have been dreaming about that since I was five,” Lange said. “[Carney] looked right at me and threw the ball. From there, it was just seeing about how far I could run without some little guy catching me. It turned out to be 60 yards.”
Lange’s interception return set up a 1-yard Schulze touchdown run that gave Yale a 13-7 Yale lead.
The Bulldogs never trailed after that.