Yale’s offense gained 141 more yards than Columbia’s did at Wien Stadium this past weekend.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they also racked up 86 more penalty yards than the Light Blue in their 28-14 loss to the Lions.
Worse still for the Elis, the penalties could not have come at more inopportune times, as several drives stalled once referee Paul Zukis’ crew blew their whistles.
“We had a lot of penalties, and we were a little mentally unsound,” team captain Tim Penna ’02 said.
Yale was penalized a school record 14 times, eight of which were called on the offense.
On the Elis’ final three drives of the first half, penalties dealt what looked to be promising marches downfield tough setbacks.
Late in the first quarter, with Yale and Columbia still knotted at zero, Peter Lee ’02 connected with Billy Brown ’02 for a 38-yard strike that brought the Elis to the Columbia 29-yard line.
After two rushes for just 1 yard, a false start made a third-and-nine into a third-and-14. Lee then found Brown for a 3-yard gain.
Faced with a fourth-and-11 on the 30-yard line, head coach Jack Siedlecki opted to go for it, and Lee lined up in the shotgun. Yale was called for their second false start in as many downs, and Justin Davis ’02 came on to punt.
Following a Columbia three-and-out and a 17-yard punt return by P.J. Collins ’04, Yale got the ball in excellent field position at midfield. And for a few minutes it appeared as if the offense would capitalize on it, as five plays later Yale had a first-and-10 on the Columbia 19-yard line.
Another false start dropped the Elis 5 yards back, and two plays later Lee was called for intentional grounding, setting up a fourth-and-23 from the Columbia 32 and another Davis punt.
The Eli offense repeated this trend throughout the day. Whether it was a false start, holding or even an illegal man downfield infraction, the penalties were a microcosm for the Bulldogs’ overall offensive ineffectiveness.
“We may have been too much on edge,” head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “We did not have much success offensively, and we made mistakes we normally wouldn’t make.”
The defense didn’t escape New York without its share of penalties, either — two pass interference calls against Steve Ehikian ’04 led to Columbia’s first touchdown of the game.
After the game, Siedlecki noted that although the Elis committed many penalties that hurt their chances, other factors may also have worked against them.
“The offensive linemen took turns jumping,” Siedlecki said. “I’ll replay both pass interference calls if you’d like. But we’re playing on the road. –“