The Ivy League football schedule is kind to the Bulldogs.
And that is a good thing, for Ivy League opponents have been less than considerate to the Elis so far this season.
Each year, Yale faces its most bitter rivals, Princeton and Harvard, in the final two games of the season. Regardless of the standings, there is no dearth of motivation or hope during the last two weekends before Thanksgiving.
“It doesn’t matter what the records are,” Princeton head coach Roger Hughes said. “The rivalry takes care of itself.”
So even though three straight league losses leave the Bulldogs out of the top of the Ancient Eight standings, the second most important title of the season is still up for grabs.
Let the H-Y-P’s begin.
Yale (3-4, 1-4 Ivy) travels to New Jersey this Saturday to take on Princeton (1-6, 1-4) in a game whose primary implications involve Bulldog and Tiger pride. But the Elis also carry with them the memories of a painful loss to Princeton last year, when the Tigers used a touchdown in the game’s final 20 seconds to upend Yale 19-14.
“Everyone who was in the Bowl that day will agree we’ll come out with a chip on our shoulder,” defensive lineman Stuart Satullo ’03 said.
Yale could also come out with a few tricks up its sleeve.
Last week in Yale’s 37-34 loss to Brown, T.J. Hyland ’02 started at quarterback, a move that took the Bears by surprise. Having prepared all week for Peter Lee ’02, who is strictly a drop-back passer, Hyland’s mobility caused significant problems for Brown’s defense. The Bulldogs installed a quarterback draw into their arsenal for the first time this season and Hyland rushed for 139 yards.
With the element of surprise now gone, the Bulldogs will not be able to ambush the Tigers with an unexpected style of play. But head coach Jack Siedlecki is still trying to keep Princeton on its toes.
Lee sat out against Brown with an ankle injury that had limited his effectiveness in prior weeks, but has returned to practice with an encouraging performance this week, Siedlecki said. But the coach has not named a starter for Saturday’s game and has said that he would not rule out using both Hyland and Lee.
“It appears we have to make two different game plans,” said Hughes in response to the possibility of having to face two Yale quarterbacks with dissimilar styles of play.
Princeton and Yale enter the contest in similar situations. They are tied for last in the league standings, along with Dartmouth. Like the Elis, the Tigers have been on the wrong end of some close contests.
Three weeks ago against Harvard, a 49-yard try at a game-winning field goal by Princeton place-kicker Taylor Northrup sailed just wide of the goal posts. Two weeks ago against Cornell, his 57-yard game-tying attempt hit the crossbar.
Last week, the Tigers led undefeated Pennsylvania 10-7 in the fourth quarter before falling 21-10.
“They are coming off of a real emotional game,” said Siedlecki, whose team is in the same boat. “Part of [determining who wins] is going to be who comes back first.
Although the Elis squandered a 27-17 second half lead last week, they do have some positives to build upon. The Bulldogs, who scored only 10 offensive points in the two games prior to the Brown contest, broke out to score four touchdowns and 34 points against the Bears.
Running back Jay Schulze ’03 accounted for all four of those touchdowns and became the first back in Yale history to rush into the end zone four times in one game since Heisman Trophy winner Clint Frank ’38 did it in 1937.
Ralph Plumb ’05 also got into the scoring action for the Bulldogs by hauling in his first collegiate catch for a 44-yard touchdown reception. Plumb played at the H-back position in place of injured fullback Jim Keppel ’02 and should see more time there this weekend.
Princeton is dealing with injuries of its own. The Tigers’ top running back, Cameron Atkinson, missed last week’s contest with a knee injury, but Hughes was hopeful he would be back this week.