The offense was not quite as explosive as its 62 points last Saturday, but the defense turned in a stellar performance as Yale (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) topped Cornell (1-1, 0-1) 21-7 Saturday at the Yale Bowl.
The Bulldogs join Harvard (2-0, 1-0) and Penn (2-0, 0-0) as the only undefeated teams in the Ivy League.
“We didn’t get the easy ones this week,” said Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki of his team’s 21-7 win over the Big Red. “Our defense played phenomenal. Making them drive the length of the field was the key to the game.”
Linebacker Ben Breunig ’05 sealed the game by intercepting a Mick Razzano pass with 8:29 left in the fourth quarter with the score as it would finish.
“The ball just hit me right in the chest,” Breunig said. “I didn’t have to do anything.”
Though Breunig joked that he ran out of gas and his legs began to cramp on the interception return, it was Cornell that must have felt suddenly weary at that point. Yale couldn’t match its 424 yards rushing from last year against the Big Red, but the Elis did gain 268 along the ground at a 5.2 yard-per-carry clip. Rob Carr ’05 rushed for 115 yards — including a 48-yard touchdown scamper around the right end less than two minutes into the second half — and quarterback Alvin Cowan ’04 gained 99 yards on the ground.
“The whole second half we had them on the run with the run game,” Siedlecki said.
Cornell head coach Tim Pendergast expressed frustration that his team failed to control the Yale ground attack.
“We missed tackles,” Pendergast said. “They’re good players, but we didn’t finish when we had the opportunities. We’re going to be a better team next week.”
Yale started the game with a 75-yard touchdown drive that seemed to foreshadow another dominating offensive performance. The Eli offense — particularly the passing game — stalled as the Big Red forced punts on the last five possessions of the first half.
“I wasn’t throwing the ball well,” said Cowan, after finishing the game at 6-of-15 for only 83 yards. “It’s nice to know that when you’re having an off-day the other guys can pick you up.”
Cornell didn’t fare much better, punting in its first six possessions before Trevor MacMeekin missed a 41-yard field goal.
“We didn’t execute,” quarterback and Big Red co-captain Mick Razzano said. “We didn’t make big plays, and we had a lot of penalties.”
Razzano finished the day 19-of-41 for 148 yards. Though Razzano would not point any fingers after the game, his receiving corps dropped a number of important passes. With no one player rushing for over 70 yards, it was the Cornell passing game that proved the greatest threat to an Eli victory.
“There was a stretch in the third quarter in which they were completing [short and quick] passes with ease,” Yale safety Steve Ehikian ’04 said. “Without seeing the film, I would say that they were not going to win the game with 5-7 yard quick passes. Those passes across the middle and into the flats are high risk passes. They had some success with it, but we also got an interception. Cornell tried those quick passes on third down, and I thought we did a good job keeping the receivers in front of us and tackling [them] before getting the first down.”
Ehikian, who led the Bulldogs with 7.5 tackles, including six solo jobs and a number of impressive tackles from his “gunner” position on Yale punts, praised the defensive line for pressuring Razzano.
In one series, Brandon Dyches ’06 sacked Razzano on second down, then caught the scrambling quarterback just short of a first down on the next play.
Yale blitzed Razzano almost constantly, bringing up Breunig and linebacker Kenny Estrera ’04 on a number of plays. Cole Harris ’05 sacked Razzano on a fourth down play, where he came, close to untouched, straight through the middle of the line.
Yale tight end Nate Lawrie ’04 finished with three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.