CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – The Yale football team (5-5, 3-4 Ivy) was humiliated Saturday in the 121st edition of The Game by the perfect Harvard Crimson (10-0, 7-0 Ivy), 35-3. With the win, the Crimson become the sole winners of the Ivy League championship and put the Elis into a three-way tie for fourth place in the Ancient Eight. Yale fans did not let the Cantabs’ domination entirely spoil their day, exacting a little revenge by stealing the Harvard flag from the Crimson cheerleaders.
The Bulldogs were in the fight early, but two huge plays by the Cantabs’ special teams took away any hopes of building momentum. Again, besides battling against a solid defense, the Elis had to battle their personal demons when trying to score or create a successful drive. Despite this, however, the only statistical category the Crimson crushed the Bulldogs was the score, as the Elis had a better possession time, 28:44, than they usually have as well as only 53 fewer yards of total offense than they average.
“I think we were taken out of the game,” Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “Obviously the two big plays — the punt-return and the interception — just put us in a big time hole. They [the Cantabs] were a great team on both sides of the ball.”
The two plays Siedlecki was referring to came in the second quarter. After an Eli three-and-out, Tyson Crawford ’05 came in and punted the ball to around midfield. Harvard’s Brian Edwards was waiting for it, but briefly fumbled the ball. He picked it up, put on a burst of speed around the right corner, and made it the 53 yards to the end zone with the help of good blocking. The uncharacteristic allowance of a touchdown on special teams cost the Elis as the scored jumped to 14-0.
The Bulldogs, led by quarterback Alvin Cowan ’05, did not let it faze them. A 37-yard pass from Cowan to wide receiver Chandler Henley ’06 behind Cantab coverage put the Elis within scoring distance. Cowan was looking for a quick pass to Henley on the left but he threw the ball too quickly. Safety Rick Williamson cut the pass off and made an interception he returned 100 yards to his own end zone for another Crimson touchdown.
“We were running that play all year, it’s a good play to run,” Cowan said. “Looking back on it, I didn’t see [Henley] that well and I didn’t see that defensive back at all, so I probably shouldn’t have thrown it.”
Again, though, the Bulldogs showed that they wanted this game and came back with another long drive. Some solid running by tailback Rob Carr ’05 helped bring the Elis within the red zone again. Although they only needed six yards to get into the end zone, three incomplete passes took away a shot at a much-needed touchdown and the Bulldogs settled for a field goal by Andrew Sullivan ’05. The Elis finished 1-for-3 in the red zone.
With the outlook for their team looking bleak, a Yale fan decided to take matters into his own hands during halftime. The fan managed to steal the Cantabs’ large red flag with a ‘H’ emblazoned on it, run across the field and toss it into the Yale student section where other fans took it and taunted Harvard. A lone male Harvard cheerleader tried to get it back but was unsuccessful. The Eli fans cheered loudly while Crimson fans had to sit back and watch.
This was about all the cheering the Yale fans were afforded as the Cantabs kept their lead. The offense continued to be frustrated, but the defense generally played a solid game. They forced the Cantabs to punt five times and held them to 21 points on offense, which is less than their average per game.
The Bulldogs had trouble with the Crimson quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who finished with 71 rushing yards and 124 passing yards. He was involved in the two Crimson touchdowns in the second half to complete the trouncing of the Bulldogs, running for one touchdown and throwing a 27-yard pass to Edwards for the other.
“He can run or throw,” defensive end Don Smith ’05 said. “It’s tough. He made so many plays.”
The loss to Harvard ends the Yale football careers of the 31 Eli seniors. Siedlecki said they were a special group of athletes.
“Even though I was disappointed in the season, I was never disappointed in any individuals playing for us,” Siedlecki said. “They have done everything we asked them to do. I’m going to miss every one of them. I’m proud of them.”