Yale’s search for its first home win of 2012 will have to continue at least one more week.
On Saturday’s game at the Yale Bowl, the Elis blew a 10–7 halftime lead to fall 20–10 to Lafayette.
Quarterback Eric Williams ’16 threw two interceptions in the first quarter, but each time the Bulldog defense forced a punt on the ensuing Leopard drive.
“We took a shot down the field and a kid made a nice play on the ball,” head coach Tony Reno said. “What you’re seeing is the maturation of a young quarterback … There’s a couple of throws he wished he had back.”
Yale (1–4, 0–2 Ivy) went up 7–0 30 seconds into the second quarter when Williams hit tight end Michael Leunen ’14 with a 25-yard pass and Leunen forced his way into the end zone.
With eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, Lafayette quarterback Andrew Shoop evened the score at seven apiece with a five-yard toss to fullback Greg Kessel. The Elis would retake the lead when kicker Philippe Panico ’13 drilled a 24-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the half.
But the second half would be all Lafayette. After both teams traded punts at the start of the half, the Leopards drove 78 yards on a 12-play drive that ended with a 10-yard Mark Ross touchdown reception. Shoop attributed his connection with Ross to their relationship both on and off the field.
“We’re on the same page all the time,” Shoop said. “I have faith in him to make every single play no matter where I put the ball.”
That connection would pay off again for the Leopards in the fourth quarter. Trailing just 14–10 with three minutes remaining in the game, nose guard Chris Dooley ’13 sacked Shoop to bring up fourth and 12 for Lafayette.
With Lafayette attempting the fourth-down conversion on the next play, Ross dove and caught Shoop’s 32-yard lob to set up first and goal on the Yale two-yard line. Two plays later, tailback Ross Sheuerman powered his way over the goal line to increase Lafayette’s lead. The lead would stay at just 10 after nose guard Nick Daffin ’13 blocked the point after.
Turnovers cost the Bulldogs in the final quarter. After a Leopard three-and-out midway through the quarter, Yale drove all the way to Lafayette’s 15, but Williams was intercepted by defensive back Shane Black for the second time on the day. Black stated that he had not had a two interception performance in years.
“It’s been a while,” Black said. “I’d have to go back and look at the high school stats.”
The final drive for the Bulldogs ended with Williams’ fourth and final interception of the day. Lineback Chris Brockman picked him off with 38 seconds remaining to seal the victory for Lafayette.
Williams threw a career-high four interceptions while his Lafayette counterpart Andrew Shoop passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Tyler Varga ’15 led the Bulldogs with 100 rushing yards in his return to the field. Yale had withheld Varga from last week’s 34–14 loss to Dartmouth while the NCAA investigated his eligibility following his transfer from the University of Western Ontario.
“We’d been preparing all week to really pound the rock and run the ball,” Cargill said, “which is kind of our identity as an offense.”
Varga added that the offensive line’s ability to open holes in the defense was crucial to the backs’ success.
Yale will be at home for the fourth week in a row next Saturday against Penn (2–3, 2–0 Ivy).