For the fifth time this year, a team has tried, and failed, to stop the offense of the Yale football team.
Four different players scored for the Bulldogs (5–1, 2–1 Ivy) on Saturday as they racked up 605 total offensive yards in their 43–21 rout of Penn (1–5, 1–2) at the Yale Bowl. Yale took a two-score lead early on and never looked back, tallying two touchdowns in each of the first three quarters and securing the victory well before the clock ran out.
After the performance, Yale remains first in the entire Football Championship Subdivision in both total offensive yards per game and points per game.
“As the game went on, the focus and concentration level was still there,” head coach Tony Reno said. “We were able to do something for the second week in a row that we couldn’t do against Dartmouth. That’s growth.”
But the win, despite the offensive onslaught and relatively strong defensive performance, was bittersweet due to an alarming injury to cornerback Spencer Rymiszewski ’17. Rymiszewski dove to help out on a tackle in the second quarter when he was hit in the head and appeared motionless on the ground. Rymiszewski was taken to the hospital for evaluation, and Reno said he has since been released. Though Reno said after the game that Rymiszewski suffered a concussion, he declined to comment yesterday, citing privacy concerns.
As has often been the case this season, the game was host to a slate of impressive statistics, despite many of Yale’s starters sitting out nearly all of the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16 was near-perfect in three quarters, completing 26 of 29 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns — more than the number of incompletions he threw. The Ivy League passing leader, who has now thrown for over 300 yards in five games this season, broke his own Yale record for completion percentage in a game at 89.7 percent.
Seven of those passes went to captain and wide receiver Deon Randall ’15, enough for the senior to break the previous Yale record of 195 receptions in a career. Four games still remain for Randall, who noted a specific appreciation for the historical significance of the accomplishment.
“At a place with a lot of tradition, any time you’re able to accomplish something, put yourself in the history books, be a part of this tradition, it’s an honor,” Randall said.
For most of this game, however, Randall passed the spotlight to his teammate on the other side of the field, wide receiver Grant Wallace ’15.
While the Quaker defense keyed in on Randall and running back Tyler Varga ’15, the senior leader snuck downfield for 10 catches, 173 yards and two touchdowns.
“[Penn was] throwing a lot of different coverages at us … taking the linebackers out and putting them on me,” Wallace said. “I just trusted my quarterback. I knew he’d make the right reads.”
Wallace said that a strong game plan by Yale was the reason Penn’s defense left him open, but he also made a few highlight reel catches even when the Quakers did have him covered. Generally used as an outside option, Wallace impressed with several catches over the middle, including a grab in the back of the end zone for his first score and a 43-yard reception in strong single coverage later in the game.
That passing attack both contributed to and was assisted by another exceptional showing on the ground. Varga made his presence as a premier FCS running back felt, powering through defenders to score or to set up Roberts through the air.
“That’s the best part about this offense,” Randall said of Yale’s versatility. “The ball’s being distributed to everyone, and when [a person’s] number gets called, [he] makes a play.”
Varga rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns, including the first of the game. The Quakers blocked up the holes to stuff Varga’s first three rushes, but Yale would not back down from giving the ball to its main playmaker as he scored from 23 yards on his fourth attempt.
Linebacker Matthew Oplinger ’18 caught a pass to complete his second two-point conversion of the season, and he then made another big play on the very next drive. Linebacker Charles Cook ’15 blocked a Quaker kick on fourth down, and while most players on the field thought the ball was dead, Oplinger picked it up and rumbled 48 yards downfield to set the Elis up for Wallace’s first touchdown.
Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen found his favorite target, wide receiver Conner Scott, for the Quakers’ first score on their fourth possession. Scott would later account for Penn’s second touchdown on another big play, eventually finishing with 167 yards on nine receptions.
Though Yale held Penn’s rushing attack, which was back to full strength after the return of running back Kyle Wilcox, to just 47 yards, the deep ball has consistently been effective against the Bulldogs. In the Bulldogs’ lone defeat, two touchdowns of 30 yards or more proved detrimental to the Elis.
“We still have given up too many big plays on defense,” Reno said. “That’s got to continue to get better.”
Those two scores, however, would be it for Penn in its seven first-half possessions, and touchdowns by Randall and running back Candler Rich ’17, the fourth Eli to score, kept the Yale lead safely intact at 29–14.
Yale distanced itself further in the third quarter with touchdowns by Varga and Wallace, the second of the day for both players, and Penn could not make a drive last more than four plays in the meantime.
By the fourth quarter, Reno removed many of his starters, including Roberts, who was replaced by quarterback Logan Scott ’16.
Though Scott led the offense all the way to the Penn two-yard line, Yale was stopped on fourth down.
After a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Penn made its ultimate drive last 11 plays and over two minutes, but it could not score as the clock expired and the 43–21 score became final.
Before the game, Yale honored Penn head coach Al Bagnoli, a Connecticut native, in his last game at the Yale Bowl.
Yale will continue its conference season next week at Columbia, which has not won a game since 2012.
Correction: Oct. 26
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Yale football will play next week at Brown. In fact, next week’s game will be at Columbia.