High expectations for the 2016 Yale football season received a harsh reality check on Saturday afternoon, as No. 23 Colgate dominated the Bulldogs in every aspect of the game en route to a 55–13 thrashing in New Haven.
Despite having home-field advantage, Yale (0–1, 0–0 Ivy) could not get any momentum going on offense, while Colgate (1–1, 0–0 Patriot) picked apart the defense both through the air and on the ground. The game tied the largest Eli loss at home in the 102-year history of the Yale Bowl.
“We didn’t play well in any facet of the game,” head coach Tony Reno said. “We didn’t finish drives in the first half offensively. We turned the ball over, which we pride ourselves in not doing. Defensively, we gave up big plays. We didn’t punt the ball well early on and didn’t punt well in the fourth quarter … I’ve got a laundry list of things that I was not happy with today.”
Yale was outgained 558–188, and mustered a meager 12 yards rushing in the game while turning the ball over four times.
The Bulldogs used a rotating door both behind center and in the backfield, as three different quarterbacks and three different running backs saw time. Dale Harris ’17 ended the day as the Elis’ leading rusher with just 39 yards, while quarterback Rafe Chapple ’18, who started the game, finished as the leading passer with 145 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.
Though the Bulldogs struggled with turnovers throughout the game, they benefited from them early on, as safety Hayden Carlson ’18 snatched the tipped ball out of the air and took it to the 10-yard line. After a two-yard gain by Harris, Chapple found his high school teammate, wide receiver Chris Williams-Lopez ’18, wide open in the endzone for the first score of the game. Chapple’s first career touchdown pass was also his first pass of the season.
But Yale’s lead did not last long. Despite another Holmes touchback, Colgate drove down the field in a seven-play, 2:19 drive that featured a 29-yard pass to Maddaluna off a flea-flicker. Melville hit tight end Nick Diaco to tie the game at seven.
“[During] the first spurt at the beginning I thought we were on the right track,” Reno said. “We didn’t quite keep our foothold in any facet and Colgate capitalized on everything they did. Tip your hat off to them.”
Following a Yale three-and-out and another quick Colgate touchdown, the Bulldogs sent quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 onto the field instead of Chapple for their third drive. Rawlings completed a 25-yard pass to Williams-Lopez on the fourth play of the possession, but the team could not advance past the Colgate 38-yard line before linebacker Trent Williams took down Rawlings for a sack on fourth down. A 55-yard touchdown pass gave Colgate a two-score lead just one play later.
With Chapple returning for the next drive, Yale marched down the field, taking the ball as far as the Colgate 12-yard line, but a holding penalty on offensive lineman Khalid Cannon ’17 killed the drive’s momentum and forced Yale to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Alex Galland ’19.
The Bulldogs caught a break on the next kickoff, as Colgate coughed it up and Carlson recovered it at the 22-yard line to give Yale prime field position. However, the Elis again could not capitalize, going three-and-out despite three completions from Chapple, and settling with another Galland field goal to close the gap to 21–13 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
It was all Colgate for the remainder of the game. Melville led the Raiders through two more scoring drives in the last eight minutes of the first half, and the Bulldogs headed to the locker room down 35–13.
Interception thrown by both Chapple and Kurt Rawlings ’20 prevented Yale from scoring in the second half, while the Raiders rattled off another 20 points to seal the victory.