Following a lopsided defeat in its season opener against Colgate last weekend, the Yale football team faltered once again at the start of Ivy League play on Saturday, losing 27–13 to a Cornell team that went just 1–9 last season.
The game in Ithaca, New York was a tale of two halves for Yale (0–2, 0–1 Ivy) on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Behind quarterback Rafe Chapple ’18, who earned his second start of the season, the Bulldogs’ offense struggled to gather any momentum in the first half and threw for just 40 yards while tossing two interceptions, while the defense surrendered several big plays en route to a 24-point half for Cornell (2–0, 1–0).
Quarterback Tre Moore ’19 began the second half under center for the Elis, and led the team to a 10-point half and 179 yards. Though the defense would also improve its play in the second half, surrendering only three points, Cornell’s early lead proved to be insurmountable.
The loss to Cornell, which was picked to finish last in this year’s Ivy League preseason poll, creates an issue for Yale’s title chances just one game into the Ancient Eight season. The Bulldogs host Lehigh next Saturday before moving on to their next conference foe, Dartmouth, at home on Oct. 8.
The Big Red ran the ball on its first five plays from scrimmage, gaining just 21 yards before punting to the Bulldogs. A Yale three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Big Red, which decided to debut its air attack its next possession.
Cornell quarterback Dalton Banks had no problem picking apart a young Bulldog secondary, finding wide receiver Marshall Deutz for a 22-yard reception to put the Big Red in the red zone. After picking up 48 passing yards on his team’s opening drive, Banks handed the ball to running back J.D. PicKell for a one-yard score.
While the Yale offense gained some momentum on the next drive behind two first downs from running back Dale Harris ’17, Chapple ceded an interception over the middle to Cornell safety Nick Gesualdi, who powered the ball back into Yale territory. Just 1:51 later, Cornell scored its second touchdown of the half, as Deutz evaded several Yale defenders on a 23-yard screen pass from Banks.
Chapple threw his second interception of the game on the third play of the ensuing Yale drive, which positioned Cornell at Yale’s 38-yard line.
Shortly after the beginning of the second quarter, Bulldog cornerback Jaelin Alburg ’20 forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Hayden Carlson ‘18 at the Yale 49 yard-line. After the first two games, Carlson leads all Bulldogs with three turnovers.
A 15-yard targeting penalty on Cornell and several long rushes by running back Deshawn Salter ’18 set up a field goal by kicker Alex Galland ’19 to put Yale on the board and cut the deficit to 14–3.
But Cornell struck quickly to squash any Yale momentum, as Banks faked a screen pass before finding wide receiver Ben Rogers for a 43-yard touchdown, blowing the top off the Yale secondary.
After the teams exchanged three-and-outs, Chapple fumbled in the backfield for his third turnover of the game. Though the Big Red recovered the fumble, it was unable to add to its lead as Carlson snuffed out a fake field goal attempt on fourth down.
Moore entered the game at quarterback for the next Yale possession but could not find a rhythm after completing his first pass to wide receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18, who led all players in the game with 92 receiving yards. The Elis punted with 1:11 remaining in the second quarter.
Cornell marched down the field and added a field goal to take a 24–3 advantage into halftime.
Moore came out of the locker room to begin Yale’s second half at quarterback and led the Bulldogs down the field for a 13-play, 83-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a three-yard Salter run.
While Yale would go three-and-out in its next two possessions, a Cornell field goal with 11:06 remaining in the fourth quarter improved the Big Red lead to 27–10.
Yale’s defense continued to hold Cornell without a touchdown in the second half, giving the ball back to the offense with 7:52 remaining. Moore marched the Elis down to the five-yard line, finding Williams-Lopez for a 22-yards grab before Galland added his second field goal of the game to narrow the Cornell lead to 27–13.
After Cornell recovered a subsequent onside kick attempt by Yale, the Big Red punted back to the Bulldogs with 2:53 remaining. Moore’s first interception of the game — the Bulldogs’ third of the afternoon — sealed the victory for the Big Red as Cornell ran out the clock.
Yale lost the turnover battle 5–1, which cemented its first 0–2 start to a season since 1997, when the Bulldogs fell to Brown and Connecticut.