Saturday was another historic loss for the Yale football team as the Bulldogs continued their worst start since 1993, falling to 0–3. But the contest against Lehigh at the Yale Bowl was particularly bad for the Eli defense, as it gave up 63 points, tied for the most points ever allowed by the Bulldogs in the 144-year history of Yale football.
The Elis remained winless in their first three games after a 63–35 drubbing at the hands of Lehigh. Despite running for two rushing touchdowns, quarterback Tre Moore ’19 threw for just 120 yards and tossed two interceptions. On the other side of the field, Lehigh’s quarterback Brad Mayes threw for a school-record 524 yards and six touchdowns, while wide receiver Troy Pelletier went for 213 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
“[Lehigh] had some good players on the outside who came out and made plays,” captain and linebacker Darius Manora ’17 said. “We came out and fought hard, but there were a lot of things we should’ve correct[ed] mentally that we didn’t execute as well as they did.”
In his first series as a starter, Moore struggled to find his groove, overthrowing wide receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18 on third-and-four to begin the game with a three-and-out for the Bulldogs.
After a 24-yard punt by Brian Holmes ’17, the Mountain Hawk offense began the day with excellent field position at midfield. Lehigh found the endzone in just 1:22, after completions of 21 and nine yards by Mayes to set up a three-yard rushing touchdown by running back Dom Bragalone.
In its next series, the Eli offense established its ground game, as running back Deshawn Salter ’18 picked up a total of 33 yards on two carries before a holding penalty stalled the Eli drive just outside of field goal range.
Although the Yale defense held Lehigh star receiver Troy Pelletier without a catch on his first drive, Mayes found the junior on a crossing route that the Deerfield, New Hampshire native took down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown reception.
Despite being down 14–0 early, Yale quickly responded as Salter picked up 70 yards on first-and-20 following an offensive holding call. Salter finished the day with 151 rushing yards, the first 100-yard rushing game this season for a Bulldog running back. However, Salter’s performance did not come close to matching the 233 yards and two touchdowns he picked up in last season’s 27–12 victory over the Mountain Hawks.
On the next snap, Moore handed the ball to Williams-Lopez on a jet sweep, and the receiver scored his second touchdown of the season from 15 yards to get Yale on the board.
But Yale still had no answer for Mayes and the Mountain Hawk offense. Lehigh scored its third straight touchdown, this time in just sixty seconds on a 54-yard pass to wide receiver Gatlin Casey, who evaded an attempted tackle by cornerback Jaelin Alburg ’20.
After the teams exchanged punts, Moore was picked off on his next throw and the Mountain Hawks punched in their fourth score of the game just two seconds into the second quarter. Another Pelletier touchdown gave Lehigh its biggest lead of the game at 35–7.
Williams-Lopez started a Bulldog rally by taking a short pass from Moore 63 yards down the sideline to the end zone on the next series.
Safety Jason Alessi ’18 returned the ensuing Lehigh punt 82 yards for a score, building on his career-high 80-yard touchdown return against Columbia last season. However, kicker Alex Galland ’19 missed the extra point, bringing the score to 35–20.
In a rare display of defensive execution in the high-scoring first half, Manora helped defensive end Kyle Mullen ’19 bring Mayes down for a sack to force the first Lehigh three-and-out of the contest.
The Elis took over on Lehigh’s 37-yard line after the Mountain Hawk punter shanked a 19-yard kick. Moore took the ball in by himself 2:23 later for the first rushing touchdown of his Yale career and holder Andrew Johnson ’18 ran in the two-point conversion on a fake to tighten Lehigh’s lead to seven points, although the Mountain Hawk lead would balloon to 42–28 with a second touchdown by Bragalone heading into halftime.
The Lehigh air attack showed no signs of fatigue as it returned to the field with a 42-yard pass to Pelletier. Mayes threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game to Trevor Socarras just 1:32 into the quarter.
Moore struggled to keep pace with Mayes, and the Eli quarterback threw his second interception of the game with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter. Mayes capitalized on the turnover by finding a wide-open Pelletier for a 23-yard touchdown.
On a route almost identical to the one that led to the Pelletier score, Mayes hit Casey for a 44-yard reception to go up 63–28 with 1:03 remaining in the third quarter.
In a scary moment with 12:58 left to play in the game, Lehigh cornerback Quentin Jones made helmet-to-helmet contact with Moore as the quarterback tried to scramble for a first down. Jones immediately hit the turf and lay motionless after the play for several minutes. He was carried off the field on a stretcher but was moving his arms as he left.
Moore scored his second rushing touchdown of the game just a few plays later, making him Yale’s leader in rushing touchdowns after his first game as starting quarterback. Neither team found an offensive rhythm in the final 10 minutes, solidifying a 63–35 Lehigh victory.
The Elis have not given up 63 points since they lost to Connecticut 63–21 in 1998.