The Yale football team finally found the win column on Saturday, securing a 21–13 victory over visiting Dartmouth en route to its best showing of the season.
The Yale (1–3, 1–1 Ivy) offense was buoyed by unexpected contributors, with fourth-string running back Alan Lamar ’20 rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in the place of an injured Deshawn Salter ’18 and Dale Harris ’17, who was playing defense in the game. Wide receiver Myles Gaines ’17 posted 106 yards on nine receptions, stepping in after what appeared to be a serious injury to top receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18 in the second quarter.
Allowing a season-low 13 points, the Bulldog defense held the defending Ivy League champion Big Green (2–2, 0–2) to 69 rushing yards and 348 passing yards, with a large portion of those passing yards coming in the final quarter of play. The Eli defense, which played a very physical game, also had three key stops on fourth down, two of which came inside the redzone.
“The first couple weeks of the season didn’t quite go as we wanted,” head coach Tony Reno said. “I’ve never seen a group more resilient than this one. Being able to deal with every situation on and off the field these guys proved their a mentally tough football team. Today, they showed they’re a physically tough football team.”
Looking to shore up their secondary in the absence of injured cornerback Marquise Peggs ’19, the Bulldogs switched up their positional assignments on defense. Linebacker Foye Oluokun ’17 switched back to safety, a position he played for two season, while safety Jason Alessi ’18 and running back Dale Harris ’17 moved to cornerback. Despite the positional shuffling, the Yale defense came out with its best start of the season, forcing a three-and-out on Dartmouth’s first series.
With just over ten minutes remaining in the first quarter, quarterback Tre Moore ’19 was hit behind the line of scrimmage and fumbled the ball. A Dartmouth recovery gave the Big Green possession at Yale’s 25-yard line, and quarterback Jack Heneghan soon found tight end Stephen Johnston for a 12-yard touchdown reception.
The Eli running offense found its groove on its next possession, as 15- and 21-yard rushes by running backs Candler Rich ’17 and Alan Lamar ’20 set up a 40-yard field goal by kicker Alex Galland ’19. The sophomore missed to the right, and Dartmouth subsequently marched down to the Yale eight-yard line. The Bulldog defense did not break, however, and forced the Big Green to settle for a field goal.
Moore continued to struggle with ball security, as a botched handoff to Rich led to Dartmouth’s second fumble recovery of the day. Despite taking over at the Yale 27-yard line, Dartmouth could not move the chains and came up a yard short on a fourth-down rushing attempt.
“We didn’t win the turnover battle but what we did do is we flipped the field a few times when [we were in] a tough situation,” Reno said. “We had great defensive football when our backs were against the wall.”
On the next possession, Yale’s leading receiver Williams-Lopez was carried off the field with an apparent right leg injury. In the second quarter, Moore was forced to lean heavily on Gaines, who caught three passes in the 13-play touchdown drive. Lamar punched the ball in for the score on a seven-yard carry with 3:09 remaining in the half.
After allowing the Big Green offense to drive to midfield, the Yale defense buckled down and made a stop, capped off by a monster hit by Oluokun to knock loose what would have been a first-down completion.
With just over a minute to play in the half, Yale was not content to go into halftime down three. Moore connected with Gaines for 42 yards, the longest pass play of the game. Moore then found Reed Klubnik ’20 for a diving one-handed touchdown, which capped off a 49-second, 75-yard drive and gave the Bulldogs a four point lead entering halftime — their first halftime advantage of the season.
The Dartmouth offense came out of the locker room firing, starting on the Yale 34-yard line, before Oluokun picked off Heneghan for Yale’s second interception of the season. Moore brought the Elis into field goal range with two more completions to Gaines, but Galland clanked the 42-yard attempt off the upright for his second miss of the day.
Safety Foye Oluokon ’17 picked off Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan for the Bulldogs’ second interception of the season. (Deniz Saip)
The Elis forced a three-and-out, but Moore coughed up his second credited fumble, giving Dartmouth the ball at their own 46. Heneghan nearly had his second touchdown throw of the day, but Oluokun broke up the pass in the endzone and the Big Green settled with a field goal to cut the deficit to 14–13.
With 11:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, Lamar broke loose for his longest run of the game, taking the ball up the middle for a 43-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
— Alan Lamar (@Alan_Lamar02) October 8, 2016
After picking up a first down, defensive tackle Nick Crowle ’18 stopped the Dartmouth offense in its tracks with a nine-yard sack and forced a punt. But Dartmouth came back on its next possession, marching down to the six-yard line before yet another fourth-down stop for the Eli defense.
Yale was able to wind the clock down to 2:34 on its next drive, but eventually punted it back to Dartmouth. After a sustained drive deep into Yale territory, Heneghan took a shot at the endzone with a minute to play but found safety Hayden Carlson ’18 instead, the junior’s second interception of the season.
The Eli offense then ran out the clock to seal a 21–13 victory, Yale’s first over Dartmouth since 2011.