The Yale football team had one of its strongest performances of the year at Fordham this Saturday, but came up just short in the end. The Bulldogs fell 44–37 in a game that featured four lead changes and two fourth-quarter touchdowns by the Elis.
Yale (1–4, 1–1 Ivy) continued to dominate the running game on Saturday, outgaining one of the best rushing attacks in the Football Championship Subdivision 324–157. Running back Dale Harris ’17 totaled 136 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 24 carries. The Yale rush defense proved stellar once again, holding the leading rusher in all of college football, Chase Edmonds, to just 121 yards on 18 carries, well below his previous average of 188.8 yards per game.
Despite the effort, the Elis wrapped up nonconference play without a win for the first time since 2005.
“Fordham did a nice job and held on at the end,” head coach Tony Reno said. “They made a few more plays in the game then we did and at the end of the day that was the big thing. They cashed in one more time than we did. We had our opportunities and didn’t finish.”
Once again, deficiencies in the passing game — both offensively and defensively — proved insurmountable for the Elis. On the way to just 103 yards on 13 completions, quarterback Tre Moore ’19 overthrew several receivers and struggled to find his accuracy on short completions. The receiving core also faltered without Yale’s leading pass catcher Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18, who missed the game with a sprained ankle.
The Bulldogs faced an 18-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter after two third-quarter turnovers. Harris fumbled in the red zone and then a few series later, Fordham returned a Moore interception 69 yards for a touchdown.
“We really had an opportunity to take the game over in the third quarter with the two drives and we fumbled and threw the pick,” Reno said. “The pick turned out to be a 14-point swing.”
Despite a disappointing showing as a passer, Moore was dangerous outside the pocket all day, consistently beating the Rams defense on scrambles and a few designed runs.
Though he was sacked three times, the sophomore signal-caller redeemed himself in the run game, gaining 102 yards and a rushing touchdown on 16 attempts.
“Tre is a young kid trying to lead a team so there’s always going to be some ups and downs but I think, at times, he made plays,” Harris said. “He had one turnover, but that doesn’t define a game.”
The 37-point showing, a season-high for the Eli offense, could not seal the victory for the Bulldogs, as Fordham deviated from its run-heavy offense to exploit Yale’s secondary in the passing game.
With Harris mostly appearing at running back and cornerback and Marquise Peggs ’19 once again sitting the game out due to injury, the defensive backs regressed from last week’s improved performance at Dartmouth. They were consistently beat over the top by Fordham’s receivers, as Rams quarterback Kevin Anderson posted 270 passing yards and five touchdowns, two of which went for 55 and 69 yards.
“I thought we did a good job containing their explosive run game and being physical up front,” captain and linebacker Darius Manora ’17 said. “We still have to improve with eliminating mental mistakes on the perimeter and in coverage.”
While Harris could have been used by the struggling secondary, the absence of an injured Deshawn Salter ’18 and last week’s breakout runner Alan Lamar ’20 made it necessary for Harris to see more action at running back.
Although both Lamar and Salter are expected back soon, their absence this game was compounded by the unavailability of Candler Rich ’17 who was injured late in the first half after running for 86 yards on 10 carries.
In several ways, Saturday’s contest was a missed opportunity for the Bulldogs. They succeeded in what seemed like an impossible task of stopping Edmonds and racked up 324 yards of their own on the ground. Additionally, the 12 penalties committed by the Rams gave the Elis good field position throughout the contest.
“If we started fast and played how we played during the times we had momentum, the game would definitely have been ours,” Harris said. “We know that we were the better team and we should have won the game.”
The Elis next play Penn, a team that lost to the Rams by two touchdowns just three weeks ago, at the Yale Bowl on Friday night.