After winning just two of its first eight games, the Yale football team looked to send its seniors off with a win in their final home game at the Yale Bowl. But Princeton, still in contention for the Ivy League title, dominated the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball en route to a 31–3 victory.
The Tigers’ (7–2, 5–1 Ivy) Ivy-League leading offense and defense proved insurmountable for the Elis (2–7, 2–4). Princeton held Yale’s offense to just 200 total yards and 36 net rushing yards. Though the Bulldog secondary played its best game of the season for the second week in a row, limiting the Tigers to just 175 passing yards, the rush defense allowed 157 yards and four touchdowns.
“Princeton is a really good football team and they’ve been really consistent throughout the league all year long,” head coach Tony Reno said. “Defensively we played a really good game aside from a couple mistakes and we held them to 17 points through three quarters. Offensively we weren’t able to get anything going and we played very young.”
The Tigers pounced in their opening possession, scoring just two and a half minutes into the game on a 46-yard touchdown rush by running back AJ Glass. Explosive running plays have troubled the Bulldogs recently, as they also gave up a 52-yard rushing score in the first quarter last Saturday against Brown.
The Yale defense redeemed itself two possessions later as safety Hayden Carlson ’18 picked off the Tigers. Carlson returned his interception, his fourth of the season, down to the Princeton 10-yard line. However, the Elis could not convert on the perfect field position and had to settle for a field goal by Alex Galland ’19.
Yale struggled move the ball offensively, mustering just 86 total yards in the first half. Quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 made his second start of the season but had little time to throw the ball as Princeton sacked him four times in the first 30 minutes. Five Yale drives in the first half ended in punts, while the Tigers extended their lead to 10–3 on a 40-yard field goal with 9:09 remaining in the second quarter.
In the final minute of the second quarter, Princeton wide receiver Jesper Horsted slipped behind the Yale defense and quarterback Chad Kanoff found him for a 48-yard completion that took the ball down to the Elis’ two-yard line. Lovett rushed in for the touchdown on the next play and the Tigers took a 17–3 lead into halftime.
The teams exchanged punts three times to start the second half as the field position battle continued. Though neither team scored in the third quarter, Princeton opened the fourth quarter with a five-minute touchdown drive. Yale’s defense had several chances to get off the field, but was stranded by a third-down pass interference penalty and a Princeton conversion on fourth down. Lovett capped off the possession with a one-yard touchdown run, his second rushing score of the game.
In desperate need of a score, Yale instead turned the ball over on its next possession. Princeton safety Dorian Williams came on a third-down blitz and drilled Rawlings, who fumbled the ball and the Tigers recovered.
Princeton used the short field to its advantage as Lovett ran for his third touchdown of the game to extend the lead to 28 points. Yale could not get anything going offensively in its final drive, and Princeton ended the game on a kneel.
Yale’s 1–4 home record marks the first time since 2012, Reno’s first season as head coach, that the Bulldogs managed just one victory at the Yale Bowl. If the Elis fall to Harvard next weekend, it will be their first 2–8 season since that same 2012 campaign.