Colgate, 55–13 Loss
The Yale football team’s season got off to a rough start, as Team 144 fell to Colgate in its largest margin of defeat thus far. Colgate quarterback Jake Melville threw for five touchdowns and picked up 343 of his team’s 558 yards. The Bulldogs’ secondary played several players in different position, though kept safety Hayden Carlson ’18 in his normal position, where he recorded a season-high 14 tackles and tallied two turnovers. The Raiders defense held the Yale offense, which was quarterbacked primarily by Rafe Chapple ’18, to just 188 yards. The Elis were still finding their identity offensively, as they utilized three different quarterbacks and the running backs only got 15 carries between them, the lowest total of the season. The Yale offense did not put itself in the best position to succeed, surrendering four interceptions and five sacks.
Cornell, 27–13 Loss
The Bulldogs dropped to 0–2 for the first time in 19 years with their loss to Cornell, but both the offensive and defensive units improved upon their showings from the previous week. Foye Oluokun ’17 made an impact in his season debut, though he appeared at linebacker instead of his usual safety position. The Yale defense allowed only a field goal in the second half, after being gashed through the air by Big Red quarterback Dalton Banks in the first two quarters— the Big Red signal caller would finish with 306 yards and two touchdowns. The offense made a big switch, replacing Chapple with Tre Moore ’19 in the second half. Moore delivered 174 passing yards in just two quarters, but the quarterback change was not enough to overcome a three-touchdown deficit at halftime.
Lehigh, 63–35 Loss
With the eighth-best offense in the Football Championship Subdivision, Lehigh was perhaps the toughest nonconference contest for the Bulldogs. Although Lehigh starting quarterback Nick Shafnisky was unable to play, backup Brad Mayes posted 524 yards and six touchdown passes. The Lehigh passing attack was simply too much for the Bulldogs, who did not have an answer for wide receiver Troy Pelletier. The All-Patriot League wideout, who is eighth in the FCS in receiving yards, posted 213 yards and three touchdowns against Yale with most of the damage coming in the first half. Offensively, Yale managed a promising 35 points in Moore’s first collegiate start, featuring 151 rushing yards from Deshawn Salter ’18 and 102 total yards and two scores from receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18.
Dartmouth, 21–13 Win
Yale finally got into the win column in Week 4, beating Dartmouth at the Yale Bowl. The story of the game was the breakout of running back Alan Lamar ’20, who quickly became the Bulldogs’ workhorse for the rest of the season. The freshman posted 180 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut after previously appearing only on special teams. Moore also delivered 181 passing yards, although he coughed up the ball twice. Williams-Lopez went down with an injury this game but was replaced by Myles Gaines ’17, who posted nine catches for 106 yards in just the second half. The pass defense still struggled, allowing Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan 348 yards. However, the group managed two interceptions and ceded a season-low 13 points to the Big Green, including just three in the second half.
Fordham, 44–37 Loss
The Elis’ Week 5 defeat at the hands of Fordham was one of the most promising performances of the 2016 campaign. The Bulldogs only fell by seven to the Rams, despite being matched up with the seventh-best offense in the FCS, which features Chase Edmonds — the best running back in the FCS and second in all of Division I college football in rushing yards. The Yale defense held Edmonds to just 121 yards, but were unable to stop Rams quarterback Kevin Anderson, who finished the game with 270 yards and five passing touchdowns. Offensively, Yale ran the ball effectively despite the absence of Lamar. Two-way player Dale Harris ’17 appeared at running back — a week after starting at cornerback — and posted 136 yards and four scores. Moore added 102 rushing yards of his own, but a third-quarter pick-six loomed large in the final box score.
Penn, 42–7 Loss
The’ Elis clobbering at the hands of Penn under the Yale Bowl lights six days later was surprising, given their performance against a more dangerous Fordham. The Quakers amassed 502 total yards of offense, including 262 yards on the ground against a previously solid Yale rush defense. Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen had an unstoppable connection in the first half with Justin Watson, the best wideout in the Ivy League, who posted 160 yards and three touchdowns on nine first-half catches. Offensively, Yale had a disappointing showing against a vulnerable Penn defense. Moore managed just 93 passing yards and completed 43 percent of his passes with two turnovers. The lone bright spot was the performance of Lamar, who returned from injury to tally 123 total yards and a score on 31 touches.
Columbia, 31–23 Win
Yale got back in the win column the next Friday in a victory under the lights in Manhattan. The Yale defense had one of its best performances of the season, holding the Columbia offense scoreless for three quarters and amassing five turnovers over the course of the game, one of which was a fumble returned for a score by defensive tackle John Herubin ’18. The unit slipped a bit in the fourth period. However, allowing three passing touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to quarterback Anders Hill. Despite tallying a respectable 23 points over the course of the game, the Yale offense never really got going, totaling just 249 total yards. After a stagnant first quarter for the Yale offense, quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 took over for Moore under center and finished with three touchdown passes, while Lamar posted 102 total yards.
Brown, 27–22 Loss
The loss to Brown was one of the most demoralizing defeats of the season for Yale, which fell to another struggling Ivy League opponent by its smallest margin of defeat of the season. Rawlings made his first collegiate start against Brown with mixed success — the freshman’s 252 yards was the highest passing total for a Yale quarterback this season, but he also threw two interceptions including one down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Yale was unable to hold off the Brown pass rush, which is tied with Harvard for the most sacks the Ivy League. Led by defensive end Richard Jarvis, the Bears defense managed four sacks and eight tackles for a loss. The Yale defense held Bears quarterback Thomas Linta to just 194 passing yards but surrendered 171 rushing yards in the process, most of which were courtesy of receiver Livingstone Harriott.
Princeton, 31–3 Loss
The Bulldogs finished off their pre-Game schedule with a loss to Princeton, who had both the highest scoring offense and stingiest defense. For the second week in a row, the Eli secondary had a solid performance, this time allowing the opposition only 175 yards through the air. However, the Tigers rush offense proved too much to handle, as they racked up 157 rush yards and four touchdowns, with three of those coming from Tigers’ second quarterback John Lovett. The Tigers’ utility man was used all over the offensive formation, attempting eight passes and 12 rushes while also making two catches. The young Yale offense simply could not get anything going, managing only 164 passing yards and 36 net rushing yards. Rawlings maintained a strong connection with Reed Klubnik ’20, who caught five passes for 63 yards, and Lamar totaled 59 yards but did not finish the game due to injury.