Thousands of Yale students made their way to Cambridge earlier this month to witness Yale football’s upset victory over Harvard in the 133rd installment of the Yale-Harvard Game. And for many Yalies, this year’s football season will not soon be forgotten.
The Bulldogs went into the game at 2–7 to face a 7–2 Harvard squad and were written off by many students before the game. Even students who attended the game did not anticipate Yale beating Harvard for the first time since 2006.
Abigail Hopkins ’20 said that although she did not expect the Bulldogs to win, she still traveled to Cambridge to support the team and be with her friends. Max Bryski ’17 said that he would not let himself believe Yale had won until the clock struck zero.
Despite low expectations, students had a robust showing in the 3,000-seat Yale student section of Harvard Stadium. Jeremy Makins, Yale’s senior associate athletics director, told the News earlier this month that Yale students purchased more than 2,400 tickets alone on the first day tickets were available. In 2014 — the last time The Game was played in Cambridge — student tickets sold out in less than two days. In 2012, 250 Yale student tickets went unsold.
According to Adam Lowet ’18, who is the president of the Whaling Crew — a student organization whose mission is to build community around Yale athletics — the general feeling among the student body leading up to The Game this year was different from in years past.
“This year I don’t think it was any secret leading up to The Game that we were pretty heavy underdogs,” Lowet said. “It definitely added to the experience that we came into The Game with so many people doubting us, and it made it even that much better to be a fan in the Yale section.”
Lowet added that there was an atmosphere of unification in the student section during The Game, as thousands of Yale students came together in support of their team.
The Yale student section was loud and rowdy throughout The Game, especially during key plays. Defensive end Matthew McCabe ’20 said Yale students served as a rallying point for the team.
“Any game where the students come out in that force to support the team is a special one,” McCabe said. “It gives us energy.”
The victory came at a time when the Elis were just 2–4 in Ivy League play and needed to fend off their archrival Harvard to prevent the Crimson from winning a fourth-straight Ivy League title. McCabe added that this victory sets the tone for a successful season next year, and he called the termination of the nine-season drought “reviving.”
For the Yale College class of 2017, the victory over Harvard comes as the first such football victory in their undergraduate careers. Grant Mueller ’17, who attended The Game, described the win as “euphoric,” noting how he felt after seeing the faces of seniors on the team who leave the Yale football program with such a momentous win.
The victory came just days after the Athletic Department announced Yale’s newest mascot, Handsome Dan XVIII.
“Things are looking up for Handsome Dan,” Mueller said.