After losing its first game of the season, the Yale football team returns home on Saturday looking to get back to winning ways. The Bulldogs (3–1, 1–1 Ivy) will take on a Holy Cross team (2–4, 1–1 Patriot) that has lost three games in a row, albeit against quality competition. In order to remain undefeated at home, Team 145 will need to get to Crusaders’ quarterback Peter Pujals, score early and often and avoid drawing the yellow flags.

Breach enemy lines

The offensive line’s success in keeping a clean pocket has been crucial to Pujals’ impressive stats this season. Following a season in which its signal-caller was sidelined due to injury, Holy Cross has been successful in minimizing hits on its star quarterback. In fact, the Crusaders have allowed only 11 sacks in six contests. If the Bulldogs plan to slow down the NFL prospect, putting the fifth-year senior under pressure and denying him time to find his receivers will be a crucial element. The Bulldogs’ ability to apply pressure will help determine whether a secondary that struggled against Dartmouth, allowing 310 yards in the air, will sink or swim. The defensive front has enjoyed success so far this season, with an Ivy League-leading 18 sacks in four games, and will be put to the test again on Saturday.

Get Rolling at the Bowl

In its only home matchup of the season versus Cornell, the Yale football team struggled to replicate the prolific starts it produced on the road this season. Against Lehigh, Fordham and Dartmouth, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents in the first quarter by a combined score of 42–7. However, the Big Red drove down the field on the game’s first offensive series to take an early lead and the Elis’ offense failed to produce any points in the opening stanza. Despite leading 14–10 at the half against an overmatched Cornell squad, the slow start allowed the Big Red to hang around up until late in the fourth quarter in a game the Bulldogs had dominated in all aspects.

Play clean

Although the Bulldogs have significantly cut down on penalties since they committed 25 infractions in their first two games, a crucial roughing the passer penalty on a third-down incompletion kept Dartmouth’s penultimate scoring drive alive, and by extension the game. Just two plays later, the opposition scored on a 40-yard receiving touchdown to cut Yale’s lead to six points, before the Big Green found the endzone again with less than a minute to go. The personal foul catalyzed Dartmouth’s comeback effort in a second half bereft of offense. Against a quality team like Holy Cross, the Bulldogs cannot afford self-inflicted wounds, especially if they build a sizable lead early on.

Won Jung | won.jung@yale.edu

Joey Kamm | joseph.kamm@yale.edu