Lehigh, 56–28 Win

Team 145 started the season strong with a big offensive performance against Lehigh, a team that crushed the Bulldogs a season ago. Quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 threw four touchdowns and completed 20 of 26 passes, which catapulted him to an Ivy Offensive Player of the Week award. Yale attacked on the ground and threw the air, as it threw for 308 yards and rushed for 258 yards. This was Yale’s most productive day offensively since the 2003 season opener against Towson, which Yale won 62–28. It wasn’t just the skill players who got involved, as the Yale offensive line prevented Lehigh from getting any sacks. A statement win to start the season, the victory displayed Yale’s offensive strength as and their status as a contender in upcoming league play.

Cornell, 49–24 Win

The Elis logged a second win in its home opener and first Ivy-matchup against Cornell, with another strong offensive performance. Team 145 led 14–10 at the half, yet would go on to score four more touchdowns, two of which were on the ground. Running backs Deshawn Salter ’18 and Zane Dudek ’21 ran for a staggering total of 342 yards, 287 of which were in the second half. Rawlings completed 10 of his 17 passes, logging 123 yards for the game. Big Red quarterback Dalton Banks had a strong showing, throwing for 272 yards. The Big Red offense was kept in check, however, as the Yale defense registered six sacks. Safety Hayden Carlson ’18 put a stamp on the victory with a pick-six.

Fordham, 41–10 Win

The Bulldogs produced one of their best performances to date against the Rams, a game in which the offense continued to dominate while the defense shut down the Patriot League powerhouse Fordham. The Yale defense limited Fordham to only 300 total yards, and corralled their star running back Chase Edmonds. The offense, meanwhile, produced 416 yards; Salter and Dudek led the offense once again, as the dynamic duo combined for five scores in the game. The season before, Team 144 lost to Fordham 44–37 in the Bronx.

Dartmouth, 28–27 Loss

In their fourth game, the Bulldogs suffered their first and only loss of the season thus far, at the hands of Dartmouth. Yale dominated the first half, scoring three touchdowns and establishing a strong 24–7 lead against the then-fourth-best defense in the FCS. However, the Bulldogs’ lost their momentum coming out of the locker room for the second half, as the offense managed only a field goal in the second half, while the defense crumbled in the last six minutes. The Big Green logged two touchdowns after successful passes by Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan. Highlighted by a devastating incomplete ruling against tight end Jaeden Graham ’18 to start the second half, and a roughing the passer call on a third down in the fourth quarter, the narrow loss dashed Yale’s chances at a perfect season. Wide receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18 logged 10 catches for 146 yards and a score in the loss.

Holy Cross, 32–0 Win

Yale bounced back from a heartbreaker at Dartmouth to demolish  Holy Cross, a clinical performance that ultimately ended in the firing of Crusaders’ head coach Tom Gilmore. The Holy Cross offense was limited to an abysmal 143 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs’ defensive performance was led by Matthew Oplinger ‘18, who had a career first half in which he recorded three sacks and registered a safety on quarterback Peter Pujals, an NFL prospect, to make the score 19–0 at the end of the first half. The victory brought Yale to a 4–1 record: more wins through five games than it had all of last season.

Penn, 24–19 Win

In one of its narrowest wins of the season, the Bulldogs moved to 5–1 after overcoming three, separate deficits to defeat the Quakers. The victory was made possible by a touchdown catch by Williams-Lopez in the last five minutes, followed by a decisive defensive stop. Rawlings logged 11 rushes for 80 of Yale’s 217 rushing yards and completed 19 of 27 passes for 199 yards. Dudek led the team on the ground with 103 rushing yards, beginning his streak of four-straight Ivy Rookie of the Week awards. Defensively, the Bulldogs held Penn’s offense to 297 yards and forced three turnovers. The victory in Philadelphia set Yale up for its most important match of the season to that point:, against the then-undefeated Columbia.

Columbia, 23–6 Win

The Yale defense continued to show its strength and its vast improvement from last season in the bout against the Lions, which saw the Elis hold Columbia to just 206 yards of total offense. Oplinger produced another dominant showing, registering two and a half sacks. The win proved important for many reasons; it vaulted Team 145 into a tie atop the Ivy League standings, but also marked the football program’s 900th win since its founding, as only Michigan and Notre Dame have more wins. Dudek stole the show on offense once again, matching his season high of 173 rushing yards. The win brought the Bulldogs to a 6–1 record, 3–1 in the Ivy League.

Brown, 34–7 Win

The Bulldogs kept their winning streak alive with a thrashing of the Bears, moving the team to 7–1 overall. Rawlings threw for 294 yards and two scores, while Dudek  — in his first collegiate start due to an injury to Salter — rolled to 165 yards on the day and eluded Bears’ defenders for three touchdowns. The Yale defense held Brown running back David Moodie to just 57 rushing yards. Yale dominated the game, possessing the ball nearly 10 minutes longer than Brown and holding the team to a single touchdown. Yale’s clinical performance moved the team one step closer to the league title, giving it the highest chance of winning the title of any team in the league.

Princeton, 35–31 Win

The Bulldogs won by their narrowest margin of the season in heroic fashion to clinch a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 2006. The Elis trailed by a score of 24–7 in the second quarter, but clawed their way back into the game. The barn-burner of a game included four lead changes over the remaining quarter and a half, in which Dudek rushed for three touchdowns and a season high 180 yards. Rawlings threw for 304 yards and two scores, while his Princeton counterpart, Chad Kanoff, threw for 454 yards and four touchdowns. Only 14 yards of total offense separated the two teams, as both squads put up over 500 yards. Yet the Elis had 20 more minutes of possession, as a result of their dominant run game and quick scoring by the Tigers. Going into The Game, the Bulldogs have an 8–1 record overall and a five-game win streak, and have outscored their opponents by an average of 19 points per contest.

Niki Anderson | niki.anderson@yale.edu

Nick Tabio | nick.tabio@yale.edu