Josh Chough

While the Yale football team came out firing to begin the game, it would be Harvard that would dominate much of the first half.

Quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 was gunslinging early, finding receiver Jauylan Sanidfer ’22 on the first play of the opening drive for a 50-yard gain. In the Red Zone, however, Rawlings held onto the ball for an ill-advised amount of time, leading to a sack and loss of 16 yards. The Bulldogs would be content with a field goal attempt, which kicker Sam Tuckerman ’20 resoundingly put through the uprights to make it 3–0. However, the Crimson would immediately respond with a 60-yard play on its first drive to set up the offense in Yale territory. The Eli defense would nevertheless hold steady and only conceded a field goal to tie the game at three. 

Rawlings, on a combination of swift lateral passes and run-pass option plays to counter Harvard’s intense pass rush had the offense driving on Team 147’s ensuing drive. Yet, the team sputtered in the Red Zone and were forced to go for the field goal again. Tuckeman would not be as successful on his second field goal attempt, coming up 10 yards short of the upright to close out the first quarter.

Harvard opened up second quarter action with a series of long, burstful runs to set up in Bulldog territory for the second straight time. Yet, disaster would strike on a second-and-short for the  Crimson, as the snap went well over the outstretched arms of quarterback Jake Smith, resulting in a Crimson punt.

The defensive lines came out hungry on the next two drives of the game, with both Rawlings and Smith facing intense pressure and making unwonted mistakes — stalling drives in eaches own territory. After a Crimson pint pinned Yale behind its own 20-yard line, Rawlings threw an untimely interception to set the Harvard offense up with excellent field position. Ten seconds later, Smith would fully capitalize with a 30-yard run — filled with blocks that would make any offensive coordinator proud — into the endzone for six. The score would hold at 9–3, however, as the Blue and Whit got a hand on the extra-point attempt to block it. 

After an Eli punt, Smith was commanding his offense into Yale territory yet again., However, it would be Team 147’s secondary that would get in on the turnover action, with defensive back Melvin Rouse ’21 intercepting smiths pass at the goal line to get the pigskin back into the hands of Rawlings. It appeared that the park had been lit under the offense, as Rawlings began to expose gaps in the Crimson defend with his own two legs. However, deep into Crimson territory, the best pass rush in the Ivy League struck again, as Rawlings was sacked for the 3rd time on the day, fumbling the ball into the extending grasp of Crimson defender. 

Harvard would be the team to capitalize on the turnover, putting together a 72-yard drive that finished with receiver Aidan Borguet running 47 yards down the field and past the pylon for a touchdown — putting the visiting Crimson up 15-3 over Yale. The Bulldogs would be content with running out the clock to close out the quarter and headed to the locker room with their first halftime deficit since a matchup against Richmond more than a month ago.

Jared Fel | jared.fel@yale.edu