FOOTBALL: Bulldogs down Tigers, keeping championship hopes alive
The Yale football team defeated the Princeton Tigers in a tightly-contested game that moves the Bulldogs into a tie for first-place in the Ivy League.
The Yale football team (7–2, 5–1 Ivy) handed the Princeton University Tigers (8–1, 5–1 Ivy) their first loss of the season in a 24–20 win on Nov 12.
Saturday’s win moves the Bulldogs into a tie for first place in the Ivy League with the Tigers, as each team only has one conference loss. This means the Bulldogs’ season will be decided next Saturday in the Yale-Harvard game, when Team 149 visits Cambridge. If Yale wins, they will earn at least a share of the Ivy League title.
In a battle of two of the Ivy League’s best teams, the game came down to the final play, when the Yale defense forced an incompletion on a Princeton throw to win the game.
“If you want to win high-level Ivy League football games, you have to be ready to win on the last play,” head coach Tony Reno said to Yale Athletics. “We work in practice on it, our guys believe it and they were ready to make it happen. I can’t express how proud I am of this football team.”
The first quarter of the game was scoreless. Yale, however, broke the seal in the second quarter. Just over three minutes into the period, running back Joshua Pitsenberger ’26 ran it in from the 1-yard line to cap off a 12-play, 50-yard drive. Kicker Jack Bosman ’24 added the extra point.
The rushing touchdown would be a sign of success to come for the Bulldogs rushing attack as they totaled 297 yards in the game.
Quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 did most of his damage on the ground, leading the team with 152 rushing yards and throwing for 65 yards. Pitsenberger added 108 of his own rushing yards and running back Tre Peterson ’24 tacked on 37, as well.
Following two Princeton touchdown passes, the teams entered halftime with the Tigers leading 14–7.
Slightly over four minutes into the second half, Yale tied up the score when Grooms threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chase Nenad ’24.
“From special teams, to offense, to defense, the whole team did their part to secure a big victory,” Nenad said. “We have a lot of momentum right now, and I hope we can carry that energy into next week.”
On the ensuing possession, Princeton attempted to convert a fourth-and-two at their own 44-yard line. However, the Yale defense stuffed the run, getting the ball back with great field position. The Bulldogs took advantage, leading to a 44-yard Bosman field goal to give the Bulldogs the lead.
The defense then forced another stop, and Yale extended their lead to 24–14 on the resulting possession, capped off when Grooms scampered 19 yards into the endzone.
Unwilling to concede, Princeton tried to even the score in the fourth quarter. With 10:42 left in the game, Princeton quarterback Blake Stenstrom threw his third touchdown of the game, but Yale defensive lineman Adam Raine ’23 made a play to block the extra point and keep the Bulldogs’ lead at four points.
Yale’s offense struggled to move the ball in the fourth frame. However, defensive back Brandon Benn ’24 intercepted a pass with 3:20 left to preserve the lead. The Bulldogs then picked up one first down as they tried to run out the clock, but the Tigers’ defense forced another punt.
Princeton regained possession with 1:35 left in the game, starting their final push from their own 20-yard line. The Tigers refused to go down without a fight, as they drove the ball down the field until they found themselves at the Yale 15-yard line with time for one final play.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, the red zone defense that has proven to be strong throughout the year showed up again, forcing an incompletion and sealing a Yale win.
“The offense is going to change up their offense down there,” starting cornerback Wande Owens ’23 said. “The field is three times as wide as it is long, so you have got to be able to defend trick plays and really be technically sound. I think we’ve done a really good job of that.”
The story of the game for Princeton was Stenstrom, who accounted for nearly all of the Tigers’ offensive production. With the Yale defense limiting Princeton’s running backs to only 13 yards rushing all game, Stenstrom ran for 63 yards and was 34–52 throwing the ball for 367 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Benn accounted for both of the Yale defense’s interceptions, and linebacker Joseph Vaughn ’23 made a team-high nine tackles. Defensive linemen Alvin Gulley ’25 and Clay Patterson ’24 each recorded a sack for the Bulldogs.
As the final whistle blew, Yale’s 7,500-person home crowd went wild.
The Blue and White are entering next weekend tied with Princeton for first place in the Ivy League, each tallying only one Ivy loss in their season. Harvard and Penn are tied for second with four wins and two losses.
The Game is set to have a noon kickoff in Cambridge and will be televised on ESPN