Yale Athletics

The Bulldogs (3–3, 1–2 Ivy) competed in two home games over the past two weeks, defeating Sacred Heart (1–7, 1–4 NEC) in a 31–3 victory on Oct. 14 and falling 27–17 to the University of Pennsylvania (5–1, 2–1 Ivy) on Oct. 21. 

The Elis continued their winning streak in their final non-conference game against Sacred Heart, where Yale’s scoring remained unanswered until the third quarter, when the Pioneers managed to tally a single field goal. However, the game was up in the air until the final five minutes in its matchup against Penn.

“The Sacred Heart game was a hard fought game, and all of the games to come will be as well,” team captain and defensive back Wande Owens ’24 said. “We rode the ebbs and flows of a football game well, remaining even keel and playing complimentary football even when in unfavorable situations.”

In the matchup against Sacred Heart, the Blue and White added a touchdown within three minutes of kickoff. Quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 threw a 40-yard pass to wide receiver Mason Tipson ’24, and kicker/punter Jack Bosman ’24 added the extra point. 

In the second quarter, a high snap on a Yale punt gave Sacred Heart a first-and-goal at the Yale 7, leaving the Bulldogs in a vulnerable position. Soon after, however, linebacker Inumidun Ayo-Durojaiye ’25 recovered a forced fumble by linebacker Hamilton Moore ’24 at the Yale 2 to keep the Pioneers off the board.

“We did a really nice job capitalizing at the end of the first half,” head coach Tony Reno said to Yale Athletics. “We didn’t quite have the success we wanted to start the third quarter, but we were resilient and had some big plays to close the game out.”

Just over six minutes into the second quarter, Tipton made a 15-yard run into the endzone, capping a 98-yard drive and securing his second touchdown of the afternoon.

Less than seven minutes later, Grooms completed a 7-yard pass to wide receiver Ryan Lindley ’24, lifting Yale’s lead to 21–0. 

“Adversity is a part of every football game, and I am proud of the way we stood tall in the face of it this past week,” Owens said. “Defensively we played well in the red zone, giving our offense the ball back, but also the reassurance that we have their back. Offensively we capitalized on turnovers, even putting together a 98-yard drive after a forced fumble in the second quarter.”

The Pioneers only managed to answer back once — with a field goal 9:20 into the second half. Kicker Sam Renzi booted a 19-yard field goal, earning Sacred Heart its only points of the game. 

In the fourth quarter, the Pioneers were determined to continue scoring, making a drive into Yale’s side of the 50. Nonetheless, Pioneer quarterback Rob McCoy attempted a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Joseph Vaughn ’24 and returned to the SHU 6. 

“It’s been all about establishing an identity and what works for this team,” Grooms said to Yale Athletics. “I think we have a good idea now so I’m excited to get ready for the Ivy League gauntlet.”

After the Bulldogs reestablished dominance, under two minutes into the final quarter, Grooms completed a 2-yard pass to wide receiver Mason Shipp ’25 to raise the score to 28–3.

With 3:35 remaining on the clock, Bosman kicked a 42-yard field goal to add three more points to the final score, closing out the victory for the Blue and White. 

“I’m really proud of the team,” Reno said to Yale Athletics. “We’ve put together three good weeks of practice. It starts there, and it’s starting to show on the field on Saturdays.”

In their game against Penn the following Saturday, the Bulldogs saw a much tighter game yet continued to fight for a win until the final whistle. 

Penn running back Malachi Hosley, who was named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List for Football Championship Subdivision freshman of the year earlier last week, started off the scoring with a 13-yard run under six minutes into the first period. Hosley set career highs in carries and yards with 20 rushes for 86 yards by the end of the game. 

“We’re rebounding from a tough loss on Saturday,” Reno told the News. “I think the team’s handled it really well. Like anything else, it’s a great opportunity for us to learn and respond from where we were on Saturday.”

Less than five minutes later, Yale answered back with a 72-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass from Grooms to running back Joshua Pitsenberger ’26 to level the score. 

In the second quarter, Penn defensive back Logan Nash picked off Grooms at the Penn 31, setting up  the Quakers to then reestablish their lead with a 33-yard field goal by kicker Graham Gotlieb. 

Four minutes later, however, Grooms tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass, his 14th of the season, to tight end Jackson Hawes ’24, putting the Bulldogs in the lead for the first and only time during the contest. Bosman added the extra point. 

“If it’s a rainy game, that’s a good thing for us, is kind of our mindset, because we know we’re going to be better in that rain than the other team on that field,” Bosman said. “You really look at it as it’s going to be a positive for us, and this year has been a lot of positives, so that’s nice.”

With 4:07 remaining in the half, Penn quarterback Aidan Sayin completed a 3-yard pass to wide receiver Jared Richardson, raising the score to 17–14, with Penn in the lead. Richardson made 17 receptions, breaking Penn’s single-game school-record for receptions, for 191 yards, his career high, throughout the contest. 

The third quarter remained scoreless until the final two minutes, when Gotlieb, who is now 9-for-11 in field goals, managed to kick another field goal, this time 28 yards, to secure another three points for the Quakers.

“[In past losses] I think a lot of us were trying to be different people, trying to be Superman,” linebacker Jermaine Baker ’24 said. “[Focusing on] founding relationships, effort and earning wins, ever since, we’ve been engaged in practice with those three things … and ultimately, I think that has just been all the difference.”

In an effort to regain the lead, Yale took back possession in the final frame, and after Grooms was rushed into an incomplete pass, Bosman capped a 65-yard drive with a 23-yard field goal, bringing Yale within three points of Penn.

To the Bulldogs’ dismay, Sayin made a 15-yard pass to tight end Bryce Myers to secure the win for Penn with 4:26 remaining in the game. By the end of the game, Sayin threw for a career-high 364 yards and two touchdowns, which helped Penn win at Yale for the first time since 2016. 

“These Ivy League games … come down to a few plays here and there and opportunities in the fourth quarter,” Reno said. “We really didn’t execute as well as we needed to in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”

Defensively, Quaker linebacker Jack Fairman led his team with 10 tackles, linebacker John Lista had two tackles for a loss and linebacker Kadari Machen and defensive lineman Jack Iuliano each recorded a sack. 

The Yale defense also saw success despite the loss. Vaughn ended the game with 12 tackles and a sack, Moore finished with nine tackles and Owens had four tackles, with one for loss. 

“The focus for us is on having a great week of practice and executing better during the week so that we can carry that over on Saturday,” Reno said. “It’s much more about us not executing than our opponents executing. That’s something that we can control.” 

The Bulldogs will face Columbia this Saturday in their first of four straight conference matchups. The game will kickoff at noon at the Yale Bowl and will be streamed on ESPN+ and NESN. 

Amelia Lower covers football, men's ice hockey and men's lacrosse. She is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College from Rye, New York, double-majoring in Spanish and the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health.