Courtesy of David Schamis

The Bulldogs (3–3, 1–2 Ivy) will face Columbia (2–4, 0–3 Ivy) at noon this Saturday at the Yale Bowl, their second of five consecutive conference games. 

The Blue and White earned a win against Sacred Heart University on Oct. 14 before suffering a loss to the University of Pennsylvania on Oct. 21. The Yale football team hopes to add another win to their season record when they continue conference play at the Yale Bowl this week against Columbia.

“Our goal is to be an elite team every year,” head coach Tony Reno said. “When you’re chasing something really high, it’s tough, it’s not easy, and you’re going to have moments of adversity … how you respond is the most important thing.”

The Elis have played the Lions 99 times since their first time playing each other in November 1872. Yale leads the series 75–22–2 and last played Columbia one year ago on Oct. 28, 2022. 

Last time the Bulldogs took on the Lions, Yale earned a 41–16 victory, marking its 16th win in its past 19 matchups. Quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 threw 346 yards, marking his career-high until he threw 363 yards in Yale’s recent game against Morgan State University on Sept. 30. Wide receiver Ryan Lindley ’24 caught six passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Chase Nenad ’24 had three receptions for 117 yards, one of which was a 19-yard touchdown interception. 

Yale’s defense also only allowed Columbia to rush a total of 70 yards, and in the third quarter, the Bulldogs did not allow a single Lion first down.

“Just making sure that we’re constantly getting good looks and giving good effort through … being good facilitators of information [for our younger players] is a big portion of our success as a defense,” linebacker Jermaine Baker ’24 said. “It just helps them translate into the game very well and smoothly.” 

In their most recent game this season, the Elis struggled against the Quakers, falling 27–17 and breaking their three-game winning streak. In the first quarter, running back Joshua Pitsenberger ’26 made a 3-yard touchdown reception, and tight end Jackson Hawes ’24 made a 9-yard touchdown reception to put Yale in the lead.

Penn, however, had strong offensive play throughout the game and ultimately prevailed. Quaker quarterback Aidan Sayin threw for 364 yards and two touchdowns, while wide receiver Jared Richardson broke Penn’s school-record with 17 receptions for 191 yards. 

“I feel strongly, in our three wins, we focused really well on ourselves during the week, and we performed really well on Saturday,” Reno said. “In our three losses, we didn’t execute well … it’s much more about us not executing than our opponents. That’s something we have got to control better this week.” 

Yale’s defense was solid throughout the contest against Penn, with linebacker Joseph Vaughn ’24 tallying 12 tackles and a sack, defensive back Wande Owens ’24 adding four tackles and linebacker Hamilton Moore ’24 notching nine. 

The Bulldogs look forward to adding another win to their season this Saturday against Columbia, another Ivy League team that has faced some adversity this season. 

“Columbia’s got a really good team,” Reno said. “They have a lot of talent in skill positions, and they’re very well coached.” 

Just over a month into their season, Columbia has tallied two wins and four losses, and it has a 0–3 conference record. The Lions fell 24–3 against Lafayette College on Sept. 16, 10–7 against Princeton on Sept. 29, 20–17 to Penn on Oct. 14 and 20–9 to Dartmouth on Oct. 21. The Lions added a few wins to their season as well: 30–0 against Georgetown University on Sept. 23 and 16–0 against Marist College on Oct. 7.

In their game against Penn, Columbia held a 14–10 lead throughout the third quarter, until Sayin made a 7-yard pass to wide receiver Bisi Owens — Wande Owens’ brother — to score a touchdown in the final period. Quaker kicker Graham Gotlieb secured the win for Penn with a 23-yard field goal. 

“When you come out and play as hard as we did and come up short, it’s tough,” interim head coach Mark Fabish said to Columbia Athletics after the game. “It’s a tough thing to swallow in the moment, but I couldn’t be prouder of how our guys go about their business, how hard they play and how much they give to each other.”

In their most recent game against Dartmouth, Columbia started off scoring, building a 9–0 lead in the first quarter before the Big Green turned up its offense and scored 20 unanswered points to secure the 20–9 win. 

Lions quarterback Joe Green started for the first time since Oct. 15, 2022, completing 25-of-41 passes for 239 yards, the majority of the team’s season-best 254 total passing yards. Running back Malcolm Terry also rushed for 62 yards — his career high — on 17 carries. 

“Obviously the starting quarterback was back on the field for the first time this season on Saturday at Dartmouth,” Reno said. “He was a rookie of the year in the league, one heck of a football player.”

Columbia allowed Dartmouth only 61 passing yards, the Lions’ season best, and linebacker Anthony Roussos led the defense with 12 tackles.

Columbia leads the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision in red-zone defense (.556) and scoring defense (12.3 ppg.).

Comparing the two teams’ records, Yale appears to have an edge. The Bulldogs tallied a 31–24 win against Dartmouth on Oct. 7, while the Lions lost 20–9. Both Yale and Columbia fell to Penn — Yale by a 10-point margin and Columbia by a three-point margin. 

“Sometimes you don’t get the outcome you want,” Reno said. “That means you have to work a little smarter, a little harder, to get it.”

Despite their most recent loss to Penn, the Elis have won three of their past four games, so they are ready to get back on track against Columbia this weekend. 

The Blue and White ranks 16th in the FCS and is second in the Ivy League in third down conversion percentage (.455). 

Wide receiver Mason Tipton ’24 leads the Ancient Eight and is fifth in the FCS with six touchdown catches, in addition to leading the league with his seven overall touchdowns. 

“It’s just a job to be able to play with these guys because they’re really level headed, and they really understand me as a player,” Baker said about his fellow linebackers. “It’s cool being able to just have faith in your teammates and know that they’ll be there.”

Grooms leads the Ivy League and is 13th in the FCS with 14 touchdown passes. In the past five games, Grooms has managed to throw at least two touchdown passes per game. 

Joseph Vaughn leads Team 150 and the Ivy League with an average of 5.8 solo tackles per game, which ranks 12th in the FCS. Vaughn’s 9.7 total tackles per game ranked him second in the Ivy League and 21st in the FCS

The Elis are ready to take on yet another conference opponent on their home field, looking to add a win to their season before they hit the road for their next two conference matchups against Brown and Princeton. Yale’s next home matchup, following Columbia, will be The Game against Harvard on Nov. 18. 

“We feel strongly that if you create a tight team and you create leaders, success happens,” Reno said. “The guys are really tight. They’ll support each other, they’ll challenge each other, they’ll be there for each other, and those are relationships they are going to have for the rest of their lives.”

The game will begin at noon on Saturday at the Yale Bowl and will be streamed live on ESPN+. 

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.