Samad Hakani, Photography Editor

The Elis (7–3, 5–2 Ivy) closed out their season with a decisive 23–18 win over Harvard (8–2, 5–2 Ivy) in front of a crowd of 51,127 fans at the Yale Bowl, earning a share of the Ivy League Championship and individual awards, honors and recognitions in the weeks following their victory. 

The Bulldogs have had an exciting couple of weeks following their victory over the Crimson during The Game on Nov. 18, naming their Team 151 Captain and earning a variety of honors to close out the 2023 season. 

“I am most proud of how this team came together when it mattered the most,” Team 150 captain and defensive back Wande Owens ’24 said. “We had a rocky start, but we kept at it, found our identity, and latched onto it. The season is never easy, and I am very proud of our resilience and ability to withstand the rain.”

The Blue and White saw success on both sides of the ball during the 2023 season. Offensively, Yale finished second in the Ivy League in scoring offense. Quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 led the league in passing touchdowns (22) and passing efficiency (149.6), while wide receiver Mason Tipton ’24 ranked first in the league and 10th in the FCS with 10 touchdown receptions as well as third with 786 receiving yards. 

Yale ranks first in the FCS in blocked punts (5), second in blocked kicks (6), fourth in 3rd down conversion percentage (.490), 13th in kickoff returns (23.00) and 18th in team passing efficiency (148.36).

Defensively, Yale had 129.8 yards per game of rushing defense, an average of 19.90 points per game in scoring defense. The Bulldogs rank 24th in the FCS in team passing efficiency defense (117.38) and had a total of 22.0 team sacks this season, ranking sixth in the FCS in tackles for loss (75.0). 

“I’m really proud of the team,” head coach Tony Reno said to Yale Athletics. “It wasn’t an easy season. We had to fight through so many things, and when we finally got a foothold, it was like we exploded.”

The annual postseason banquet was held on Sunday Nov. 19 following The Game at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. The team’s 26 seniors were honored at the Banquet, in addition to the announcement of the team captain of Team 151 and the team awards.  

Linebacker Dean Shaffer ’25 was elected captain of Team 151, which will play next year in the 2024 season. Shaffer has served as a leader within the linebacker group throughout his time at Yale and now will lead the entire team, following in Owens’ footsteps. 

“Dean has been a great leader for us as an underclassman,” Reno said to Yale Athletics. “There isn’t a better person than Dean to bring Team 151 together. I’m excited to see his growth as a captain.”

The Charles Lotus Award, awarded to the most valuable first-year player, was given to defensive back Osize Daniyan ’27, both the James Keppel Award for offensive players and the Jordan Olivar Award were given to wide receiver Mason Tipton ’24 and the Greg Dubinetz Award for linemen was given to defensive lineman Clay Patterson ’24 and offensive lineman Jonathon Durand ’24. 

Linebacker Joseph Vaughn ’24 and running back Spencer Alston ’24 earned the Chester J. LaRoche Award, offensive lineman Jonathan Mendoza ’24 and wide receiver Aidan Maloney ’24 earned the Frederic Woodrow “Woody” Knapp Memorial Trophy and kicker/punter Jack Bosman ’24 earned the Ledyard Mitchell Award for proficiency in kicking. 

Offensive lineman Kiran Amegadjie ’24 received the Ted Turner Award for interior linemen. 

“The moment this season that stands out to me as the most important was the week following the Cornell loss,” Owens said. “Personally, I was stressed about the team’s lack of success, and did some soul-searching with Coach Reno and the other leaders of this team to turn the season around both mentally and physically.”

Other awards given to players were the Hammer, Yale Football Captains, Special Teams, D-Line and Edwin Foster (“Ted”) Blair Awards, given to linebacker Jermaine Baker ’24, Owens, wide receiver Joey Felton ’24, Patterson and Vaughn, respectively. 

On Nov. 20, Vaughn was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row. During The Game, Vaughn had an interception and forced a fumble, in addition to a team-leading 10 tackles, which included seven solo stops and 1.5 for loss. Vaughn completed the season with 88 total tackles. 

Vaughn ranks first in the Ivy League with an average of 1.3 tackles for loss per game and ranked third with an average of 8.8 total tackles per game. Vaughn’s contributions and the efforts of the rest of the Bulldog defense limited Harvard to only 73 yards of rushing offense. 

“We had so many guys contribute,” Reno said to Yale Athletics. “There are names you don’t even know that made amazing contributions to this team whether it was on the scout team on a Tuesday or blocking a kick or running down a kickoff. That’s who we were.”

Defensive lineman Zion Dayne ’24, who blocked a punt for the second consecutive game, Daniyan, who broke up a pass and made four tackles and running back Joshua Pitsenberger ’26 who rushed for 99 yards were also listed on the Ivy Honor Roll. 

On Nov. 21, 14 members of Team 150 received All-Ivy recognition, with seven earning First Team All-Ivy, two earning Second Team All-Ivy, four earning Honorable Mention All-Ivy and one earning Academic All-Ivy recognition. 

Offensively, Amegadjie, Mendoza, Tipton and Grooms all earned First Team All-Ivy. Patterson,Vaughn and Owens all were named as First Team All-Ivy defense. 

“I am most proud of the resiliency that Team 150 showed throughout the season,” Shaffer said. “Starting off a season with two consecutive losses is a very disheartening way to kick the season off, but the team was able to bounce back and put together a championship season. A very impressive feat that took a lot of dedication and hard work from our guys.”

Tight end Jackson Hawes ’24 and Pitsenberger were named Second Team All-Ivy Offensive players, and offensive lineman Michael Bennett ’26, defensive lineman Alvin Gulley, Jr. ’25, linebacker Hamilton Moore ’24 and defensive back Sean Guyton ’25 received Honorable Mention All-Ivy recognition. Durand was also selected Academic All-Ivy. 

On Nov. 27, the New England Football Writers Association announced their 2023 All-New England team, which honors the best Division I players by position in New England every season. They recognized Vaughn, Owens and Tipton. Owens ranks second on the team in tackles, behind Vaughn, with 55. 

“I am looking forward to discovering what the identity of Team 151 will be,” Shaffer said. “Each team at Yale has a life and history of its own, so as we close out Team 150 it is important that we begin to uncover what Team 151’s identity will be as we begin our off-season.”

The Yale football team’s most recent accomplishment was on Nov. 28, when Grooms was named a finalist, alongside Brown wide receiver Wes Rockett, for the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. Grooms received the honor last year, and winning the award this year made him the second player in Yale history and the sixth in league history to do so. 

During the 2023 season, Grooms ranked first in the league with 22 passing touchdowns and had a total of 2,451 yards of offense — 1,863 yards throwing and 588 rushing. 

The Bushnell Cup recipient is determined by the Ivy League’s eight head football coaches and is given to the player who demonstrates leadership, competitive spirit, team contribution and accomplishments in play. 

“Team 151 feels motivated and ready to begin our journey,” Shaffer said. “I am extremely excited to help lead this team into our off-season training.”

The Ivy League Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year will be announced at the New York Athletic Club on Dec. 11 at a press conference and reception co-hosted by the National Football Foundation (NFF) and the Ivy League. 

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.