MANHATTAN, N.Y. – John Herubin had not scored a touchdown since he was a middle school quarterback in Coppell, Texas. The junior defensive tackle scooped up a fumble and sprinted 61 yards in the second quarter to give the Yale football team the game's first points. The score was crucial in the Elis' 31-23 win over Columbia at Wien Stadium.
Herubin, who converted Foye Oluokun's forced fumble, was part of a Yale defense that forced five turnovers and kept the Lions off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter.
"I saw the end zone, and I was booking as fast as I could," said Herubin, who had three tackles. "A was afraid they [official] were going to blow the play dead. I don't get to touch the ball too often."
The story on the other side was freshmen impact, which included the emergence of quarterback Kurt Rawlings, who entered the game on Yale's first possession of the second quarter. Rawlings threw three touchdown passes and ran for 46 yards while helping the visitors put up 24 points in the second quarter.
Oluokun knocked the ball free from Columbia running back Tanner Thomas before Herubin got to the end zone with 14:15 left in the second. A few minutes later, the Lions muffed a punt that was recovered by linebacker Matthew Oplinger deep in the home end. That led to a 12-yard, slant-route scoring pass from Rawlings to senior receiver Myles Gaines to go up two scores.
The Elis (2-5, 2-2 Ivy) made it 21-0 when senior receiver Robert Clemons hauled in a 15-yard pass in the back corner of the end zone 6:33 before the intermission.
The Yale defense, led by senior end Marty Moesta's three sacks, kept coming up with big stops, like interceptions by junior Jason Alessi and sophomore Marquise Peggs. Another stop allowed the Bulldogs to put up more points before the half.
"I'm proud of our defense playing more cohesively, all 11 guys were working together. The defensive line was doing what it was coached to do, and we were winning the one-on-one battles," said Moesta.
The key play on the drive was a 38-yard run by Rawlings that set up Alex Galland's 30-yard field goal with 4:14 left. Galland also had an excellent (3 inside the 20) day punting on a windy and cold night on Robert K. Kraft Field.
Columbia's blitzing defense caused all kinds of problems for the Eli offense and starting quarterback Tre Moore in the opening quarter. That's why Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach decided to go to the freshman from Maryland. Rawlings, who sprinted out to both sides and avoided any sacks, got the Bulldogs a 31-0 lead on a Lions blitz early in the fourth.
"You have to go with your gut instincts. We thought it was time to go to Kurt," said Reno about his rookie signal-caller. "He had a good presence for us. He did a great job to spark us."
On a third down from the Columbia 11-yard line, Rawlings, who had a 65-yard scoring pass called back because of a penalty in the third quarter, escaped the pocket and then threw a pass over the middle to Leo Haenni. The senior tight end went up and beat a defensive back to the pass a few steps into the end zone.
"You never know [when you are going to be called to go in]. I'm thankful for the opportunity. We've been pushing each other in practice and I think it shows," said Rawlings, whose three TD passes went to three different seniors.
The newcomer offensive theme was supported by starting tailback Alan Lamar, who had a 25-yard run and finished with 66 overall. Then there was receiver Reed Klubnik's team-high five catches for 52 yards. His electric, 65-yard pass play was the one called back when a Yale receiver was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet block.
"This was a complete effort in all three phases," said Reno. "I am proud of the kids and very happy to get out of there with a win."
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org