Bears, Bulldogs in Bowl

Bears, Bulldogs in Bowl

12:30 Kick Saturday


NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale football team is home for the second week in a row as the Brown Bears come to the Yale Bowl on Saturday. The 12:30 kickoff can be seen on Fox College Sports Atlantic and heard on the Yale Football Radio Network (ESPN AM-1300).

So much for home field advantage; the visiting team has won 14 of the last 19 meetings heading into the 120th between Yale and Brown. The Bulldogs may be up 80-34-5, but the Bears have won nine of the last 16. Of the 119 meetings, only 33 have come at Brown Stadium, where the Blue is 20-10-3. The two rivals met in New Haven 32 consecutive years (1926-57), and Yale has a 60-24-2 advantage at New Haven.

Trailing 20-7 in the second quarter, the Bulldogs scored 24 straight points to take a 31-20 lead, then held off several late Brown rallies to earn a 45-42 win at Providence. Tailback Tyler Varga '15 surpassed the 1,000-rushing yard mark for the season during the game, finishing with 204 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. That included five straight carries for 29 yards to enable Yale to run out the clock on its final drive.

Jason Alessi's 80-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter was the only score an injury-prone Yale could manage in a 17-7 loss to Columbia at the Bowl last week. The Elis, held to 120 yards of total offense and five first downs, had the ball for just 21 minutes.

The Bears began the season with two losses before winning four straight. Then Penn quarterback Alek Torgerson threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Quakers to a 48-28 win over Brown last week. The Bears got eight catches for 145 yards and a TD from receiver Alexander Jette, who is third in the FCS in receptions. Troy Doles, another receiver, had eight receptions for 98 yards. Senior quarterback Marcus Fuller, who leads the Ancient Eight in passing yards, completed 27-of-51 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns. However, he was intercepted four times. The defense was led by junior end Richard Jarvis, who had nine tackles.

Chris Smith '13 became the first Ivy player to return two kickoffs for TDs in a game during Yale's 27-24 win at Providence in 2010… The Elis played spoiler in 2008 against league unbeaten Brown and won 13-3 on the road. The clincher was a 78-yard pass play from Brook Hart '11 to Peter Balsam '11... Ralph Plumb '05 set a Yale record with 258 receiving yards in 2004 at Providence... The Bears and Bulldogs combined for a series-record 99 points in the 2003 game at Yale Bowl, a 55-44 Brown victory that included four TD grabs for Bear WR Lonnie Hill... DB Ben Blake '00 blocked Brown's PAT attempt in the closing seconds of the 1999 game as the visitors attempted to tie the game. However, Bear TB Mike Powell picked up the loose ball and lateraled to FB Rob Scholl, who rambled into the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 25-24 victory... WR Jake Borden '00 hauled in a 27-yard TD pass from Joe Walland '00 with six seconds left as Yale pulled out a 30-28 game at Providence in 1998... Chris Hetherington '96, a Yale QB who later became an NFL fullback, rushed for 166 yards and passed for 223 in a win over Brown in 1995... In a matchup of defending co-champions, Yale's goal-line stand prevented the Bruins from converting a first-and-goal from the two-yard line with under a minute to play in a 10-9 Eli victory at the Bowl in 1977... The two teams combined for 37 punts in a 1941 Brown (7-0) win.

The Yale defense gave up just 243 yards, 18 first downs and 17 points last week. The Elis, who recorded eight tackles for lost yardage, stopped 12 of 18 third-down plays while blanking an offense in the first quarter for a second straight week. Sophomore safety Hayden Carlson, for the second week in a row, led the blue in tackles with 12 overall.  

It's a game of injuries, but Yale has not seen this many go down in recent years. Forty-two players (27 regulars) have been injured or sick and missed action this season. At this point, 13 (3 regulars) are out for the season, but that is a soft number that could increase significantly as the season enters its final weeks. The offense, among the nation's best in 2014, has been hit hardest this fall. The Elis did lose three "record-book" offensive players to graduation last spring, so that side of the ball could not afford a litany of injuries. Yale's top two tailbacks were out last week, so were three starting receivers and a top offensive lineman.

Sophomore defensive back Jason Alessi, making his first start at corner this fall, scored Yale's only TD last Saturday on special teams. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native returned a first-half punt 80 yards to give the home team an early lead. It was the third longest punt return for a Bulldog and the first since 2011. Alessi has a league-best 13.4 average per return this fall, which includes a 44-yard return at Penn. He has also made 26 total tackles. So he is playing defense and special teams, but that's not all. Alessi played in all 16 Yale lacrosse games last spring and helped the Elis win the Ivy League Tournament as a member of the second midfield. He had six goals and 11 points.

Junior Candler Rich, who led Yale last year with a 7.5 average per carry, was Yale's 2015 starter in the backfield until he was lost to an injury in week two. Rich's best day as a Bulldog was 202 yards on 17 carries at Columbia last year. Sophomore Deshawn Salter stepped in for Rich in game three and rushed for 233 yards (5th best at Yale) and two scores at Lehigh. Salter was injured in the Penn game and missed last week's game at home. Austin Reuland, who made the move from WR last spring, replaced Salter in the second half at Penn. Reuland carried the ball 12 times for 61 yards including his first collegiate TD. He too needed help (last week), which got sophomore Jamal Locke his first collegiate rushing attempts while catching three passes.

WR Robert Clemons missed three straight games with an injury but didn't miss a beat as a starter in his return at Penn. The senior from Laguna Beach, Calif., caught six passes for 99 yards, including a 17-yard TD in the first half. He had four catches last week at home.

Harvard is alone atop the league standings at 4-0 after edging Dartmouth at Boston last Friday. The Crimson play at Columbia this week. The Big Green and Penn are 3-1 while Brown and Princeton are both 2-2. The Tigers and Quakers meet this Saturday at Philadelphia. Yale and the Lions have 1-3 marks and Cornell, which plays at Hanover Friday, is looking for its first league win.

Christopher Williams-Lopez had worked his way into the mix of receivers in the pre-season, but he suffered an injury that set him back enough where it didn't look like it would be easy to get in the varsity rotation. However, he got healthy while many of his teammates – especially the receivers – went down with injuries. After making his varsity debut at Dartmouth, he has 24 catches over four outings, including a season-best seven at Hanover. The sophomore WR from Duluth, Ga., did not get any varsity action in 2014.

Sophomore QB Rafe Chapple got some snaps in the second half and completed three of five passes for 30 yards… Sophomore LB Matthew Oplinger had 6-2-8 and two sacks against Columbia… Senior LB Andrew Larkin, a former high school hurdler, had his second career interception to go along with six tackles against the Lions… Freshman long snapper Hunter Simino recovered a fumble on a Yale punt for the second time this fall.

Morgan Roberts, a 2014 second-team All-Ivy pick who attended Charlotte Country Day before enrolling at Clemson University, played in nine games in 2013 as the No. 2  and then took the top job in game one of 2014. Roberts, who has seen all kinds of injury changes around him this fall, is on the following Yale career lists:

2nd Completions: 444... needs 95 to catch Patrick Witt '12 for 1st
3rd Passing Yards: 5,320... needs 161 to catch Joe Walland '00 for 2nd
4th Total Offense: 5,592    
4th Passing Attempts: 734
5th Passing TDs: 34... needs 1 to catch Joe Walland for 4th, needs 4 to reach 3rd

The Bulldogs, led by Morgan Roberts, have come from behind in three of the four victories. Yale was down by 14 in game one against Colgate and 19 in the second contest before marching back to victory. The 33-point combined deficit was erased by the Elis outscoring the first two opponents 42-7 in the second half. On Oct. 17 at Maine, the Blue erased a pair of deficits to register the victory. The Bulldogs made three big comebacks last year to register victories over Lehigh, Army and Brown.

The Bulldogs lead the FCS with five blocked kicks this fall. Junior FS Foyesade Oluokun blocked two Colgate field goals on Sept. 19. Junior DE Marty Moesta knocked down a Cornell PAT, while freshman DE J. Hunter Roman got to a Big Red field goal attempt in week two. Junior DT Copache Tyler got a piece of a Maine field goal try on Oct. 17 for the fifth of the fall.

Cole Champion, Yale's senior captain, was part of two high school national championships at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The Bulldog strong safety and two-time All-Ivy pick has 209 career tackles and four interceptions. Champion has started the last 33 straight games.

Yale junior kicker/punter Bryan Holmes leads the team with 34 points while handling all aspects of kicking. He is 8-for-11 on field goals, including a career-long of 44 at Lehigh. He has a 38.0 punting average with nine landing inside the 20. Holmes has kicked off 32 times with nine going as touchbacks. Holmes, Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week after the Cornell game, is a 6-foot, 197-pound Eli who began his collegiate career as a kickoff specialist his freshman season before exclusively handling the punting duties in 2014. His 2015 responsibilities make him the first Yale player to handle all three areas since Tom Mante in 2008.

Junior DT Jack Rushin recently donated marrow to a needy recipient. He is the 32nd donor to come from the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Drive, an annual event on the Yale campus that honors the memory of the former Bulldog women's hockey player. Rushin, the nephew of Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin, only missed a day of practice.

The five starters on the Yale offensive line have started all 10 games the last two seasons. That is not the case this fall with at least one starter missing in each of the last five games. Center Luke Longinotti has 27 straight starts, while left tackle Khalid Cannon has 17. On the other hand, guards Jon Bezney and Anders Huizenga and tackles Beau Iverson and Karl Marback, who moved over from the defensive line this fall, got their first starts this fall.

Junior P/PK Bryan Holmes: Ivy STPOW (Cornell)
Sophomore LB Matthew Oplinger: Ivy DPOW; CSM Ivy DPOW (Lehigh)
Senior QB Morgan Roberts: Ivy OPOW (Colgate)
Sophomore TB Deshawn Salter: Ivy co-OPOW (Lehigh); Ivy OPOW & CSM Ivy OPOW (Maine)

Seven players on the current roster earned All-Ivy honors in 2013, 2014 or both. On defense it was: SS Cole Champion '16 – Second-Team 2013, HM 14; DB Foyesade Oluokun '17 – Second-Team 2013, 14 and DL Co-pache Tyler '17 – Second-Team 2014. The offense included: QB Morgan Roberts '16 – Second-Team 2014; C Luke Longinotti '16 – Second-Team 2014; TE Leo Haenni '17 – H M 2014 and RB Candler Rich '17 – HM 2014.

Tyler Varga '15, Yale's All-American running back, made the 53-man Indianapolis Colts roster this fall. Varga played in all four Indy pre-season games and finished with 18 carries for 69 yards, including a touchdown against the Rams on Aug. 29. He had five receptions for 36 yards, made a tackle on special teams and returned a pair of kickoffs. He played in the first three regular season games - returning kicks, playing on other special teams and getting into the offensive backfield on third downs - but was placed on injured reserve (Oct. 14) for the rest of the season.

888 or 889?
Yale has 888 or 889 wins depending how you view things. The NCAA record books give the Bulldogs credit for games won on the field, which is 888. However, the Ivy League credits Yale with one more (889) victory from a 1997 (forfeit) game against Penn. Yale was the first to 800 wins but has been overtaken by Michigan (921), while Notre Dame (890) and Texas (884) are not far behind.

It's very rare to have an ex-Yale football captain on the coaching staff, but the Elis now have two. Paul Rice '10 (outside LB, special teams), who joined Tony Reno's staff in February of 2013, became the first captain to return as a "full-time" or "primary" coach since Albie Booth in the late 1930s. Chandler Henley '07 (TEs), who led the Elis to a 2006 Ivy title as captain, came back to New Haven last spring. Six Yale graduates currently serve on col-lege coaching staffs. Bob Shoop '88 is defensive coordinator at Penn State. Dartmouth has Kyle Metzler '02, the running game and recruiting coordinator who focuses on the offensive tackles.  AJ Haase '09 is graduate assistant with Iowa, while Josh Grizzard '12 is graduate assistant at Duke.

It's not easy to make a college football schedule, which is drawn out many years in advance with potential moving parts. This fall just happened to shake out with a school-record (low) four home games for the Elis. Last year, Yale had six at home, this fall it's six on the road.

Here's what the Bulldogs did in 2014.
Ranked 22nd among 124 FCS teams by NCAA simple rating system;
Team (FWAA Team of Week) – Sept. 27 win over Army
FCS Top 5 Stats: Total Offense (571.5) – 1; Third-Downs (.517) – 1; Scoring (41.3) – 3; Passing (323.6) – 5th
Major School (modern) Records Broken: Scoring, 411 points; Touchdowns, 53; Total Plays, 836; Total Offense: 5,715 yards; First Downs in a game, 36 vs. Army
National Stats Leaders: Receiving Yards per game - Grant Wallace (113.0); Scoring – Tyler Varga (15.6)

This past summer we mourned the loss of former Yale and Chicago Bears captain Mike Pyle '61, who led the Bulldogs to their last perfect season in 1960. The 2015 Elis honor the fallen legend with a "Pyle 59" sticker on the back of their helmets. The 1960 team will gather on Nov. 21 at Yale Bowl for The Game.

Pat Graham '01 (see photo), a former Yale tight end and defensive lineman, is a defensive assistant coach for the 2015 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. He is in his seventh season at Foxboro. Graham, a Waterbury, Conn., native, was a member of Yale's 1999 Ivy title team. Michael McDaniel '05 is in his ninth NFL campaign and first as offensive assistant with Atlanta. Last year, he was a receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns. He also coached the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. The Yalie with the longest NFL tenure (player/coach) in Ivy history is Dick Jauron '73, who played eight seasons between two teams and then spent 32 years as a coach. His last was 2012 with Cleveland.

Dick Jauron '73, the All-American Yale running back who became a pro football star before earning AP Coach of the Year honors as an NFL head coach, is about to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. Induction for the class of 2015 hall of famers takes place Dec. 8, 2015, at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City's historic Waldorf Astoria. Yale honors Jauron at the Bowl on Nov. 21 during The Game.

Chris Getman '64, an ex-Yale baseball player, has been "pitching" Handsome Dan for Yale since 1983. The former lefty hurler has been the caretaker of the school mascot – walking the sidelines of home games - since former AD Frank Ryan asked him to take the role. Getman, whose role at Yale encompasses much more than games at the Bowl, is a community leader and a highly successful owner of Soundview Capital Management Corp. He is on his fourth Yale mascot. Sherman, the 17th edition of Handsome Dan, is eight years old and weighs 65 pounds.

Yale is 6-3 in OT games including the win against Army in 2014. The Elis are 4-1 at home in extra sessions, the only loss against Harvard in triple OT in 2005. Yale has a pair of triple-session OTs (Penn, 2007) and a two double-dippers (Princeton, 2003; Holy Cross, 2008).

Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football, and some of his players are at world famous Mory's (306 York Street) every Tuesday at noon for the Dick Galiette Yale Football Media Luncheon. This event is limited to media only. Please contact Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn ( if you would like to attend. Cole Champion, Spencer Rymiszewski, Robert Clemons, Sebastian Little, Hayden Carlson, Deshawn Salter, Matthew Oplinger, Bryan Holmes, Morgan Roberts, Aaron Ault, Khalid Cannon, Victor Egu and Austin Reuland have attended the events this season.

You can listen to legendary coach Carm Cozza and Ron Vaccaro '04 call the action of Yale Football this fall on ESPN Radio1300 (AM 1300) and News Radio 960 WELI (AM 960), depending on the game, as well as iHeart Ra-dio, and on the Yale Football Radio Network, which includes Talk of Connecticut radio sta-tions WDRC (AM 1360 Hartford), WWCO (AM 1240 Waterbury), WMMW (AM 1470 Meriden), WSNG (AM 610 Torrington) and WDRC (FM 102.9 HD -3 Hartford). Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn also takes part in the broadcasts.

The 2015 Yale football team includes 34 high school football captains and 23 guys who were captains of other sports before coming to New Haven. There are also 32 National Honor Society members.

Two former Yale football players and an ex-Yale hoopster are now working for the Miami Dolphins. Former DB Max Napolitano '14 is a business analytics specialist for the NFL team, while Grant Wallace '15, one of the school's most prolific receivers, is a college scout. In addition, former women's basketball star Zenab Keita works in the marketing department.

Eight of Yale's 10 football games this fall air live on TV including five broadcasts between NBC Sports Network and Fox College Sports that are part of the 2015 Ivy League TV Package. Yale's Ancient Eight TV games began on Oct. 10 at Dartmouth on Fox. The Bulldogs' first-ever Friday Ivy League Game was on NBCSN on Oct. 23 at Penn's Franklin Field. That was the second of three Eli games that require lights this season. The season finale against Harvard begins at 2:30 on Nov. 21 and can be seen on NBCSN as well. All games on NBCSN will also be available on NBC Sports Live Extra. In addition to the league package, all three non-league contests are on a mix of local and national TV. The season opener at Colgate aired on New York's Time Warner Cable. The second road trip, at Lehigh on Oct. 3, was on in the Lehigh Valley's Service Electric 2 Sports. The Elis made their first visit to the University of Maine for an Oct. 17 game broadcast on the local ABC affiliate and shared with Fox College Sports.

Two of Yale's games can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network, while the other eight are on national or regional TV or another streaming network. Available at, fans can have a year-long Yale channel for $89.95. The package includes live home and selected away games in HD as well as on-demand programming. There is also a four-month pass for $34.95, a one-month pass for $10.95 or a single-day pass for $9.95.

The Bulldogs, off on Mondays, are on Clint Frank Field from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Fridays are walk-through days either at Yale Bowl or on the road and times vary. Players and coaches are available for interviews with working media following the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday practices if there is no student-athlete scheduling conflicts. All schedules are subject to change. Media must check with Steve Conn at least 24 hours in advance to attend a practice.

The Yale Bowl press box has a true taste of New Haven with Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant and Blue State Coffee available to media. Yorkside, a family operated business since 1969, provides pies, pasta and salad Blue State, an 11-year-old business that donates a portion of sales to area non-profits, has the best coffee in town.

filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director