Keys Sets School Mark with 94-Yard Touchdown Run
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale posted plenty of impressive numbers on offense and defense Saturday en route to a 53-12 win over Columbia at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field. The Bulldogs' 569 yards of offense included a school record-breaking 94-yard run for a touchdown by junior tailback Kahlil Keys in the third quarter. This was the most points Yale had scored in a game since scoring 62 against Towson in 2003, and marked the fourth time in seven games this season that Yale scored 30 or more points.
"I'm really proud of the effort today," said Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak. "This was the best week of practice we have had all year. That says a lot about the character of this team."
Yale's first scoring drive, which ended with a 46-yard field goal by junior punter/placekicker Kyle Cazzetta, featured two third-down conversion passes from senior quarterback Henry Furman -- one to sophomore wide receiver Sebastian Little and one to senior wide receiver Cameron Sandquist. Cazzetta's field goal tied his career long.
Furman, returning from an injury that sidelined him for last week's loss at Penn, completed 22 of 30 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
"I've never been an 'injury' guy, so that was hard," said Furman. "You see what our offense is capable of when we take care of the ball and do what we're supposed to do."
Meanwhile, Columbia got only two first downs on its first two possessions against the Yale defense. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 10-0 by driving 62 yards in 10 plays on their third possession of the game, capped by a 10-yard touchdown run for freshman tailback Candler Rich. By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs already had 137 yards of offense -- including 109 passing yards for Furman, who had utilized five different receivers while completing 11 of 14 passes. Junior wide receiver Deon Randall had four of those catches and was on his way to a 10-catch day for 88 yards.
Yale (4-3, 2-2 Ivy League) hit a bump in the road five plays into the second quarter, when Columbia linebacker Brian East grabbed a tipped pass for an interception and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. The Lions missed the extra point, but were within 10-6.
After the Yale defense forced the fourth Columbia punt of the day, the Yale offense went back to work. Rich had a 15-yard run and a 16-yard catch as the Elis drove from their 18 to the Columbia 26. From there, play action freed up Randall in the end zone for a perfectly placed pass from Furman. Cazzetta's extra point made it 17-6 Yale with just less than eight minutes left in the half.
A fourth-down conversion run by Keys enabled the Bulldogs to drive for another touchdown before halftime. Keys' five-yard run on fourth-and-one from the Columbia 31 was followed four plays later by a 12-yard scoring toss from Furman to Rich, who leaped into the end zone with 53 seconds remaining in the half. That was Rich's first career touchdown reception.
The Yale defense stopped the final Lions possession of the first half at the Eli 40. By that point the Bulldogs had limited the two Columbia quarterbacks, Kelly Hilinski and Trevor McDonagh, to just five completions on 18 attempts.
"Our goals every week are to stop the run and limit big plays," said Reno. "We -- for the most part -- did that today."
The Yale defense's dominant effort continued on the first Lion drive of the second half, as a sack by senior defensive end Beau Palin stopped Columbia at its own 29-yard line. From there, a bad snap on the punt forced punter Tyler Feely to tuck the ball and run, with junior wide receiver Grant Wallace tackling him at the Columbia 24. Five plays later, Rich ran the ball in from two yards out for a touchdown and a 30-6 lead. Rich would finish with 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Columbia (0-7, 0-4 Ivy League) had just crossed into Yale territory on its third drive of the second half (only the second time all day the Lions offense had made it across the 50) when sophomore linebacker Andrew Larkin brought the drive to a halt with an interception that he returned to midfield. The Eli offense immediately followed that up with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Furman to Wallace that made the score 37-6 with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter.
The Lions got as far as the Yale 48 on the next drive, but a tackle for loss by freshman defensive end Victor Egu knocked them back to their own side of the field, and two plays later they punted.
Pinned back at their own six, the Bulldogs handed the ball to Keys again -- and he burst through a wide-open hole, headed to the right sideline and took off for the 94-yard touchdown. It was the longest play in the modern era of Yale football and Keys' first career touchdown. The previous record had been a 93-yard run by Denny McGill '57 vs. Dartmouth in 1956. Keys' dash also tied for the ninth-longest run in Ivy League history. It was part of a 186-yard third quarter for the Bulldogs' offense.
Yale began working in many reserves in the fourth quarter. A Columbia fumble on a Yale punt was recovered by sophomore strong safety Cole Champion at the Lions 29. The Bulldogs kept the ball on the ground from there, with senior tailback Tate Harshbarger totaling 14 yards. Cazzetta kicked a 35-yard field goal with 10:15 to play.
Harshbarger capped the day off with a 14-yard touchdown with 6:30 to play. That sparked an emotional celebration from his teammates, who recognize the effort that Harshbarger has put in behind the scenes -- especially after suffering a serious injury in a junior varsity game three years ago. They all raced down to mob him near the end zone after his score.
"I can't say enough about how tight of a team this is," said Furman. "Take someone like Tate Harshbarger, who takes six classes and is up working until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning … that kid is the hardest worker on the team. I'm so proud of him for getting in the zone."
Columbia got a 23-yard touchdown pass from McDonagh to wide receiver Ryan Flannery with 4:02 to play to make the final score 53-12.
The Bulldogs limited the Lions to just 28 yards rushing on 23 attempts (a 1.2 yard per carry average) and got four sacks.
Next Saturday Yale hosts Brown, which just beat Penn 27-0 to knock the Quakers out of a first-place tie in the Ivy League standings.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Pubicity