Bulldogs Get Game-Winner with 19 Seconds Remaining
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Junior wide receiver Deon Randall's 32-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left capped a wild game at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field Saturday afternoon as Yale beat Brown 24-17. Randall's dash up the middle on third-and-10 provided a dramatic ending to a game that saw the Bulldogs play four different quarterbacks while continuing to cope with the absence of their starting tailback and one of their starting receivers.
Randall has been Yale's go-to option at receiver this season, especially with senior wide receiver Chris Smith sidelined by injury for the last four games. On Saturday, Randall also wound up as the team's leading rusher with 59 yards on six carries -- including 32 on that final, memorable run into the end zone.
"It was a mid-zone to the right," said Randall, who had played running back regularly earlier in his Yale career. "I saw a lane. The offensive line was doing a tremendous job. I saw a hole, hit it, and willed my way into the end zone."
Randall was part of a Yale rushing attack that wound up totaling 165 yards -- outgaining Brown by 16 yards despite the fact that the Elis remain without junior tailback Tyler Varga (injured for the past three games). The Yale defense managed to keep Brown tailback John Spooney from breaking off any runs like the ones he had a week earlier -- a 94-yarder and a 93-yarder. His longest run Saturday was a relatively modest 12 yards.
The Bulldogs took the lead on their first possession. Freshman tailback Candler Rich took a short pass from senior quarterback Henry Furman and turned it into a long gain down the left sideline, ending up with a 35-yard touchdown at 10:20 of the first.
Brown (5-3, 2-3 Ivy League) drove 60 yards in five plays for the game-tying touchdown, a five-yard toss from quarterback Patrick Donnelly to wide receiver Tellef Lundevall.
A third-and-three conversion in Yale territory kept the Bulldogs' next drive going, as Furman found Randall for a seven-yard gain to the Eli 40. Eight plays later Furman fired one to freshman wide receiver Myles Gaines in the end zone for Gaines' first career touchdown, putting the Bulldogs up 14-7 at 0:53 of the first.
The Yale defense then denied a Brown drive that got to the Yale 22, with freshman defensive lineman Marty Moesta stuffing a third-and-five run by Spooney. The Bears went for it on fourth down, but ended up with an incomplete pass.
Another Brown drive deep into Yale territory later in the first half came up empty as well. The Bears got to the Eli 19 but lost a fumble, recovered by sophomore defensive lineman Carl Kreitzberg with 1:38 left. A roughing the passer call on the Bears then helped jump-start the Yale drive. The Bulldogs were still forced to punt, but when the Bears fumbled that punt senior defensive end Beau Palin recovered it at the Brown 41.
With just eight seconds on the clock, the Bulldogs moved quickly to score before halftime. Sophomore quarterback Eric Williams, the third signal caller of the day for Yale after Furman and sophomore quarterback Morgan Roberts, completed a pass to Rich that got the ball to the Brown 29. From there junior punter/placekicker Kyle Cazzetta tied his career long with a 46-yard field goal that made it 17-7 as time expired.
The Yale defense continued to keep Brown at bay on the first drive of the second half, which ended with a Moesta sack. But Yale's first turnover of the day wound up enabling the Bears to creep closer. An interception by Brown linebacker Daniel Giovacchini at the Brown 47 at 8:57 of the third gave the Bears the chance to drive for a touchdown on a four-yard pass from Donnelly to wide receiver Jordan Evans.
Another interception by the Brown defense set up the Bears at the Yale 48 with 2:29 left in the third. The Yale defense stiffened as the Bears got to the Eli six, with junior linebacker William Vaughan pushing them back three yards with a sack. Alexander Norocea's 26-yard field goal tied the score 17-17 with 17 seconds left in the third.
Moesta's pass breakup ended Brown's first drive of the fourth quarter, a sign of the defensive back-and-forth struggle that was to ensue. Yale punted from its 27 on the next drive, and Brown then punted from midfield. A tipped Eli pass was intercepted on the ensuing drive, but a roughing the passer call against the Bears wiped that one out. Sophomore Logan Scott came in to play quarterback after that, the fourth signal caller of the day.
The Yale defense came up with another big stand on Brown's next drive, with freshman free safety Foyesade Oluokun stopping Spooney for a loss on a third-and-one run from the Brown 38. The teams then traded punts until Yale got the ball back at its own 41 with 1:43 to play. Three completions by Scott -- along with runs by Rich and junior tailback Kahlil Keys -- got the ball to the 32 for Randall to perform his heroics.
Rich, Keys and Scott were second, third and fourth on Yale's depth chart at their respective positions heading into the game -- but they came up with the big plays when it mattered.
"It says a lot about these guys and the mentality we have," said Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "I didn't have any reservations when I put Logan in the game. I didn't have any reservations when I put our third tailback in the game. A lot of it comes from Beau [Yale's captain] and the seniors. They have really changed this program. Our best two weeks of practice have been these last two weeks."
Oluokun broke up a pass on Brown's final drive. The final pass breakup of the day, on a Hail Mary pass in the end zone as time expired, was by none other than Randall -- who has seen time in the defensive backfield this year in addition to his work on offense.
Yale (5-3, 3-2 Ivy League) travels to first-place Princeton, the only team that is still undefeated in league play, next Saturday.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity