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Record-Setting Day for Roberts in 51-13 Win at Cornell

Morgan Roberts. (photo by Jack Warhola)
Morgan Roberts. (photo by Jack Warhola)

Junior Throws for 312 Yards and Five Touchdowns in Ivy Opener

ITHACA, N.Y. – Yale's high-flying offense topped the 50-point mark for the second time this season Saturday as the Bulldogs cruised to a 51-13 win vs. Cornell at Schoellkopf Field. Junior quarterback Morgan Roberts threw for 312 yards and tied a Yale single-game record by throwing five touchdowns. He also set a Yale single-game record for completion percentage, completing 26 of 30 passes before sitting out the final quarter with the game safely in hand.  Cornell tried three different quarterbacks but completed just 10 of 25 passes for 120 yards against the Yale defense.

"Coming into the week, we just really focused on taking advantage of one-on-one matchups," said Roberts, who was sacked only once. "As a team today the protection was great, and the receivers ran great routes."

Entering this Ivy League opener, Yale (3-0, 1-0 Ivy League) was coming off a historic 49-43 overtime win vs. Army -- the first win by an Ivy team against a Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1986. The Bulldogs showed no signs of a letdown after that epic battle, hammering Cornell (0-3, 0-1 Ivy League) with 20 points in the first 13 minutes Saturday en route to the victory.

"We live by a credo that we play one play at a time, one day at a time," said Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "All 105 guys, they believe in that and they live that."

Yale got great field possession on its first drive, as the defense forced a Cornell punt from the Big Red 17 and senior wide receiver Deon Randall returned the punt 26 yards to the Cornell 39. Roberts converted a third-and-eight with a 17-yard pass to junior tight end Sebastian Little, and two plays later Roberts pitched to senior tailback Tyler Varga for a six-yard touchdown that put Yale up 7-0 with 11:21 left in the first. That was Varga's seventh touchdown of the season.

The Bulldogs scored again on their next drive, which was highlighted by a 30-yard run by Varga followed immediately by a 33-yard touchdown pass from Roberts to Randall. The Bulldogs tried for two but junior quarterback Logan Scott was tackled shy of the goal line, leaving the score 13-0 Yale.

Yale made it three-for-three on its third drive, scoring this time on a 13-yard toss from Roberts to a wide open senior wide receiver Grant Wallace in the end zone. The Bulldogs led 20-0.

Roberts continued picking apart the Cornell secondary on the next drive, placing a perfect deep ball down the right sideline to Wallace for a 44-yard gain shortly before the first quarter ended. The Bulldogs finished the quarter with a total of 230 offensive yards, with Roberts completing 12 of 13 passes.

That drive ended with a missed field goal, part of one of the few rough patches for Yale all day. The defense finally allowed a third-down conversion for Cornell early in the second quarter (the Big Red had started 0-for-4 in that category). But after three straight incompletions from the Yale 44 the Big Red punted for the fifth time in five drives.

Cornell's only score of the half came shortly after that on a fumble recovery, as outside linebacker James White grabbed a loose ball at the Yale 14 and ran it in for the score. The Big Red missed the extra point, leaving the score 20-6 Yale.

Yale quickly re-established control of the game after that, driving for a fourth touchdown. This one was another Roberts-to-Wallace connection, a 19-yarder that capped a 75-yard drive.

A spectacular diving grab by Randall at the Cornell three converted a fourth-and-eight on Yale's next drive. A personal foul call set Yale back momentarily, but Roberts and Randall finished off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass that made the score 34-6 heading into the half.

A 20-yard field goal by senior kicker Kyle Cazzetta extended the lead on Yale's first drive of the second half. The large lead enabled the Bulldogs to rest many of their first-stringers; Varga did not get any carries in the second half, allowing freshman tailback Deshawn Salter to get his first career rushes. Scott took over for Roberts under center on the first Yale drive in the fourth quarter.

The Yale defense came up with its first turnover of the day when freshman linebacker Matthew Oplinger nabbed an interception at the Cornell 45 late in the third. The ensuing drive saw sophomore wide receiver Robert Clemons III catch his first career touchdown pass, a nine-yarder from Roberts with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter. Senior tailback Everett Johnson later added his first career touchdown, a 34-yarder with 5:43 left in the game.

Cornell tacked on a seven-yard touchdown play with 1:11 left, a seven-yard pass from quarterback James Few to running back Luke Hagy for the 51-13 final.

While Cornell did thus wind up with two touchdowns, neither one came with Yale's first-string defense on the field. After allowing 43 points to each of their first two opponents, the Elis showed the ability to shut down an opposing offense on Saturday.

"We knew we had to make a statement," said sophomore linebacker Darius Manora. "It all started up front. Out defensive line came out hard."

The Bulldogs now have three straight home games, starting with another Ivy League game Saturday vs. Dartmouth.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity