Salter's 233 Yards Lifts Yale to 27-12 Win
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Deshawn Salter had to wait a season and two games for his chance to run as the top Bulldog tail back. His debut as the starter put him in the school's record books. With help from an outstanding push from the offensive line, the sophomore rambled, juked, sprinted, dove and plowed his way to 233 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-12 Eli win at Lehigh today.
The Bulldogs, who improved to 3-0, which included a pair of come-back wins, scored on the opening possession and never allowed the home team to get closer than six points. Getting 529 yards of offense with 29 first downs while averaging six yards per play made that possible.
"The goal this week was to start fast and finish strong while living by our "One Play Warrior" team slogan," said Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Yale Head Coach. "It was nice to put points on the board early and be able to finish the job strong."
The defense deserved as much of the credit, holding a team to its fewest points of the season on the road during a homecoming game. It was the fewest points Yale allowed in a road, non-league game since a 24-10 win at a ranked Cal-Poly team in 2013.
Sophomore linebacker Matthew Oplinger led the attack on the Mountain Hawks offense with 11 solo tackles and a pair of ferocious sacks. His unit, which blanked Lehigh in the first half after shutting out Cornell in the second half last week, registered four sacks and six tackles for lost yardage.
"The defense had to play to their best ability and dominate every play," said Oplinger, who seemed to be everywhere and was constantly putting pressure on the QB or blanketing receivers.
Oplinger had the biggest Bulldog hit of the game when he blindsided the Lehigh QB in the second quarter. "It was a blitz off the edge. I had a clear shot at the kid and he had no idea I was coming."
Reno was impressed with the play of his defense against a team that had won 10 Patriot League titles since 1993. .
"One of the keys today was to limit [Lehigh QB Nick] Shafnisky on the football and keep him off the scoreboard by sending pressure," said Reno.
The Elis, playing without three offensive starters, made a bold statement on both sides today.
"The team has a lot of depth and the expectation is for guys to step in and not miss a beat. We had a nice day at pass protection and did a great job finishing the runs," said the Yale mentor coaching one of four unbeaten Ancient Eight teams.
Salter, who averaged eight yards per attempt, registered the fifth-best day for a Bulldog running back while scoring from two and 42 yards. The later was the back-breaker that put the game away late in the third quarter.
"It was a team effort to get the run game going today, starting up front at the line," said Salter, who had no recollection of his best day as a back at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse. He was far from interested in figuring out how this day compared or talking about his own statistics.
There were many Yale standout performances in all areas today, including Bryan Holmes, who was handling all aspects of the kicking game. The Eli junior split the uprights on two field goals – the 44-yarder skimmed the top of the cross bar – and punted five times for a 41.6 average while notching two touchbacks on five kickoffs.
His late third quarter punt turned out to be one of the key plays in the contest. Punting from his own 40, Holmes launched a sky kick toward the right sideline that was muffed by the Lehigh returner and recovered by DB Dale Harris.
That was one of two turnovers caused by the Elis and led to a Morgan Roberts touchdown toss to Ross Drwal early in the fourth quarter. The senior quarterback, who connected with eight different receivers, finished the day completing 25 of 42 passes for 251 yards.
The Yale JV team plays Sunday at Brown and kickoff is 1 pm... Senior TB Austin Reuland ran for 30 yards and caught a pair of passes… Today's Homecoming Day is the second of four Yale will be visiting this season… Junior DT Jack Rushin will be at a hospital in Boston on Monday to donate marrow. He is the 32nd donor that has come from the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Drive, which takes place each spring on the Yale campus… Sophomore WR Ross Drwal's brother, Jake, is third on the Lehigh career receptions list… In last week's game vs. Cornell, sophomore DT Nicholas Hardy made two key tackles in the second half. However, very few people in Yale Bowl knew it was him wearing No. 90. He and sophomore OL Karl Marback (now 79) switched numbers the morning of the game.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director
Jack Warhola image of Deshawn Salter