Harris Runs For 177, Defense Shines Again
PRINCETON, N.J. – The Yale-Princeton rivalry has had its share of classic contests, today's belongs among the best. Morgan Roberts hit Robert Clemons on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 4:31 left and the Bulldog defense came up with a huge stand on the way to a 35-28 win over the Tigers at Princeton Stadium.
Yale (6-3, 3-3 Ivy), which overcame 14-0, 21-14 and 28-24 deficits to hand Princeton its only home loss this fall, had so many heroes on both sides of the line that it's hard to list.
The game-winning score was set up by one of three impressive Bulldog defensive sets to finish the day. After junior Bryan Holmes nailed his second field goal of the day from 34 yards out early in the fourth to bring the Blue to within 28-27, the Eli defense went into shut down mode.
Captain Cole Champion's gang, which allowed just one Tiger touchdown in the second half, stopped a fourth-and-four on the Yale 37 to get the ball back to the Eli offense. The Bulldogs were denied on a fourth and short of their own, and the visitor's defense was called on again.
That's when junior cornerback Spencer Rymiszewski stepped up to make one of the biggest plays of his career. On third and nine from the Yale 45, Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff threw a pass down the left sideline that Rymiszewski had covered. The Bulldog defender jumped and snatched it before it found the receiver and then sprinted up the sideline for a 35-yard return to the Princeton 44-yard line.
"I knew I had to make up for my mishap from earlier in the third quarter," said Rymisewski, who lost a jump ball on a long scoring play that put the home team ahead 28-24. "I had a feeling that they were going to come after me again later on in the game, and I knew I had to capitalize if an opportunity was presented. Sure enough the QB tried to get me on a deep fade route and luckily I was over the top and in the right place at the right time. It was an incredible team win and I am so happy that I was a part of it."
That's where Roberts and his injury-challenged offense took over with 8:18 left. The senior QB completed all five passes he tossed on the series – including two to Clemons – while Yale mixed in hard-fought running yards from Dale Harris and Austin Reuland to get to the winning points. Roberts dropped back to pass on third-and-10 from the 19 and threaded the needle on a post pattern to Clemons. The pass went over a linebacker and in front of a defensive back to land in the hands of the junior receiver.
"I knew it was a one-high safety look, so I wanted to work Clemons on the backside. Luckily, the O-line did a great job protecting me and Rob ran a great route. He ended up taking the post higher than anticipated. We saw the same thing, so we were able to connect for the touchdown," said Roberts, who engineered yet another comeback win.
Clemons, who has four TD catches this fall, was also quick to point out his teammates.
"We executed," said Clemons. "The O-Line blocked it very well giving Morgan a ton of time. Morgan threw a perfect ball. Just perfect execution by all 11 of us on the field, just like Coach Reno preaches."
That gave Yale its second lead of the day at 33-28 and brought on a relatively easy decision to go for two points. Roberts took the pistol snap from center, got good protection again from his line, and fired a pass between numerous defenders to junior tight end Jackson Stallings, who enjoyed his best day as a Bulldog. Stallings had lots of hands around him but grabbed the pass cleanly and took the hit.
Yale was up by seven, but Princeton had plenty of time to get the equalizer. The Tigers managed one first down before the Blue broke up pass plays on second and third downs. Junior linebacker Darius Manora then picked off a fourth-down pass to enable the Elis to run out the clock.
However, it wasn't that simple. The visitors needed to move the chains to keep the ball away from an impressive Princeton offense. Harris, the recently converted defensive back who gave Yale its first score of the day on a 71-yard scamper down the left sideline, and Reuland had to grind out first downs before Roberts could take a knee.
Harris, who moved to tailback last week, finished with a game-high 177 yards on 30 carries. Reuland rushed 13 times for 50 significant yards.
Meanwhile, Roberts connected on 20 of 29 passes, including 10 to sophomore receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez.
But Roberts, who also scored a rushing TD, wasn't the only Yale quarterback to throw a scoring pass today. On a fourth-and-eight from the Princeton 22 midway through the second quarter, the Elis went into the muddle huddle spread. Senior Logan Scott took the snap, started to take off on a rushing attempt, pulled back and then flicked an arching pass to junior tight end Leo Haenni (first career TD) to even the game at 14-14.
"I'm really proud of the effort and our ability to stay with the process and keep our focus," said Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach. "I was really upset about the penalties in the first half. We came back in the second half with a renewed focus and we finished."
Senior DB Keith Hawk made a big play on a Princeton kick return and stopped the runner on the Tigers' nine-yard line... The 71-yard run by Dale Harris, which included a delicate dance routine along the left sideline, was the longest scoring run for a Bulldog since Alex Thomas in 2011… Today is the 100th anniversary of a famous Yale-Princeton sibling rivalry. On Nov. 13, 1915, at the Bowl, Yale captain Alexander D. Wilson '16 squared off against his brother, M.O. Woody Wilson, the Princeton captain elect. Alex was killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in World War I… Next Saturday's game at the Bowl kicks off at 2:30. The parking lots open at 10 a.m. with the gates to the stadium opening at 1 p.m… Penn beat Harvard today at Boston and there is now a three-way tie for first place between the Crimson, Dartmouth and Penn.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director
Image by Jack Warhola)