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Yale Has Fordham This Week

Jack Warhola image
Jack Warhola image

Bulldogs in the Bronx Saturday Night


NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale football team, coming off a home-opener victory in Ivy League play, take a break from Ancient Eight action to travel down to the Bronx. The Bulldogs (2-0) take on Fordham (1-3) at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Jack Coffey Field in a game airing live on the Patriot League Network and on WELI (AM 960) Radio.

Yale has won three straight games dating to last year's season finale at Harvard. The Bulldogs, who scored four TDs through the air in game one this fall and five on the ground last week, are averaging 52 points and 515 yards over their first two contests.

Leading 14-10 after two quarters, the Elis scored four straight touchdowns, including two on the ground, to take a 49-24 win against Cornell at Yale Bowl. Senior RB Deshawn Salter ran for 143 yards and three scores, while rookie RB Zane Dudek had 173 yards and one touchdown for the Bulldogs, who got 287 of their 342 rushing yards over the last 30 minutes.

Yale has won five of the eight games with Fordham. The Elis won the inaugural contest 21-14 in 1950 at the Bowl, a year after the first scheduled meeting was canceled due to a polio scare. Forty-two years later, in the next encounter, the Bulldogs took a 31-12 decision at New Haven. Yale is 1-2 at Fordham with a win in 2000 and loss in 2008 and 2016.
Two big Yale turnovers on the first two possessions of the second half could have been the difference in last year's game at Jack Coffey Field. The first was a 63-yard interception return for a TD, which was followed by a fumble deep in Fordham territory. Dale Harris '17 ran for four touchdowns and a two-point conversion while netting 136 yards and making three solo tackles as a cornerback. However, that wasn't enough to get Yale a victory in a 44-37 loss to the Rams.

Fordham had a win over Central Connecticut and losses to Army and No. 12 Eastern Washington heading into week four. Last week at Smithfield, R.I., Kevin Anderson threw five TD passes, but the Rams fell to Bryant University, 45-40, at Beirne Stadium. Anderson completed 27 of 42 passes for 366 yards, tying his career-high for touchdown passes in a game.

RBs Deshawn Salter (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Zane Dudek (Kittanning, Pa.) combined for 489 yards and seven TDs in two contests. Salter, who has a 5.0 career average per carry, is the team's active career TD leader with 12. Dudek, who began his collegiate career with a pair of triple-digit yardage games, came within a dozen yards of the Yale freshman record against Cornell while earning Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. He has a 12.2 average this year with three scores. Dudek's Western Pennsylvania high school single-game rushing record (492 yards) was broken last weekend while he was making his collegiate debut at Lehigh. Salter, Dudek, freshman Andrew Grinde (Great Falls, Mt.) and junior Kyle Ellerson (Oradell, NJ) have also seen varsity action. 

Sophomore defensive end Charles Callender (Cutler Bay, Fla.), who has grabbed opponent QBs a team-high three times, leads a Yale unit that has 11 sacks in two games. Senior linebacker Matthew Oplinger (Summit, NJ), senior DL Copache Tyler (Springfield, Ill.) and junior DE Kyle Mullen (Manalapan, NJ) each have two sacks. The six total for Yale vs. Cornell were the most for the Blue since registering seven in 2014 vs. Dartmouth.
Spencer Rymiszewski (West Chester, Pa.), who was voted captain by his teammates despite missing last season with an injury, has started all 28 games (139 tackles, 6 interceptions) in the defensive backfield that he's been available for. He earned freshman MVP honors in 2013 and was team MVP and a first-team All-Ivy pick in 2015. An injury slowed him in 2014, and he elected to have surgery over competing in 2016. His busiest day was 11 solos and one interception vs. Dartmouth in 2014.

He's the only player in school history to return two punts for TDs of 80 yards or more. Jason Alessi (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), the dual-sport standout who has been a starter on defense for most of his career, has 130 career tackles and five interceptions over 30 games, while his 379 career punt return yards are 5th best at Yale. His work as a midfielder on the lacrosse team has helped the defending Ivy champs win three straight league tournament titles.

Seniors Jon Bezney and Karl Marback, two starters on the offensive line, are science guys. They have helped the Elis average over 500 yards of offense per game, but they are equally impressive off the field.

BEZNEY, a molecular, cellular and developmental biology major, worked in Yale's Bindra Laboratory this summer in the department of therapeutic radiology. The laboratory focuses on novel therapeutics for brain cancer and specifically focuses on the biology of DNA repair. His project aimed to distinguish how certain drugs react in the presence and absence of key proteins involved in DNA repair, hoping to translate the findings into a clinical setting. Bezney (Cincinnati, Ohio), a tackle who missed last year with an injury, plans to attend medical school and become a physician.

MARBACK, a biomedical engineering major and the team's rocket scientist, has been sending devices into space as part of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA). He helped build a rocket (sophomore year) that climbed to 10,000 feet and collected microbes from the air to learn more about what is living in the atmosphere. Marback (Birmingham, Mich.) moved from the defense as a sophomore and then started every game at center last year.

Anders Huizenga, a guard, is a political science major who spent 8 weeks last summer in the legal department at Mercy Health, a Catholic non-profit hospital system in Ohio. He also spent 4 weeks interning for The Cooper Law Group in Colorado Springs, Colo. Huizenga (Trophy Club, Texas), who is known for his Yoga interests, plans to intern with the firm again next year and then go to law school.

Bliksem, in South Africa, is slang for hitting, which is what Dieter Eiselen does very well on the Yale offensive line. The South African native, who played rugby from ages 7 to 16 before switching to Olympic weightlifting, was fascinated by the American gridiron and wanted to find a way to play after graduating from his local high school. He attended a football camp in Washington, D.C., and immediately garnered interest from colleges. He got in as a PG at Choate Rosemary Hall and then attended the Yale camp to get ready for his first season of football. Eiselen, who worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie last fall, is the starter at guard this fall.

Sterling Strother (Moraga, Calif.), who earned a starting job at tackle last fall as a newcomer, is now Yale's center, playing the position for the first time. He learned to snap while staying at QB Kurt Rawlings' house the summer before their first season in New Haven. (Rawlings' father is a high school football coach, but Strother also learned from his own father, who did not play football but his son calls a "jack of all trades."). Strother, who is considering a major in psychology and has played all five spots on the Yale o-line, became a starter early in the 2016 campaign.

The name may remind you of baseball (gloves), and his brother is a college baseball player, but Kurt Rawlings is all about the gridiron, having grown into the game as the son of a high school football coach. The sophomore from Bel Air, Md., got the last three starts of 2016, including a win at Harvard, and picked up where he left off last fall. Rawlings completed 20 of 26 passes at Lehigh for 308 yards and four TDs to earn Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, College Sports Madness Ivy Player of the Week, honorable mention STATS FCS Offensive Player of Week and College Football Performance honorable mention national performer of the week.  He has 10 TD passes in nine career games (4 starts).

Rawlings in 2017
at Lehigh: 20-26, 308 yards, 4 TD, 0 int.
vs Cornell: 10-17, 123 yards, 1 TD, 1 int.
Senior DB Hayden Carlson, Yale's active career leader with 219 tackles, scored his first TD on his seventh career interception last Saturday vs. Cornell… Senior TE Jaeden Graham has five career catches. He got his first TD on a four-yard play against Cornell… 32 Bulldogs made tackles vs. the Big Red, including sophomore DB Tosan Agbeyegbe, who had five solos. He was called for "targeting" on one of those tackles (when the QB slid at the last second and he made contact) and will have to miss the first half of this week's game.

Christopher Williams-Lopez (Duluth, Ga.), nicknamed "C-Lo," is the active career leader in receptions at Yale with 85 in just 13 games, while his 915 yards and four TDs are also tops on the team. The former Greater Atlanta Christian High School football and track captain came to New Haven as a Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society member. He was also on the GACS President's list and won the school's citizenship award.

Junior Alex Galland (Bakersfield, Calif.) is handling the punting and place kicks this season. He leads the Ivy with a 44-yard punt average, while five of his eight punts have been inside the 20. Last summer, in addition to working out, Galland interned as a mechanical engineer, helping design facilities for Hess Oil. The mechanical engineering major in Pauli Murray College was building 3D models and making sure they were compliant with state laws. His Yale career placekicking numbers are: 8-12 on FGs, 33-34 on PAT.

Sophomore lefty PK Sam Tuckerman (Bexley, Ohio) takes the Yale kickoffs and has four touchbacks this fall. He and a teammate did a 6-week, intensive Spanish immersion program last summer through IES Madrid in order to test out of Yale's language requirement. Tuckerman embraces the nicknames his high school friends use for him: The Hefty Lefty, The Hebrew Hammer.

Junior Hunter Simino (Portage, Mich.) has been the top long snapper in every game since he arrived at Yale. When Simino was in fourth grade, his neighborhood friend (the offensive line coach at the rival high school) brought him to the rival school's football camp and spent the day teaching him to snap. He missed the second half at Lehigh this year with an injury, and the emergency snapper, TE Jaeden Graham, had to snap for kicks and punts.
Seven members of the 2017 team earned all-league honors last fall or in 2015. Here are the current All-Ivy players:

CB Spencer Rymiszewski '17 – First-Team 2015 *
DT Copache Tyler '17 – First-Team 2015 *
DB Jason Alessi '18 - Second-Team 2016
OL Karl Marback '18 - HM 2016
LB Matthew Oplinger '18 – HM 2015, 16
DE Kyle Mullen '19 - HM 2016
RB Alan Lamar '20 - Second-Team 2016 (missing 2017 due to injury)
*missed 2016 season and is a senior this fall

The current roster includes the following:

87 High School football captains
53 High School captains of an additional sport
61 National Honor Society members
7 High School Class Presidents
3 High School Student Body Presidents
3 High School Valedictorians
2 High School Salutatorians

Yale players were surveyed about their teammates:
Most humorous: OL Anders Huizenga
Most intelligent: OL Jon Bezney
Most vocal leader (besides the captain): LB Matt Oplinger
Most interesting extracurricular activity: OL Karl Marback (rocket building)
Best singer: RB Kamsi Nwangwu
Strongest pound-for-pound: LB Matt Oplinger
Most involved in community outreach: QB Rafe Chapple

The 2017 Yale football team represents 24 states and 3 countries… California (14) has the most Bulldogs… Andrew Grinde is the first player from Montana since Greg Magee in 1998… Cameron Warfield is the first player from Washington, D.C. since John Kemp in 1990… Ross Drwal is the first player from Nebraska since Christopher Beutler in 1965… The heaviest player on the team is sophomore offensive lineman Sterling Strother at 310 pounds… The tallest player is freshman offensive lineman Grant Negali at 6-8… The Yale starting offensive line averages 6-5 and 299.6 pounds… The school with the most (6) players is a college prep called Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn.

There are three JV games slated for 1 p.m. at home this fall: Sept. 24 (Milford Academy); Oct. 15 (Brown) and Nov. 17 (Harvard). The Bulldogs lost a close game to Milford but had some great performances. RBs Kamsi Nwangwu (Woodbridge, Conn.) and Michael Purvey Jr. (Houston, Texas) scored rushing TDs, while Stephen Barmore (Southington, Conn.) threw scoring passes to WR Garret White (Newport Coast, Calif.) and TE J.J. Howland (Fiskdale, Mass.). LB Jack Westafer (Saint Paul, Minn.) had an interception and a sack for the defense.

Yale Player, Game, Honor
Kurt Rawlings, Lehigh: CSM, Ivy, STATS, CFP    
Zane Dudek, Lehigh: Hero, Ivy H, STATS
Zane Dudek, Cornell: Ivy R
Deshawn Salter, Cornell: Ivy H

The Awards Index
(CSM) College Sports Madness Ivy POW
(Ivy) Ivy League Offensive Player of Week
(Ivy R) Ivy League Rookie of the Week
(Ivy H) Ivy League Honor Roll
(STATS) STATS FCS Honorable mention
(CFP) College Football Performance Awards
(Hero) Hero Sports candidate

The Cornell game is Youth Day at the Bowl… Health, fitness and sustainability is the focus for Oct. 14 with Holy Cross… Columbia is Hero's day… The Friday night Brown contest is Yale Employee and Community Game… Harvard is "Fill the Bowl" with the Connecticut Food Bank.

Yale TE D. Major Roman, who made a few catches in the Sept. 24 JV game, is a finalist for the 2017 NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete Award. The awards honor these football players for their accomplishments as high school athletes, scholars and citizens. The winners will be announced October 4 and will travel to New York for the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon in December.


filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity