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Blue Takes on Big Green Saturday

Klubnik's grab in 2016 (Jack Warhola image)
Klubnik's grab in 2016 (Jack Warhola image)

3-0 Teams Meet at Hanover



NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale Football Team, which improved to 3-0 with a win at Fordham last week, meets another 3-0 team this Saturday. The Bulldogs and Dartmouth, both 1-0 in Ivy play, have a 1:30 kickoff at Memorial Stadium that airs live on the Ivy League Network, ESPN3 and on WELI Radio (AM 960).

The Elis and the Big Green meet this week for the 101st time.  Yale leads the series 54-40-6, but Dartmouth has taken four of the last five, including the last two at Hanover.

Everything came together at the right time for the Bulldogs as the team registered a 21-13 victory over Dartmouth at the Bowl last October. The offense erased a 10-0 deficit with 14 straight points in the second quarter – including a spectacular grab in the end zone by Reed Klubnik - and never lost the lead. Yale's defense came up with big plays, holding the Big Green to a season-low on the scoreboard.

Yale, after wins over Lehigh and Cornell, had its most complete performance of 2017 last week with a 41-10 win at Fordham. The Elis, who went from 14 penalties the week before, to just three, jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the Rams could figure out what was happening. The visitors took a 28-3 lead into intermission and could have gone into relax mode after receiving the second-half kickoff. Instead, the Bulldogs went 65 yards on four plays to put the game out of reach.

Dartmouth, which opened with wins over Stetson and Holy Cross, captured its initial Ancient Eight contest with a last-second TD at Penn that produced a 16-13 decision. The Big Green lead the Ivy in scoring defense, total defense and a few other categories. Their offense is operated around a traditional starting QB, Jack Heneghan (23-31, 199, 1 TD at Penn), and a wild-cat substitute, Jared Gerbino (11-71, 1 TD), who scored the winning TD on the game's final play against the Quakers.

RBs Deshawn Salter (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Zane Dudek (Kittanning, Pa.) combined for five of Yale's six TDs at Fordham and have been among the best combos in FCS play this fall. Salter, the team's active career TD leader with 15, is second in the nation with seven TDs and a 14.0 points average. He is third with a 9.1 average per carry. Salter has two straight games with three TDs, the most for an Eli back since Mike McLeod had consecutive triple TD games in 2007. Dudek is No. 2 in the FCS with a 10.2 average, while his 120-yard average is sixth. 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. Dudek's Western Pennsylvania high school single-game rushing record (492 yards) was broken while he was making his collegiate debut at Lehigh. Freshmen Andrew Grinde (Great Falls, Mt.) and Michael Purvey Jr. (Houston, Texas) and junior Kyle Ellerson (Oradell, NJ) have also seen varsity action. 

Four Elis had sacks at Fordham, pushing the team total to 15 in three games, which is one shy of the 2016 total. Sophomore defensive end Charles Callender (Cutler Bay, Fla.), seniors LB Matthew Oplinger (Summit, NJ) and DL Copache Tyler (Springfield, Ill.) and junior DE Kyle Mullen (Manalapan, NJ) are the team sack leaders. 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 29 games (142 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 132 career tackles and five interceptions over 31 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 480 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.  Rawlings established a Yale record for completion percentage with 18 connections (including the first 14 straight) on 20 attempts at Fordham. He has 11 TD passes in 10 career games (5 starts).

Rawlings in 2017
at Lehigh: 20-26, 308 yards, 4 TD, 0 int.
vs Cornell: 10-17, 123 yards, 1 TD, 1 int.
at Fordham: 18-20, 189 yards, 1 TD, 1 int.
Christopher Williams-Lopez (Duluth, Ga.), nicknamed "C-Lo," is Yale's active career leader in receptions with 90 in an injury-shortened, 14-game career. The senior WR leads the team this fall with 15 catches and 202 yards. He led the Blue with 60 catches in 2015. 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.

Yale is ranked No. 1 in the FCS in five team categories, including sacks and completion percentage… The 10 points allowed at Fordham were the least for a Yale defense since a 21-10 win in 2015 at Maine… Senior DB Hayden Carlson, Yale's active career leader with 224 tackles, scored his first TD on his seventh career interception vs. Cornell… Senior TE Jaeden Graham may be the most improved player on the 2017 team. He has TD catches in consecutive games and has become a target after three years of trying to win a spot in the lineup.

Junior Alex Galland (Bakersfield, Calif.) is handling the punting and place kicks this season. He is second in the Ivy with a 41.6-yard punt average, while six of his 11 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, 38-40 on PAT.

Sophomore lefty PK Sam Tuckerman (Bexley, Ohio) takes the Yale kickoffs and has six 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, who wears bright yellow cleats, 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… 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 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; Cornell: Ivy R
Deshawn Salter, Cornell: Ivy H; Fordham: 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.

The Big Green set a school record with 38 completions in a 2001 game played on Sunday in the Bowl. The game was moved back a day for Yale's tercentennial celebration… Dartmouth set a record with 419 passing yards in 1992 behind the arm of NFL QB Jay Fiedler… Yale's five TD passes in 1968 were the most ever scored on Dartmouth. Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill helped in the scoring effort… Dartmouth notched a school record with six fumbles recovered against the Blue in 1953. That Jordan Olivar Yale team went 5-2-2… Yale quarterbacks were picked off nine times in 1939, school records for both teams… The most points allowed by a Dartmouth team were 113 against Yale in an 1884 shutout. Walter Camp, who would later become Yale's coach, played in that game.

Oct. 30, 1937: Yale, ranked No. 5 by the AP poll hosted No. 9 Dartmouth and the teams played to a 9-9 draw before 71,002 fans, the largest Bowl crowd in the decade of the 1930s. It's the only time two top ten teams played in the Bowl. Bob McLeod put Dartmouth ahead with an 87-yard interception return. Yale trailed 9-2 when Yale All-American Clint Frank drove Yale 65 yards in the last two minutes and connected with Al Hessberg, the "Albany Express," on a 35-yard TD pass with 3 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter.



filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director -