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Yale, Princeton Saturday with Title on LIne

Yale, Princeton Saturday with Title on LIne

Bulldogs, Tigers Meet For 140th Time

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The last time a Yale football team had a chance to clinch an Ivy title in week No. 9 was in 2006. The Bulldogs, 7-1 overall (4-1 Ivy), shared the championship with Princeton that season, and they have the Tigers (5-3, 2-3) this Saturday with another clinching opportunity. The Elis, who sit atop the Ivy League standings, take a four-game win streak into Princeton Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff that airs live on Eleven Sports (DirecTV 623, ILN, Twitter) and WELI Radio (960 AM).

Yale was on the field at the Bowl last Saturday at 1 p.m., but there was no game. While six other league teams were in action, the Elis took a team photo. The Ivy standings, which showed a three-way tie before Friday's Yale-Brown game, looked much different Saturday afternoon. The Elis won Friday to improve to 4-1. Columbia (3-2) fell at home to Harvard (3-2), while Cornell (3-2) lost at Dartmouth (3-2).
The first meeting was in 1873, a 12-5 Yale win. The rivalry has developed into the second-most played in college football. This week marks the 140th meeting, second only to Lehigh-Lafayette (152). Yale leads 76-53-10 overall but the old rivals have split the last six encounters.

Big plays by the Yale defense kept the Elis within striking distance through the first 45 minutes of play, but Princeton came out on top 31-3 last November at the Bowl. The Bulldogs broke up five passes, picked off another, registered four tackles for lost yardage and hurried the Tigers' two-quarterback system all day, which helped the Blue remain two scores back until 10:17 left in the final quarter.

Yale, which went 3-0 out of the league, is 4-0 at home, while no margin of victory has been less than 17 points at the Bowl. The Elis have outscored opponents 286-122 overall and have scored 39 touchdowns while allowing 16. The first half of the season was about scoring points, the second has been more about keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Yale has allowed just 32 points over the last four games, the fewest in a four-week span for the program since the 2008 squad gave up just 25 over the last four weeks, including a 14-0 win at home over the Tigers.

Yale scored on its first three possessions and four of the first five offensive series before Brown had a chance to get comfortable in a 34-7 Elis win last Friday night at Yale Bowl. Zane Dudek notched a 165-yard, three touchdown performance in his first collegiate start. His scoring runs were from 68, 36 and seven yards.  Dudek, who carried just 13 times filling in for Deshawn Salter, took off the for longest one on the home team's second offensive snap. Two of JP Shohfi's three catches went for scores while the defense came within a few plays of a shutout.

Princeton, which gave Harvard its most lopsided home loss in 50 years last month, has lost close games the last two weeks. At Philadelphia last Saturday, the Tigers had a game-winning TD pass with five seconds left taken away in a 38-35 loss to Penn. The official closest to the play signaled for a score but got overruled by another crew member before Princeton missed a field goal attempt that could have sent the game to OT.

The ball burst after it was kicked during the first meeting in 1873, and it took 30 minutes to replace it... Princeton's James Haxall drop kicked a school-best 65-yard field goal in a 2-1 Tiger win in 1882... Playing both ways for the entire game, Yale's "Iron Men" ended Princeton's 15-game win streak with a 7-0 win in 1934 at New Jersey... Yale held the orange and black to one first down and minus-four yards rushing in a 20-14 Bulldog win at Princeton in 1945... The 1953 Bulldogs erased a 17-0 Princeton halftime lead and won 26-24... RB Don Gesicki '76 completed a 97-yard pass play to Gary Fencik '76 at Princeton in 1975 in what was the longest pass play in Yale history as the Blue won 24-13... 1981 was the battle of Bob Holly (Princeton QB) vs. Rich Diana '82 (Yale RB). Holly, who scored the winning TD with 4 seconds left, threw for a school-record 501 yards while Diana set the Yale record with 222 rushing yards in a 35-31 Tiger win at Princeton... Kevin Moriarty '86 hauled in a 14-yard pass from Mike Curtin '86 with 5 ticks on the clock in Yale's 27-24 win in 1984... The 1995 Elis spoiled an undefeated season by winning at Princeton behind QB Chris Hetherington '96 (229 total offense)... The Bulldogs, who tied the game on a 22-yard TD pass from Alvin Cowan '05 to Chandler Henley '06 with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter, won a double-OT game at Princeton in 2003 by recovering a fumble after Yale kicked a field goal. The Tigers took a 34-31 decision at the Bowl in 2006 that led to the two teams sharing the Ivy crown.

Yale is 4-0 at the Bowl, outscoring opponents 138-37. The Elis allowed just 13 points in their last three games on the Class of 1954 Field.

Yale's win on Oct. 28 vs. Columbia was the school's 900th, a total that is third among all Division I teams. Michigan leads college football with 942 wins, while Notre Dame is second with 904. The Bulldogs' total includes a 1997 forfeit (ineligible player) victory against Penn that was legislated by the Ivy League but not recognized by the NCAA. Yale is 900-374-55 (.694) all time.

The Elis lead the Ancient Eight in 14 team categories as listed by the NCAA, including scoring (15.3) and rushing defense (79.0).

Zane Dudek (Kittanning, Pa.) is having one of the best-ever freshman football seasons at Yale with 889 yards and 11 rushing TDs. His yardage total is the best for a first-year Bulldog and the most since Levi Jackson topped the 800-yard mark in 1946. He ranks second among FCS ball carriers with an 8.9 yards per carry mark and his 11 rushing scores are fourth. Dudek leads the Ivy in four offensive categories and was placed on the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award Watch List for the top rookie in the FCS. He owns the Yale freshman record (12) for touchdowns in a varsity season and has been Ivy Rookie of the Week four times with five games over 100 yards. He was STATS FCS National Rookie of the Week and both Ivy offensive player and rookie of the week after going for 173 yards against Columbia. Dudek's Western Pennsylvania high school game rushing record (492 yards) was broken while he was making his collegiate debut at Lehigh.

Yale is second in the FCS in sacks with a 4.1 average and has 32 overall this fall. Senior LB Matthew Oplinger (Summit, NJ) is second in the FCS averaging better than one per game and has 9.5 on the year. Three (including a safety) of those came against Holy Cross, the most sacks in a game for a Bulldog in 15 years. Sophomore defensive end Charles Callender (Cutler Bay, Fla.) is second with six, while junior DE Kyle Mullen (Manalapan, NJ) has 4.5. Some of the team success in getting to QBs can be attributed to senior All-Ivy League DL Copache Tyler (Springfield, Ill.), who can require multiple blockers. Yale had a season-best six sacks against both Penn and Cornell. 
Matthew Oplinger, Yale's All-Ivy linebacker, is second in the FCS in sacks per game and now has a team-high 9.5 this year. His season total is 4th best at Yale, which is 4.5 shy of record holder Kevin Czinger (14.0, 1980). His 19.5 career sacks are also 4th (Czinger is No 1 with 27). Oplinger has also helped put points on the board. He tackled the Holy Cross QB for a safety and caught a conversion pass against Penn

Spencer Rymiszewski (West Chester, Pa.), who was voted captain by his teammates despite missing last season with an injury, has started all 32 games (152 tackles, 7 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. Rymiszewski's whose 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 158 career tackles and seven interceptions over 36 games, while his 415 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.

Senior DB Hayden Carlson (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Yale's active career leader with 258 tackles, is 14th on the school's career list. Carlson, who scored his first TD on his seventh career interception vs. Cornell this fall, now has eight picks overall. He led the Ivy League in tackles in 2015 with 92 and was third in 2016 with 95.

Seniors Jon Bezney and Karl Marback, two starters on the offensive line, are science guys. They have helped the Elis rank among the best in the nation in total offense and scoring, 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.), a semifinalist for the 2017 William Campbell Trophy (nation's top football student-athlete), 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 played football in high school. 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, who is 11th in the FCS (2nd, Ivy) with a .659 completion percentage, is all about the gridiron, having grown into the game as the son of a high school football coach (Yale's first since Dean Loucks '57). 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 21 TD passes in 15 career games (10 starts).

Christopher Williams-Lopez (Duluth, Ga.), nicknamed "C-Lo," is Yale's active career leader in receptions with 117 in an injury-shortened, 19-game career. He is currently 6th on the Yale career receptions list. His 6.50 average per game is among the top 3 in the nation, but the NCAA does not include anyone with fewer than 125 career catches. The senior WR leads the team this fall with 42 catches. He led the Blue with 60 catches in 2015. C-Lo had a season-high 10 grabs with one score at Dartmouth in 2017. 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.

The 5th longest pass play in school history was an 83-yarder that was mostly JP Shohfi running after grabbing a Kurt Rawlings short throw vs. Brown… Yale got 63 votes in this weeks STATS FCS National Poll... Sophomore CB Malcolm Dixon leads the team with 9 PBUs… Senior TE Jaeden Graham made the toughest catch of the game against Brown when he dove for a throw over the middle on third down early in the contest… Seven Elis have TD catches and five of them have three each… The Blue has outscored opponents by 75 in the first quarter, 59 in the second and 40 in the third, but have been outscored by 10 in final frames.

Junior Alex Galland (Bakersfield, Calif.) is handling the punting and place kicks this season. He is 5th in the Ivy with a 38.8-yard punt average, but his value to the team is field position control. Galland has landed 22 of his 38 punts inside the 20 while limiting opponent returns. 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. Galland, who plays the trumpet in the Yale Band and has played the national anthem at the Bowl before his own games, is 13-18 on FGs and 51-55 on PATs.

Sophomore lefty PK Sam Tuckerman (Bexley, Ohio) handles the Yale kickoffs and has a variety of tools in his kicking bag. Tuckerman is easy to spot on the field with his neon yellow UA cleats. 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.

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

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.

Yale Player, Game, Honor
Hayden Carlson - Columbia: Ivy H 
Zane Dudek: Lehigh - Hero, Ivy H, STATS; Cornell: Ivy R; Penn: Ivy R; Columbia: STATS R, Ivy O, Ivy R, CSM; Brown: CSM, Ivy R, STATS H
Matthew Oplinger - Holy Cross: Ivy H
Foyesade Oluokun - Penn: Ivy D, CSM
Kurt Rawlings: Lehigh - Ivy O, CSM, STATS, CFP; Holy Cross, Ivy H     
Deshawn Salter: Cornell - Ivy H; Fordham: Ivy H
Christopher Williams-Lopez - Dartmouth Ivy H

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

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

Every Tuesday, the Dick Galiette, Yale Football Media Luncheon, takes place at Mory's on York Street. Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach, is joined by a few of his student-athletes. Captain Spencer Rymiszewski, Zane Dudek, Deshawn Salter, Foyesade Oluokun, Matthew Oplinger, Hayden Carlson, Kurt Rawlings, Jaeden Graham, Jon Bezney, Jason Alessi, Malcolm Dixon, Christopher Williams-Lopez, Kyle Mullen and Anders Hyizenga have attended this fall.

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


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