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Home Opener Saturday at 1 p.m.

Jack Warhola image
Jack Warhola image


Yale Football's Team 146, coming off a 30-24 Ivy League opening game win over Cornell last Saturday that evened its record at 1-1, opens its home slate this Saturday with a 1 p.m. kickoff against the University of Maine (2-1), ranked No. 13/16 in the FCS and making its first visit to Yale Bowl since 1937. The game airs live on ESPN+ as well as ESPN Radio (AM 1300) and iHeart Radio.

Yale (8-0-1 overall) got its first win (37-0) at Yale Bowl against Maine in 1915, two years after the first meeting (0-0 tie). The Yale defense has not allowed a point to be scored in seven of the games with the Black Bears. The teams played eight times between 1913 and 1937 but just once since then, a 21-10 Yale win at Orono in 2015.

Zane Dudek scored two touchdowns, Spencer Alston ran for 120 yards and another score and Alex Galland booted three field goals in the win at Ithaca last week. J. Hunter Roman led the defense with seven tackles (4 for losses), a sack and one critical pass breakup on a long pass play.

Maine limited Central Michigan (FBS) to just 177 yards of total offense on 57 plays and a pair of TDs but fell 17-5 on the road. The Bears' first loss of the year came despite RB Ramon Jefferson averaging 5.8 per carry, Kenny Doak booting a 38-yard field goal and Richard Carr blocking a punt that became a safety.

In the first meeting in 78 years, TE Leo Haenni's one-handed reception on a fourth quarter drive, quickly followed by a RB DeShawn Salter touchdown run, put Yale ahead for good in an eventual 21-10 win over the Black Bears at Alfond Stadium. Captain Cole Champion had four pass break-ups in key spots, while DB Spencer Rymiszewski had a team-high nine tackles and one interception.

The young Yale team, which had one senior starting the first two weeks, has needed help from newcomers. Spencer Alston, who also caught a pass for 21 yards and was named Ivy Rookie of the Week, made his collegiate debut at running back against Cornell as the backup to Zane Dudek. However, he wasn't the only first-year Bulldog to impact the win. DB Dathan Hickey (4 tackles), LB Noah Pope (2), DL Reid Nickerson (2) and DB Kyle Ellis (1) got significant snaps for the defense, while WR Noah Aaron had a pair of important catches for 39 yards.

Junior QB Kurt Rawlings, whose mobility kept plays alive against a blitzing defense, completed 18 of 25 throws for 283 yards. His primary targets, juniors JP Shohfi (7-91) and Reed Klubnik (6-100), stepped up with big days at Cornell.

Through 19 career games, junior QB Kurt Rawlings is climbing the Yale career rankings:

Completions: 297 (8th)
Yards: 3,550 (8th)
Attempts: 473 (8th)
Total Offense: 3,818 (8th)
TD Passes: 25 (9th)

RAWLINGS in 2017: Honorable mention All-Ivy League QB... 2nd in Ivy and 5th in FCS with Yale record .673 completion percentage... 2nd Ivy/10th FCS in pass efficiency (154.7)... 2nd in Ivy with 19 passing TDs (4th best at Yale)... Passed for 2,320 yards, 3rd in Ivy (6th best at Yale)... 1st Yale sophomore QB to lead team to Ivy title since 1979 (John Rogan)... Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, College Sports Madness Ivy Player of the Week, STATS FCS Honorable mention, College Football Performace Awards after 20-of-26 game with 308 yards and 4 TDs against Lehigh...  His fourth-quarter drive at Penn brought the Elis from behind to victory, while Rawlings was masterful in erasing a 17-point deficit at Princeton..  Established a Yale record for completion percentage with 18 connections (including the first 14 straight) on 20 attempts at Fordham...  Was 26-of-34 for 304 yards and 2 TDs to help Yale clinch Ivy title at Princeton.

Rawlings Career Bests:
Completions: 26 at Princeton 2017
Attempts: 34 at Princeton 2017
Yards: 308 at Lehigh 2017
TDs: 4 at Lehigh 2017

Voted captain by his teammates last August… Senior DL using 5th year of eligibility… 54 tackles, 6.5 TFL in 28 career games… Former Fairfield Prep star is 18th Yale football captain from CT, 2nd Milford native… Political Science major, Ezra Stiles College… Grew up attending Yale games and always wanted to be a Bulldog.

Sophomore RB Zane Dudek has 17 career TD runs and is one shy of cracking Yale's career top 10 list.

DUDEK in 2017: Phil Steele FCS Offensive Freshman of the Year and First Team Freshman All-America... Finalist for Jerry Rice Award for FCS Rookie of Year... CSM Freshman of the Year... Phil Steele and CSM Third-Team All-America... Ivy League Rookie of the Year... First-Team All-Ivy League... New Haven Gridiron Club's Harry Jacunski Award... Led league in every rushing and scoring category including yards (1,133, 9th at Yale), yards per game (113.3), rushing TDs (15, 5th at Yale), yards per carry (7.1, 2nd in Ivy history, ties Yale record set in 1956), overall TDs (16), points (96, 2nd in FCS) and all-purpose yards (134.5)... First true freshman to lead league in rushing... Best Yale freshman football season ever for a running back... Six games over 100 yards... Ivy rookie of the week six (last 5 straight) times and the offensive player of the week once... STATS FCS National Rookie of the Week and took both Ivy honors after going for 173 yards against Columbia... Hero Sports Candidate, Ivy League Honor Roll, STATS Honorable Mention after rushing for 131 yards on nine attempts and 2 TDs against Lehigh... Ivy League Rookie of the Week after rushing for 173 yards on 16 attempts and 1 TD against Cornell.

Dudek Career Bests:
Yards: 217 at Holy Cross 2018
Attempts: 35 at Princeton 2017
Rushing TDs: 3 vs. Brown & at Princeton 2017

A pair of juniors who were All-Ivy picks last fall are playing side-by-side this season on Yale's offensive line. LT Sterling Strother (Moraga, Calif.) and LG Dieter Eiselen (Stellenbosch, South Africa) are both over 300 pounds and command great respect from opponents. Strother was a college hoops prospect who was convinced by his high school football coach to focus on the gridiron. Eiselen was a rugby player and weight lifter in South Africa looking for a way to become a college football player. He accomplished that by learning the game quickly while attending an American prep school.

There are many leaders among the 2018 Bulldogs:
Captains of HS football team: 82
Captain of another sport in HS: 50
National Honor Society Members: 45
HS Class Presidents: 6
HS Class valedictorians: 2

DL Charles Callender '20 – Second-Team 2017
DB Malcom Dixon '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
RB Zane Dudek '21 – First-Team 2017
OL Dieter Eiselen '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
Alex Galland '19 – Second-Team 2017
QB Kurt Rawlings '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
OL Sterling Strother '20 – Second-Team 2017

The 2018 Yale football team represents 24 states and 4 countries (US, Canada, England, South Africa)... California has the most players with 14... Connecticut and Texas have the second most with 9, while New Jersey and Massachusetts both have 8... Kamsi Nwangwu, from Woodbridge, is the Bulldog whose home is closest to the campus... Dieter Eiselen, from Stellenbosch, South Africa, came the farthest to attend Yale (nearly 7800 miles)... The tallest players on the team are So. Grant Neagli and Jr. Jett Sexton, who stand at 6'7. Grant Neagli is also the heaviest player at 325 pounds… The average for Bulldog O-linemen is 6'4 3/4 and 290 pounds…. The average DL is 6'3 1/4 and 254 pounds.

A survey of the team produced some interesting anecdotal information about the Bulldogs.
Most humorous: Spencer Matthei & Rodney Thomas II
Most intelligent: Alex Galland
Most vocal: J. Hunter Roman
Most likely to become president: JP Shohfi
Most interesting extracurricular: Alex Galland (plays in Yale Band)
Best singer: Kamsi Nwangwu
Strongest (pound-for-pound): Alan Lamar, Melvin Rouse II
Most involved in community: John Lager

When you win, schools come calling. Three coaches from the championship team left Yale last winter. OC Joe Conlin became Fordham's head coach and took DB coach Paul Rice with him. TE coach Chandler Henley went to the NFL with Titans.

New Members: Matt Cerins (TE, intern on Yale staff 2017), Ben Olson (DL, at Colgate in 2017, brother of Jake Olson, Chief of Staff), Al Netter (OL, at Michigan in 2017).

Changes: Kevin Cahill went from Pass-Game Coordinator to Offensive Coordinator; Art Asselta (WR) is now Pass-Game Coordinator; Jordan Stevens went from DL in 2017 to co-Defensive Coordinator and LB coach.

Zane Dudek became the first Yale back to go over the 200-yard mark and not score a TD this year at Holy Cross… Sophomore QB Patrick Conte threw his first collegiate TD pass when he connected with JJ Howland in the first half at Holy Cross… Melvin Rouse's 100-yard KOR at Holy Cross not only tied the school record for longest return but was the first time in Yale history that an Eli scored on a kick on the season's first play.

Three Yale seniors from the 2017 championship team were on NFL rosters over the summer and made it to the final cut. Foyesade Oluokun made the 53-man Atlanta Falcons roster, while Jaeden Graham is currently on the Falcons' practice squad. In addition, Matthew Oplinger played in multiple exhibition games and turned some heads.

3 Yale Stars Make NFL Mark:
•    Foyesade Oluokun (LB, Atlanta, drafted), Two-time All-Ivy League Selection
•    Jaeden Graham (TE, Atlanta, FA), 2017 First-Team All-Ivy League Pick
•    Matthew Oplinger (LB, Arizona, FA), 2nd Team All-American and 2017 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year

Yale University will celebrate the life of Hall of Fame football head coach Carmen L. Cozza on Nov. 10 prior to the game against Princeton at the Bowl. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. inside Coxe Cage. Cozza, who coached the Bulldogs to 10 Ivy titles in 32 seasons, passed away on Jan. 4, 2018. The Elis are wearing a patch on their jerseys this season to honor the college football legend.

All 10 games air live on AM (960 WELI or 1300 ESPN) as well as iHeart Radio with Ron Vaccaro '04 and Jack Siedlecki providing the call.

All of Yale's home games as well as Ivy road games in 2018 are on ESPN. Most of them are on ESPN+, a subscription based (Watch ESPN) streaming platform, but the Bulldogs will be on TV three times (Dartmouth, Penn, Harvard) this fall. Links will be available on for each streamed game. International viewers who cannot get ESPN+ may watch on the Yale portal presented by Stretch Internet.

Yale and Harvard have never played each other at a professional sports venue, so this year's edition of The Game is truly unique. The Nov. 17 contest takes place at Fenway Park with a noon kick on one of the ESPN networks. The 135th meeting of Yale and Harvard is also unique because it sold out in a few days last spring. That's the earliest tickets have ever gone on sale and the fastest the tickets have been sold.  The New York Post recently came out with "The 20 Best Experiences College Football Has to Offer" and The Game ranked No. 5 behind Clemson (Howard's Rock), Army-Navy, Notre Dame (TD Jesus) and Wisconsin's "Jump Around."

Sept. 15: Zane Dudek (Ivy HRoll); Ryan Burke (Ivy HRoll)
Sept. 22: Spencer Alston (Ivy ROW); Alex Galland (Ivy HRoll)

Five games and five different promotions for 2018:
Sept. 29 (Youth Day)
Oct. 5 (Employee Night)
Oct. 13 (Heroes' Day)
Nov. 3 (Community Day)
Nov. 10  (Fill the Bowl)