Bulldogs Air It Out in the Bowl
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A message was delivered today and all the FCS should take notice. The Bulldogs can play with anyone in the country.
Juniors QB Kurt Rawlings and WR Reed Klubnik connected on touchdown passes of 7, 24 and 6 yards while the defense allowed just 13 first downs and 264 yards of total offense as the Yale Football Team improved to 2-1 with a 35-14 win in its home opener at Yale Bowl against No. 16 Maine.
The Yale offense opened the game with a 75-yard drive that ended with a one-yard run by Rawlings, who was responsible for four scores today. The early momentum helped the home team compile leads of 21-0 and 28-7 before adding the final points late in the fourth quarter after the defense stopped the Black Bears (2-2) on a third straight fourth-down try.
"We were just focused on helping our defense out as much as they were for us," said Rawlings. "It was fun to see the O-Line hold them. When they bring their A-Game with physicality, it's fun to sit back there, especially with the talent we have outside [at receiver]. Today was fun."
Klubnik, who finished with six catches for 85 yards, made a diving catch in the end zone with 1:13 left that clinched the victory. He and junior WR JP Shohfi (10-124) and sophomore TE JJ Howland (3-69) were the primary targets for Rawlings, who finished 22-for-34 with 306 yards and three scores. All of this came against a Black Bears defense that held FBS foe Central Michigan to 17 points last week.
The Blue took a 14-0 lead into halftime after Klubnik scored the only touchdown of the second quarter. "We found a mismatch, a one-on-one with a linebacker in a good spot," said Klubnik. "I was working one way and able to get some speed. Kurt dropped a good ball, the O-Line protected, and it was there.
Yale's defense made Maine QB Isaiah Robinson (10-for-27) uncomfortable in the pocket all day. Pressure from a rotation of Bulldogs on the defensive line helped sophomores LB Jordan Carey (4-2-6) and Rodney Thomas II (5-0-5) have big games.
"Our goal is to go out and dominate," said senior CB Marquise Peggs, who had three solo tackles including one for lost yards. "Our mentality has been to bring it, and today we did."
The Bulldogs, who were 4-for-4 in the red zone today, had the ball for nearly 35 minutes and made it tough for the visitors to mount a comeback.
"We've improved so much in the last 14 days because of [our players'] character and relationships with each other," said Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach. "It really makes a coach proud. We focus on our play and our standards. We play to win every play, and respond when we don't. I'm very proud of this group of guys."
by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity