September 25, 2004

Bulldogs Fall In Ivy Opener, 19-7

Sept. 25, 2004

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ITHACA, N.Y. - Despite a valliant effort from its defense, Yale dropped a 19-7 decision to Cornell in the Ivy League opener before a crowd of 11,835 at Schoellkopf Field.

Just like the season opener at Dayton, this game did not begin auspiciously. Cornell drove 65 yards in 12 plays for a 32-yard Trevor MacMeekin field goal on its opening drive. The Eli offense responded with just one first down before having to punt from the Yale 23. The snap sailed over P Tyson Crawford's head, and as he gathered it in the endzone he was surrounded by several Big Red defenders. Opting not to take the safety, he booted it cleanly and a Yale bounce took the ball all the way out to the 40.

The Yale defense allowed just five yards after that, setting up a fourth-and-five on the Yale 35. Cornell went for it, and QB D.J. Busch rifled one to WR Chad Nice. But Bulldogs DB Fred Jelks arrived just in the nick of time to knock the ball away and get possession back for Yale.

A holding call on first down quickly derailed Yale's next drive, and the following one was also a three-and-out. But whereas Crawford boomed a 59-yarder after the first one, on the second one he barely grazed the ball, sending it bouncing forward. After it had ricocheted off several players Cornell covered the ball at the Eli 23. The Big Red drove as far as the Yale four before DE Brandon Dyches came up with a big second-down tackle for a two-yard loss, leading to a 23-yard MacMeekin field goal.

The Big Red continued to win the field position game by dropping Yale QB Alvin Cowan for sacks on consecutive plays on the next drive, the second of which pushed Yale to its own five for another Crawford punt. Cornell drove to the Eli three this time before being stopped, but even that stand came with a loss. LB Kenneth Estrera limped off the field after the Bulldogs stopped TB Joshua Johnston for a five-yard loss on third down. MacMeekin's third field goal of the day made the score 9-0 and energized the home crowd, but the Bulldogs were in many ways thankful not to be down 21-0.

The offense finally clicked on the next drive, with Cowan dropping one in over the Cornell defenders to WR Ralph Plumb for 36 yards. Six plays later Yale caught a break when Cornell left Plumb uncovered and Cowan got the ball to him for a 24-yard touchdown. The 9-7 halftime score seemed reasonable in light of how much worse it could have been if not for Yale's defensive stands.

The second half settled into a defensive struggle dominated by the fronts of each team. The Big Red contained the Yale running game - holding TB Robert Carr to 41 yards on 15 carries for the day - but the Eli defense was making life difficult for Busch as well. DL Nick Campbell and DE Brandon Etheridge got to Busch on back-to-back plays on one series midway through the third. But Cornell did have a steady edge in field position and in possession time - 28:32 to Yale's 16:28 as the third quarter came to an end. As the fourth quarter began Cornell drove from its own 41 to the Yale three, where a fourth-down pass interference call in the endzone gave them first-and-goal from the Eli two. Two plays later, TB Andre Hardaway drove the ball in for a touchdown and a 16-7 lead with 12:07 to play.

MacMeekin added a 29-yard field goal with 1:54 left to seal the victory.

The Bulldogs play their home opener next Saturday against Colgate at 1 p.m. at Yale Bowl.

report by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity Department

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