Last-Second Field Goal Lifts Yale to 31-28 Win Over No. 11 Colgate
Oct. 2, 2004
New Haven, CT - A 37-yard field goal by Andrew Sullivan with 7 seconds left gave Yale a 31-28 win over No. 11 Colgate Saturday afternoon at the Yale Bowl. Sullivan's boot capped a comeback from a 28-14 deficit that saw Yale (2-1) score 17 points in a stretch of 4:40 in the fourth quarter. Colgate (2-2) had its streak of six straight wins against Ivy opponents snapped.
"Without question that's one of the best team wins we've ever had here," noted Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, Jack Siedlecki.
A crowd of 17,089 on hand for Youth Day festivities saw the Bulldogs get off to a slow start offensively. The only scoring of the first quarter came on a 35-yard pass from Colgate QB Chris Brown to WR DeWayne Long on a post pattern.
The Elis began moving the ball effectively on the first play of the second quarter, though, with QB Alvin Cowan connecting with WR Ralph Plumb on a 30-yard completion to the Raider 17. TB Robert Carr banged his way down to the 5-yard line after that. A penalty for not having enough men on the line of scrimmage cost Yale five yards, but that just gave the Bulldogs room to have Plumb run past his man into the endzone to catch a perfectly-thrown pass from Cowan for a game-tying touchdown.
The Raiders got a 34-yard completion from Brown to WR Luke Graham on the second play of their next drive, and then got a key fourth-and-one conversion by TB Jamaal Branch at the Yale 4. Branch took the ball into the end zone on the next play.
The Bulldogs had good field position on their next two drives, starting one at the 50 and one at the Yale 43, but got no closer than Colgate's 25-yard line. The Raiders took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The Yale defense opened the second half on the right note, with DE Don Smith batting down a Brown pass and LB Ben Breunig tackling Branch for a 4-yard loss on back-to-back plays. WR Chandler Henley's 16-yard return on the ensuing punt set Yale up just 42 yards from the end zone. A 16-yard completion to TE Ted Stem (his first career catch), followed by an 11-yard run from Carr, got Yale to the 14. Cowan dumped the ball off to an open TE Alex Faherty there, and he raced into the endzone to tie the score.
The Raiders overcame two holding calls on the next drive to go ahead again, scoring on a 6-yard shovel pass from Brown to Long at the Yale 6-yard line. The next Yale drive was stymied by two straight false start penalties while the Bulldogs were facing a crucial third-down conversion. Carr's 17-yard dash on third down thus left Yale still 12 yards shy of a first down and the Bulldogs had to punt.
Branch added a 5-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, adding a sense of urgency to Yale's next drive. A 33-yard kickoff return by Carr got the drive started right, and Carr also converted a fourth-and-1 with a 15-yard run. Cowan capped it with a 7-yard touchdown toss to Stem to draw Yale within seven with 4:47 to play.
The defense came up with the big play it needed on the next drive. Brown thought he had a man open and lofted it down the right sideline, but S Matt Handlon drifted over to make a leaping interception at the 46-yard line with 3:53 to play. Carr then broke off a 31-yard run, aided by a block from Henley down the field, to help get the ball to the Colgate 12. On second down from there, Cowan sprinted right, spotted Henley at the back of the end zone and put one up for him. The junior leaped over two Colgate defenders to make a spectacular game-tying grab.
"I tell Alvin all the time just throw it up there and give me a chance," Henley said. "On that one I must have got some extra spring in my step."
Colgate got the ball back with 2:13 to play at its own 27 but managed just seven yards. DL Andrew Ralph stopped Branch - last year's Walter Payton Award winner as the top offensive player in I-AA - for a 1-yard loss on first down. After an 8-yard completion on second down, Brown's third-down pass fell incomplete and the Raiders had to punt.
Yale got the ball back at its own 45 after a 13-yard return from Henley. Cowan converted a crucial third-and-5 with a 9-yard pass to Plumb. A 15-yard run by Carr got the ball to the 26, where Yale called time with 47 seconds to play. Cowan tried two passes to Henley that fell incomplete, and had to scramble for 6 yards on third down. With the Bulldogs bringing out their field goal unit, the Raiders called two straight timeouts with 11 seconds left in an attempt to ice Sullivan. The senior didn't even get the chance to see his kick clear the uprights, as he was hit by Colgate for a roughing the kicker penalty that Yale happily declined.
"I saw it hugging the right post, then I got knocked down," Sullivan said. "Then I saw the [referee] on the end nod to the other dude and I knew it was good."
Sullivan, whose first varsity field goal had come just two weeks earlier, was mobbed by his teammates.
"Sully's a kicker, so he gets his fair share of ribbing," Cowan noted. "But there's nobody else on our team I would have wanted out on the field in that situation."
Sullivan also booted the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to Colgate's Ray LaMonica, who was surrounded for a 4-yard loss and fumbled while attempting to lateral the ball. The Raiders' Mike Chrystie recovered the ball, but by then time had expired and the Elis swarmed the field in celebration.
Yale returns to Ivy League play with a trip to Dartmouth next Saturday.
report by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity Department