Oct. 18, 2003
HAMILTON, N.Y. - The battle of unbeaten squads - 4-0 Yale at 6-0 Colgate -- at Andy Kerr Stadium produced plenty of points and big offensive plays. In the end , the Raiders increased the nation's longest win streak to 13 with a 52-40 victory over the Bulldogs before 7,895 on Homecoming Day. Jamaal Branch ran for four scores and quarterback Chris Brown threw two TD passes to highlight Colgate's offensive output. Yale quarterback Alvin Cowan set a team record with 466 yards of total offense, including 421 yards passing, in the defeat.
Both teams entered the game averaging better than 440 yards of total offense, so a shootout was not unexpected. The Bulldogs, who had not played at Hamilton in 12 years, did not feel at home on the game's initial possession. After three runs failed to produce a first down, Nate Lawrie's punt was blocked by linebacker Jared Nepa deep in Yale territory. The 18th ranked Raiders turned that into the game's first points, as Branch beat the defense to the corner on a five-yard scamper at 11:22. It was the first points of the game but also the first time Yale trailed in a game this fall.
Cowan and the Yale offense answered on the ensuing, 11-play, 70-yard drive. The Elis' QB scrambled and found several different receivers to move the ball close enough for John Troost to boot a 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
The home team put some distance between the squads with a pair of TDs in 57 seconds. After a long scoring pass from Brown to Luke Graham, another Yale miscue turned into a touchdown. Cowan rolled out to his left and was being pulled down by defensive end Tom Cassano when the Bulldog decided to get rid of the football. The only problem was the ball floated up five yards down field and right into the hands of defensive back Ryan Disch, who easily raced 23 yards for a score to make it 21-3.
The Bulldogs climbed back into the game early in the second quarter. Cowan led Ralph Plumb on a pretty 24-yard hookup at 2:26 of the first. Then the Yale special teams returned the favor on a punt deep in Colgate territory. Mike Holben blew past the line and got a hand on Jason Sutton's punt. It was the second time this year that Yale had a punt blocked and blocked a punt of its own in the same game. On the next play, Cowan connected with Plumb again in the end zone to make the score 21-17 at 12:15 of the second.
After the teams traded short field goals (Troost split the uprights twice for the third straight game), the Raiders got six on a seven-yard, jump-ball style pass to tight end John Trieser with 46 seconds left in the half. That play was set up by a long pass to Graham, who finished the first 30 minutes with five catches for 106 yards.
The 31-20 score at intermission represented more points allowed by both defenses than they were averaging for an entire game. The Elis adjusted and did a good job containing the Raiders in the third quarter except for one big play. With under a minute left, Branch, who had been held to 2.6 yards per carry in the first half, bounced off Yale tacklers, picked up more blocking and rambled 68 yards to bump the lead to 38-20. Branch entered the contest as I-AA's leading rusher with 163 yards per outing; he would finish Saturday's game with 143.
The Elis got one back with a 20-yard run by David Knox, but a long kickoff return by Mike Chrystie and a one-yard run by Branch at 8:49 made it 45-27. The Colgate runner added his fourth late in the final frame and Plumb snared a 30-yard TD pass from Cowan with 3:08 left. Cowan ran one in after the Bulldogs recovered an onside kick, and a failed two-point conversion attempt left the final score at 52-40. It was the end of a bittersweet day for Cowan, who had career highs with 35 completions, 421 yards passing, and 55 attempts. Lawrie also set a personal record with 16 catches.
The 52 points allowed by Yale were the most since Connecticut tallied 63 in a 1998 game at Yale Bowl. The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday at Penn.