November 1, 2003

Bulldogs Back On Winning Track, 29-14 Over Columbia

Nov. 1, 2003

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Knowing that a second loss in the Ivy League would likely end their title hopes, the Yale Bulldogs got a much-needed win at Columbia, 29-14. The win snaps a two-game losing streak and improves Yale to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the league. Columbia dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the league.

The Lions went for a big play right off the bat with a tricky onside kick on the opening kickoff. It appeared as if kicker Nick Rudd was setting up to kick it to his left, but the right-footed Rudd instead kicked it with his left foot toward the right sideline. Columbia nearly recovered, but the ball went out of bounds and Yale started at its 35. The Elis then came up with a big play of their own, as QB Alvin Cowan found WR Ralph Plumb for a 25-yard completion. Three plays later it was time for another big play, as TB Robert Carr took a pitch right through a huge hole opened by the Yale offensive line and FB Alex Faherty. Carr went all the way from the 30 to the one before SS Stephen McKoy chased him down. Two plays later, Carr lowered his shoulder and powered through McKoy into the endzone. The extra point was blocked by Columbia DT Michael Quarshie.

Columbia then responded thanks to a fortunate bounce, as a Yale defender tipped a pass into the arms of WR Zachary Van Zant for a 17-yard completion to convert a third-and-four. Two plays later, QB Jeff Otis lobbed one to TE Wade Fletcher in the endzone and the extra point gave Columbia a 7-6 lead.

Yale's next drive featured two touchdowns called back due to penalties, one a 17-yard run by Carr and the other a 13-yard pass to WR Ron Benigno. The Bulldogs had a chance to make up for that when Cowan completed a 17-yarder to Benigno that set up fourth and goal at the one. But Carr was stopped from there and the Lions maintained their lead.

The Yale defense allowed Columbia just two yards on the ensuing drive, and after the punt the Eli offense went to work at the Yale 48. Cowan converted a third-and-eight with a nine-yard pass to Benigno. Two plays later, he hit TE Nate Lawrie for a huge 23-yard gain to the Lion 17. After just missing a touchdown on a spectacular one-handed catch in the endzone by WR Chandler Henley - he was ruled out of bounds - the Bulldogs got two runs from Carr to eat up the last 12 yards. Troost hit the extra point for a 13-7 lead just before the end of the first quarter.

Two turnovers negated each other early in the second, as LB Kenneth Estrera picked up one that TB Ayo Oluwole dropped at the Columbia 31, but WR Ralph Plumb lost the ball three plays later and Lion CB Prosper Nwokocha recovered in the endzone. But when the Bulldogs got the ball back again they made things happen, thanks once again to excellent blocking. TB David Knox found a huge hole opened by the offensive line, followed a block by Faherty, and raced 70 yards to the Columbia two. Carr then came on in relief and took a pitch from Cowan into the endzone. Troost's extra point gave Yale a 20-7 lead. At the end of the first half, Troost added a career-long 44-yard field goal to increase Yale's lead to 16.

Columbia scored first in the second half, getting a 28-yard touchdown pass from Otis to WR John Reuter at 6:05. The Bulldogs dodged another bullet when Nwokocha picked off a Cowan pass and returned it 33 yards to the Yale 25; the defense forced the Lions to settle for a 36-yard field goal attempt, which Rudd missed wide right. Troost added to Yale's lead with a 33-yard field goal at 12:11 of the fourth quarter.

The defense made a key stand to end any Columbia comeback hopes midway through the fourth. The Lions got to the Yale five for first-and-goal. After a three-yard run by TB Ayo Oluwole, LB Kenneth Estrera dragged Oluwole down for a six-yard loss on second down. Otis' third-down pass sailed just out of the reach of Van Zant in the endzone, and on fourth down he floated one too high for Fletcher. The Bulldog offense then took over and drove from its own nine to the Columbia six for another Troost field goal with 2:23 to play. Columbia's next drive ended when DB Fred Jelks pulled down an Otis pass in the endzone for an interception with 1:57 to play.

Yale hosts Brown next Saturday at 12:30 PM.

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