No. 14/15 Bulldogs Grind Out 17-7 Win Over Brown in Rain, Stay Unbeaten
Nov. 3, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The cold, windy, rainy conditions at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field on Saturday afternoon made things tough on both offenses. But with the Yale defense holding its opponent to seven points for the third time in four games, the Yale offense eventually came through. Two second-half touchdowns -- a 31-yarder by sophomore tailback Jordan Farrell and a two-yarder by Payton Award candidate junior tailback Mike McLeod -- erased a 7-3 deficit against Brown and propelled the Bulldogs to a 17-7 win. Yale is now 8-0 overall, 5-0 in Ivy League play, for the first time since 1981. McLeod, playing through an injury, ran for 185 yards and set the school record for career rushing yards in the process.
"It just was not a day to throw the football," said Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "Our strength is running the ball, and we ran for 335 yards. But if we don't play defense the way we did, it was going to be a ballgame down to the end."
As it was, Brown held the lead on Yale for 13:20, the third-longest amount of time an opponent has led the Bulldogs all year. Yale's first drive ended with a fumble at the Brown 26, but the Bulldog defense held the Bears to a three-and-out -- the third time this year a Yale opponent's first drive has ended after three plays. Overall Yale's opponents average only 4.75 plays for 13.25 yards on the first drive.
A punt gave Yale the ball at the Eli 45, and a big play by senior quarterback Matt Polhemus ate up a good chunk of that yardage. He took the ball left and had senior tight end Langston Johnson blocking in front of him, junior wide receiver Jarrett Drake blocking down the field, and plenty of room to run. Brown did not get to him until he had reached the seven-yard line, a 40-yard jaunt that was the longest of his career. Polhemus attempted only six passes but would end the day with 17 carries for 69 yards.
"Polhemus was the difference," said Brown head coach Phil Estes. "You try to stop a guy like McLeod or Jordan [Farrell] and they run a counter with the quarterback. We didn't do a good job of containing him."
Four plays later, senior place kicker Alan Kimball's 20-yard field goal made it 3-0 Yale.
The next Yale drive was highlighted by a 15-yard run by McLeod, one where he juked one Bear to the turf then slipped past another group of defenders before finally being brought down. That gave him 3,398 yards for his career, passing the school record of 3,393 set by Robert Carr '05 from 2001 to 2004.
McLeod, who set the school career rushing touchdown and career scoring records along with the single-game rushing yard record earlier this year, also set the school rushing attempt mark Saturday, passing Carr's total of 738 and finishing with 761.
"It's always great [to set records]," McLeod said. "But it's not really about the records. Those will come at the end of the year."
That drive ended when the Bulldogs could not convert a fourth-and-four at the Brown 14. The Bears got only as far as their own 47 before a tackle by junior linebacker Bobby Abare and sophomore cornerback Paul Rice for a three-yard loss on third-and-one.
Brown grabbed a 7-3 lead on a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Dougherty to wide receiver Buddy Farnham at 11:39 of the second, the first play after a Yale punt. That would be the end of the scoring for the half as the rain continued pouring down, the second game in a row that Yale has played in soggy conditions.
McLeod was admittedly not 100 percent, still hobbled by the injury that he limped off Penn's Franklin Field with two weeks ago. The cold conditions did not help. He still had gutted it out for 25 carries by halftime, with sophomore backup tailback Ricardo Galvez in for three runs to spell him near the end of the half.
Midway through Yale's second drive of the third quarter, Farrell got his shot. His first run was doomed from the start as he was tackled in the backfield, but he responded immediately by taking the next one 14 yards. After a one-yarder by McLeod Farrell broke off a six-yarder, and Polhemus then took the next one 37 yards for a touchdown only to have the play negated by a holding call against the Bulldogs.
Polhemus made sure the offense remained focused after having the score taken off the board.
"I said we've got to keep going," Polhemus said. "There are holes there, and plays to be made. The guys on the line just played so hard."
Two plays later, Farrell delivered. He started left but found no opening, so he stopped and the rest of the play developed in what seemed like slow motion.
"I was just joking in the lockerroom that I looked like a fifth-grader on that play," Farrell said after the game. "The conditions were so bad, I just stopped and everybody flew by."
Farrell's maneuver opened up the middle of the field, and he dashed into open space and onward to the end zone with 5:01 left on the clock.
The defense made sure that the Bulldogs' lead was safe. Rice broke up a long pass on Brown's first play after the touchdown. The drive was prolonged momentarily when the Bulldogs ran into punter Steve Morgan on a fourth-down punt; Brown went for the first down on fourth-and-one and got it. But three plays later junior defensive end Brady Hart baited Dougherty into an interception at the Yale 27, timing his move into the passing lane perfectly.
Brown's first drive of the fourth quarter ended with Dougherty pressured into throwing the ball to senior strong safety Nick Solakian at the Yale 37, making this the fourth straight game and sixth on the season in which Yale has had multiple interceptions.
Midway through the fourth Yale began the drive that would all but put the game away. A punt into the wind by Brown gave the Elis the ball at the Bears' 37. Farrell ran for 26 yards on the drive, but McLeod's eight yards were key: six came on a fourth-and-three at the Brown 30, and the last two came on the touchdown run that made it 17-7. That also extended his school record for consecutive games with a touchdown to 17.
"Mike was hurting," Siedlecki said. "We used him in short yardage -- he felt he could get those first downs for us."
A sack by junior defensive end Kyle Hawari ended the next Brown drive at the Bears 30 with 4:47 to play. Brown did get the ball back with 3:35 left, but Dougherty -- who had entered the day leading the FCS in passing with 326.1 yards per game but managed only 99 Saturday -- threw four straight incompletions, including two broken up by senior linebacker Lee Driftmier. Driftmier also made the final tackle of the game on the last Brown drive, which ended at the Bear 37.
Yale and Harvard remain the only 5-0 teams in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs play at Princeton next Saturday (1:00 p.m.).
The Tigers are the only team to beat Yale in the Bulldogs' last 17 games. They were also the team that ended Yale's quest for a perfect season in 1981; a win over Princeton would give the Bulldogs their first 9-0 start since the 1960 team finished its nine-game season unbeaten and untied.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity
- Mike McLeod runs for 28 yards on the Bulldogs' first offensive play
- Matt Polhemus' 40-yard rush
- A 21-yard run by McLeod
- Jarrett Drake makes a 12-yard catch to convert a third down despite a pass interference call against Brown
- A sack by Brady Hart
- Kyle Hawari denies Brown on third-and-four shortly after the start of the second half
- An 11-yard run by McLeod
- Jordan Farrell's 31-yard touchdown
- Paul Rice dives to break up a pass
- Hart's interception
- Nick Solakian's interception
- McLeod converts a fourth-and-three
- Farrell's 11-yard run set up ...
- ... McLeod's two-yard touchdown
- A sack by Hawari
Postgame Press Conference: