November 6, 2004

Bears Hold Off Elis in 2nd Half

Nov. 6, 2004

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A big first half but nothing over the last 30 minutes. That has been the story for the Yale football team over the last four games. This time it cost the Bulldogs a 24-17 decision to Brown.

Yale (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) moved the ball all over Brown Stadium in the first two quarters and had a 17-14 lead. There were fewer (199) yards of total offense in the second and the Elis could not score despite six opportunities in the red zone.

The loss spoiled record-breaking days for a pair of Bulldogs. Quarterback Alvin Cowan completed 31 of 57 passes for 419 yards and two scores while passing Joe Walland on both the career total offense and passing yardage lists.

Then there was Plymouth, R.I., native Ralph Plumb, who caught 18 passes (2nd best in Ivy history) for a school-record 258 yards (4th for Ivy player). He broke Eric Johnson's Yale game and career yards record in this game.

"I know they'd give back a few of those catches and a few of those yards to win the game," head coach Jack Siedlecki said of his two senior stars.

Brown, which forced four turnovers and held the ball for 13 minutes more than the Elis, got a nice day from quarterback Joe DiGiacomo (35-19-0, 240 yards) and running back Nick Hartigan (41-135, 2 TD), though the game's top rusher was held off in the first half.

Cowan tried to go to Plumb on the first play from scrimmage but the pass was tipped by Brown linebacker Zak DeOssie. The ball sailed over Plumb's head and into the hands of defensive back Rashad Collins. The Bears, who got the ball at midfield after a blocking penalty on the interception, converted the opening-play turnover into an early, seven-point lead when Hartigan took a pitch and rambled into the end zone from four yards out at 10:39 of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs got on the board a few series later in the same quarter with a 28-yard field goal from Andrew Sullivan (1-for-4 on the day) at 3:55. Cowan completed four passes, including three to Chandler Henley, and Robert Carr ran for 25 yards on the drive to help Yale cut the lead to 7-3.

Yale's defense came up with a pair of sacks and a few big hits in the first half to keep it close, though the most significant accomplishment was holding Hartigan to 32 yards. That led to the visitor's first TD of the day. Cowan picked apart the Bear defense on a 78-yard drive midway through the second to put the Elis ahead. The senior quarterback tossed a pretty spiral towards wide receiver Ashley Wright as the sophomore sprinted down the right sideline with a defender close by. Wright went high with his third step in the end zone and hauled in his first career TD reception at 7:28.

Cowan broke the career passing yards record (9-yarder to Plumb) a play before connecting with Plumb (who later broke the school career receiving yards record with a 37-yard grab and the single-game mark with a 9-yarder) on an 11-yard scoring toss to put the Bulldogs up 17-7 at 3:50

DiGiacomo and the Bears put together a 78-yard drive that resulted in their second TD, an 11-yard pass to David Turner with 56 seconds left in the half that made it 17-14.

The Bulldogs had time to put more points on the board, and Cowan drove them quickly down the field with big passes to Plumb (9-134 in the first half) and Henley (5-60). But the drive ended when a pass in the end zone bounced off a defender and was intercepted by DeOssie. Despite Yale's 299 yards of offense in the first half, Cowan was picked a career-high three times.

Steve Morgan's 21-yard boot at the 9:38 mark of the third quarter tied the score at 17, but the Brown defense deserved most of the credit. Yale's opening possession, which included a big sack, went three-and-out and a short punt gave the home team great field position.

Brown got the lead back with its most impressive (80-yard) drive of the day. DiGiacomo completed a 37-yard pass to Jarrett Schreck (9-160) and Hartigan got 21 yards on one carry before punching it in from one yard out to make it 24-17 with 14:48 left in the fourth.

Midway through the fourth the Bulldogs were threatening to tie the game again when their they suffered a fourth turnover. With third-and-one on the Brown 25, and Yale in the shotgun formation, a low snap and bobbled handoff resulted in a fumble recovery by lineman Mike Stefanacci.

"Once you get down in the red zone you have to realize the field is shorter," said Cowan. "We don't have the threat of throwing it over their heads."

The Bulldogs still managed to get the ball back and have a chance with another nice drive. This time it ended on a fourth-and-three on the 24-yard line. Cowan's pass toward Plumb was off target and Brown took over the ball with 5:33 left. That was Yale's last realistic opportunity to tie the score, getting the ball back with 2:04 left but not taking it onto the Brown side of the field.

"We had some great individual efforts on both sides of the ball but couldn't get it done," said Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki.

report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director

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