August 31, 2006

Two TDs for McLeod Highlight Scrimmage at Princeton

Aug. 31, 2006

PRINCETON, N.J. - Sophomore tailback Mike McLeod ran for two touchdowns, including a 59-yarder, to highlight Yale's performance in a preseason scrimmage at Princeton Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns and allowed only two for the day.

The biggest news for Yale came before the scrimmage, as junior Matt Polhemus emerged as the team's starting quarterback. Polhemus had been battling sophomore Ryan Fodor for the job since last spring, but with the season opener 15 days away Polhemus officially took the reins on Thursday.

"Matt started to separate himself a few days ago," said Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "Ryan had a great day today, and he has to be prepared to play. I think our kids have confidence in both of them."

After a number of positional drills involving both teams, the intensity got ratcheted up for some situational drills shortly after 2:00. Yale's goal line offense operated effectively against the Princeton defense, but the Bulldogs' goal line defense stole the show by denying an entire series of Princeton tries from the doorstep. After the goal line drill, the teams ran through several more situations before moving to game action.

The Bulldogs' opening drive ended with an interception at the Yale 34, and the Tigers scored five plays later. Yale's first touchdown was set up by a special teams play. Freshman punter Tom Mante's boot from the Yale 41 was fumbled by Princeton's Jeb Heavenrich (forced by sophomore defensive back Steven Santoro) and recovered by sophomore linebacker Jay Pilkerton at the Princeton 14. Two plays later, McLeod spun off one would-be tackler on his way to the end zone from 13 yards out.

The Tigers scored again after a blocked punt set them up at the Yale one-yard line two minutes into the second quarter. Yale, and McLeod, answered back four plays after that. Aided by a terrific block from senior fullback Taylor Craig just past the line of scrimmage and once again near the goal line by a block from senior wide receiver Chandler Henley, McLeod's 59-yard run gave the Elis their second score of the day.

"He looked very good," Siedlecki said of McLeod, last season's Ivy League Rookie of the Year. "Our offensive line did a really good job, and Mike's an exciting player."

Contact to the quarterback was not allowed, but the Bulldog defense nonetheless had back-to-back "sacks" on Princeton's ensuing drive, the second of which (by junior defensive end Stephen Schmalhofer) pushed Princeton back to its own 29, where the Tigers had to punt on fourth and 15.

The second teamers came on for the third quarter, when special teams play was discontinued. Fodor completed seven of eight passes during one stretch, helped by a nice one-handed grab by sophomore wide receiver Grant MacQueen. Fodor and junior tight end Jordan Stevens connected on a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the only score for either team in the second half.

Yale opens the season Sept. 16 at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field, against San Diego at Noon.

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity