Bulldogs Open Home, Ivy Slate Saturday at 12:30

Bulldogs Open Home, Ivy Slate Saturday at 12:30

Sept. 17, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale football team (1-0 overall, 0-0 Ivy) celebrates the 93rd season of home games in Yale Bowl and the Class of '54 Field by opening the 2007 Ivy League schedule with Cornell (1-0, 0-0) in the newly restored national historic landmark. The game can be heard live on WELI (960-AM), WYBC (1340-AM) and on 960weli.com and wybc.com. There will not be a TV broadcast or video stream of this contest.


Yale leads the series with Cornell 41-26-2 heading into the 70th meeting. The series began in 1889 with a 60-6 Bulldog win at New Haven. The Blue has won two straight since a 19-7 Big Red win in 2004 at Ithaca. Yale is 27-12 at home against Cornell.


The Bulldogs, currently No. 21 for the second straight week in the Sports Network Poll, have been ranked as high as No. 18 and as low as 25th in seven different FCS (formerly I-AA) polls this year. The Blue is also No. 21 in this week's FCS Coaches Poll.


Yale's starting offensive line averages 280 pounds compared to a Cornell defensive front that goes at 255 (25-pound difference). The Bulldog defensive front (243 lbs) faces a 46-pound disadvantage against the Big Red OL (289 lbs).


Jack Siedlecki (Union '74), in his 11th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, is 111-66-2 as a collegiate head coach, 55-44 at Yale. Siedlecki, who is 7-3 against the Big Red, has coached in four of the oldest rivalries in college football (Lehigh-Lafayette, Yale-Princeton, Yale-Harvard and Amherst-Williams). Jim Knowles, in his fourth year at Cornell, is 1-2 against Yale and 16-15 overall in Ithaca.


Both squads faced spread-option Patriot League foes and held them to a pair of TDs last week. Both offenses had big rushing days and surprisingly good passing performances in their openers. Here's how Yale and Cornell compare on the stats pages.


Junior TB Mike McLeod rushed 31 times for 157 yards and scored all four Yale TDs as the Bulldogs opened the season with a 28-14 win at Georgetown on Sept. 15. McLeod reached the end zone twice in the first quarter and once each in the third and fourth to squelch the Hoyas' comeback hopes. Sophomore HB John Sheffield led all Yale receivers with eight catches for 115 yards as the Blue never trailed. Yale senior QB Matt Polhemus completed 14 of 22 throws for 193 yards. There were some scary times for the favored visitors. The Hoyas failed to score on six plays inside the five yard line. Three of those plays came late in the third with Yale leading 21-7. 2006 Patriot League Rookie of the Year Charlie Houghton (19-98) was knocked down shy of the goal line on fourth down from the one. LB Jay Pilkerton, making his first start, led all tacklers with 18 (5-13) total stops. The Georgetown offense had more first downs (23) than Yale and came within 26 yards of the Bulldogs in total offense. Hoya QB Matt Bassuener completed 27 of 37 passes for 181 yards and two scores.


Senior TE Langston Johnson took Yale's Offensive Line award for his blocking performance at Georgetown. Junior TB Mike McLeod (Offensive Back), junior LB Jay Pilkerton (Defensive Back), junior LB Larry Abare (Special Teams), DE Brady Hart (Defensive Line) and senior OL Louis Gresham (Hammer - hardest hit) also earned honors.


"Georgetown executed its offense better than I expected. They did a tremendous job. They broke some tackles and made some plays. We made two goal-line stands that were huge. Our best defensive player, captain Brandt Hollander, did not play, but we played hard and we played well enough to win. Mike McLeod can really wear people out late in the game. The fourth quarter was his, and he dominated it."


Senior RB Luke Siwula became the sixth player in Cornell history to surpass 2,000 yards rushing and reached the end zone a career-best three times as Cornell thumped Bucknell 38-14 before 10,118 at Schoellkopf Field last Saturday night. The Big Red extended its home win streak to six games with the easy victory. Siwula scored on runs of 2, 3 and 1 yards while finishing the afternoon with 81 yards on 21 carries. Cornell's aerial attack was the best surprise on opening day for Big Red fans. Using three, four and five-receiver sets, junior QB Nathan Ford tossed for 288 yards while completing 31-of-45 passes, both career-highs. Ford, who also ran for two TDs, connected with WR Stephen Liuzza seven times. On the other side, Cornell's defense allowed only 152 yards on the ground on 43 carries and limited the Bison quarterbacks to 8-of-21 passing for just 88 yards, including 35 yards on an inconsequential touchdown with 1:45 remaining in the contest. Juniors Tim Bax and Anthony Sabo each had a team-best nine tackles, with Bax adding a forced fumble and a pass breakup.


Junior FS Steven Santoro (3-4-7 vs. Georgetown) stepped in front of an open Hoya receiver in the fourth quarter for an interception and the game's only turnover... Senior PK Alan Kimball interned in the U.S. Attorney's Office this past summer... Former Southington (Conn.) High QB Matt Kelleher is the backup long snapper for the Bulldogs... Offensive linemen Bryan Kana and Stephen Morse started their first Yale games against Georgetown. Both are converted from other positions, Kana was a DL and Morse a FB... Larry Abare was credited with a TD saving tackle late in the third quarter on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line.


Cornell is 3-11 on the road and 1-6 on real grass under head coach Jim Knowles. The Big Red ground attack has averaged 215 yards over the past two years with 40 TDs, while its defense was ranked second in the country with just over 88 yards per game allowed... The 38 points scored against Bucknell were the most by Cornell in a season opener since 1986.


The Ivy League went 2-5 vs. the Patriot League last Saturday. Harvard fell (31-28) in a close one to Holy Cross, Colgate came back to shock (31-28) Dartmouth in OT, Fordham handled (27-10) Columbia, Lafayette squeezed (8-7) past Penn in a defensive struggle, and Lehigh got little fight (32-21) from Princeton. The only Ivy winners were Cornell over Bucknell and the Bulldogs over Georgetown. Meanwhile, Brown had no trouble (28-17) with MAAC League opponent Duquesne.


Senior QB Matt Polhemus rushed for 24 yards and threw for 193. His 217 yards of total offense led the Blue and inlcuded a 32-yard connection with junior WR Jarrett Drake.


Sophomore John Sheffield enjoyed a fine debut as a starter. The former WR and TE turned H back snared eight passes for 115 yards. Sheffield, who played WR for the 2006 Yale JV, had seven catches for 110 yards in the first half, including a leaping, 26-yarder.


Senior center Nick Wachtler started the Georgetown game but left early in the first half with an injury and was replaced by junior Ty Davis. Wachtler, a 2006 honorable mention All-Ivy pick, weighs 24 pounds more than Davis. The Elis were already figuring out how to replace consensus All-American tackle Ed McCarthy. Senior All-Ivy guard Jeff Monaco is back and played most of the opener last week. Junior Darius Dale started last week and looked like he has recovered from an injury riddled 2006. Senior guard Stephen Morse, a former LB and RB who has earned two letters from special teams, and converted junior DL Bryan Kana (tackle), who had 14 tackles and played in every game last fall, made their first career starts last week.


Three senior Bulldogs who sat out 2006 with injuries made successful return performances last week. WR Chris Denny-Brown rushed once for three yards, caught one pass and returned three punts for 21 yards. FS Nick Solakian made four tackles and LB Lee Driftmier had three.


The Yale team poll revealed some interesting facts about the Bulldogs. QB Richie Scudellari and LB Bobby Abare are considered the hardest working players. DT Stephen Schmalhofer is the funniest, DE Matt Plummer the smartest and TB Mike McLeod the most athletic. The best leader other than the captain is QB Matt Polhemus, while captain Brandt Hollander was voted the strongest. Bobby Abare has been named the toughest. WR Jarren Simmons (most musical), RB Dave Silberstein (community service) and DB Tim Handlon (most likely to be U.S. President) also were listed the most.


The Elis are the 2007 pick of the Ivy by every media prognosticator. This is the first time Yale has been slated No. 1 by the Ivy media since 2000 when Cornell and the Blue shared the top spot. The Bulldogs were picked fifth last year before sharing the league title with Princeton. The August 2007 picks were: 1. Yale; 2. Penn; 3. Harvard; 4. Princeton; 5. Cornell; 6. Columbia; 7. Brown; 8. Dartmouth.


One of the most recognized of the college football prognostication publications, Street & Smith picked them this way: 1. Yale; 2. Princeton; 3. Harvard; 4. Penn; 5. Cornell; 6. Columbia; 7. Dartmouth; 8. Brown... Offensive Top Player: Mike McLeod, Yale; Defensive Top Player: Joe Anastasio, Penn, LB; Top Newcomer: Nicolai Schwarzkopf, Harvard, TE


DE Joe Hathaway was named the player with the most unique hobbies (Star Wars trivia knowledge, WWE fanaticism)... LBs Shebby Swett and Jay Pilkerton were voted the guys most players would want their sisters to date... Seventy percent of the team lives on campus... No player owns a bulldog but 91 percent of the team prefers dogs over cats... The favorite New Haven restaurant among the Elis is Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant... Carmen Anthony (Steak House) came in second.


Junior fraternal twins LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare (started as a DB in 2006) are possibly the only twins in college football starting together on defense. Public address announcers around the league are familiar with the last name. The Abares led the Blue in tackles and combined for five interceptions in 2006.


Yale captain Brandt Hollander sat out the season opener with an injury suffered in the pre-season scrimmage. In his place, seniors Louis Gresham, Kirk Porter and Joe Fuccillo, who are all from the D.C. area, served as honorary captains for that game. Hollander, who could return for this Saturday's contest, is listed by the players as the strongest (bench press of 480, hang clean 368) guy on the team. He is a senior nose guard from Indianapolis.


Yale has not won a national football title since 1927, but the Bulldogs still have more championships (26) than any other school in the country. Notre Dame is second with 11 national titles. In addition, the Elis were the first football team of any kind to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.


The normal practice week is from Tuesday through Friday, 4:15 to 6:15. Note that Friday times could be altered on travel days. Practice is held on the fields behind the baseball stadium (Yale Field) and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center (back of Payne Whitney Gym). Players might be available for interviews before/after practice around the Smilow Center or out on the fields. It is best to email Steve Conn to arrange a meeting at least a day before you would like to speak with a player or coach.


Despite suffering both 2006 losses on the Class of '54 Field, the Yale Bowl has been a happy place for Bulldogs. Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard, the Blue has gone 355-187-21 (563 games) at home. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 117-74-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home.


There are five sets of brothers on the 2007 Yale roster: LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare; DBs Matt and John Coombs; DE Eric and OL Louis Gresham; DE Brady and QB Brook Hart; and student assistant coach Kevin and DL Tom McCarthy. LB Tim Handlon, DB Rylan Spence, FB Jack Wallace and student assistant coach Mike Cautero had brothers that used to play football at Yale.


Somewhere between 500 and 700 New Haven children will take part in sports clinics, a youth fair and more in the 2007 Yale Youth Day on Sept. 22, the day of the Bulldogs' home opener against Cornell. Youth football games in the morning are followed by clinics, a youth fair, a pass-kick competition and more. Contact Youth Day co-chair Don Scharf '55 (432-7678) for more information.


Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team with offensive stars such as Rich Diana (Hamden High) and John Pagliaro (Derby High), and 2007 is no exception. QBs Ryan Fodor (Hand of Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington High) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. In addition, RB Mike McLeod (New Britain High) was the New Haven Register's player of the year. Pagliaro's son, John Jr., came to Yale this fall from Maryland.


This Wednesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by senior DT Jared Hamilton. The Galiette Luncheon interviews can be heard (not live) on Don Boyle's sportingnewsct.com. Yale's weekly media luncheon was named after legendary play-by-play announcer Dick Galiette, who called Yale Football for 33 seasons until his death in 2005.


Eric Johnson '01, starting TE for the 0-2 New Orleans Saints, opened the season with eight catches for 57 yards against the Colts and then added three and a fumble recovery against Tampa Bay... Nate Lawrie is a backup TE for the offensive-minded Cincinnati Bengals (1-1), who opened with a win over Baltimore before losing a shootout with Cleveland... Dick Jauron '73 is in his second season as head coach of the Buffalo Bills (0-2)... Mike McDaniel '05, a former Yale WR, is an offensive assistant with the 2-0 Houston Texans.


1995 Yale captain Tony Mazurkiewicz is studying at Georgetown to become an ordained priest... Nick Sinatra '03, who was well known for both his football and his cooking for Bulldog teammates, works in the White House as the associate director of political affairs... Both were seen at the game last Saturday.


Phase 1 restoration of Yale Bowl and the Class of '54 Field has been completed and a dedication event is scheduled for the Nov. 17 Harvard game. Phase 2, which begins next spring, includes the Jensen Family Plaza, which will be located on the walkway to the Bowl from Central Avenue, and honors the Jensen brothers: Irving '54, Colin '57, Erik '63 and Mark '67. The welcoming plaza will serve as the perfect place for fans to gather before and after games. The Kenney Family Field Center, which includes renovations to the existing field center and halftime room and additional special event space, will also be completed in the next phase of Bowl renovations. It honors the Kenney brothers: Jerry P. '63 (who will be honored by the Ivy Football Association in January), Brian R. '60, Robert D. '67 and Richard L. '71, and a son, Jeffrey S. '93.


For the ninth straight season, the Walter Camp Football Foundation honors Yale's game MVP as the Walter Camp Yale Player of the Game. This award is handed out both at home and on the road. Mike McLeod took the award vs. Georgetown with four TDs and 157 rushing yards. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others. He compiled a 67-2-0 record and won three national titles as coach.


As always, there are numerous activities centered around The Game on Nov. 17. One of the highlights is the handing out of the George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards at the Blue Leadership Ball (Nov. 16). The honorees include Richard P. Cooley '44, Charles B. Johnson '54, Anne F. Keating '77, James McNerney '71 and Kurt L. Schmoke '71. Johnson and Schmoke played football at Yale. This year, Yale also celebrates the completion of phase one of the Yale Bowl, Class of '54 Field restoration with a dedication ceremony. In addition, there are many alumni functions.


NEWS/TALK 960 WELI will broadcast all 10 Yale football games this fall on 960-AM and online at 960WELI.com. Ron Vaccaro '04 returns for his second year as play-by-play announcer. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza, a 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, returns for his 10th season as color commentator. If you are not within listening range of WELI, you can access the games via TEAMLINE at 1-800-846-4700 and enter Yale's four-digit code of 5682. WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party broadcast. Kristafer, who has WELI's weekday morning show, speaks with Vaccaro about the Elis every Friday morning at 8:15.


WYBC (1340-AM) also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show. Bob Heussler, WYBC's Director of Football Radio Broadcasts, and Anthony Brooks, the station's sports coordinator, lead a talented group of Yale student broadcasters who can also be heard on wybc.com. WYBC also broadcasts Yale Sports Monday from 8-8:30pm, a show that wraps up each Yale football game and includes interviews with head coach Jack Siedlecki and the New Haven Register's Sean Barker. The show is hosted by Anthony Brooks, Sam Purdy, and Alex Jenson.


Designed to keep Yale Athletics fans and alumni informed and entertained, the voice of the Elis, Ron Vaccaro '04 hosts a series of netcasts available via Apple iTunesU. This series will feature season previews, event coverage (such as Yale's Ivy title clinching defeat of Harvard in The Game last year), and commentary from coaches, players, and analysts, while also taking the fan inside special events such as the Blue Leadership Ball. You can download from iTunesU at yalebulldogs.com (see Yale Athletics Netcasts on right side of front page).


The Blue has six games on the tube this fall, three of which are at home. The Sept. 15 Georgetown game is a tape-delayed broadcast on Verizon Fios One in the D.C. area. The Oct. 6 game against Dartmouth on NESN is the ECAC Game of the Week. WFMZ-TV airs the Oct. 13 Lehigh game in the Bowl that also shows up on FSN Pittsburgh (DirecTV 628, Dish Network 428). The first of two road games on YES Network is Oct. 20 at Penn, the second is Nov. 10 at Princeton. The 124th edition of The Game will be carried on HDNet nation wide (available on DirecTV 79, Dish Network 9422 and various cable providers), SportsNet NY (New York), WPHL (Philadelphia), WLVI (Boston) and WTXX (Hartford). Jack Ford '72 will provide color on the broadcast after serving as master of ceremonies at the Blue Leadership Ball.

release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director