Bulldogs Look For 3rd Straight Win

Bulldogs Look For 3rd Straight Win

Oct. 3, 2006

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale football team (2-1, 1-0 Ivy), coming off its second straight win on the road, ends a string of three consecutive weeks of travel with a Saturday kickoff at Dartmouth's renovated Memorial Field. The Big Green (0-3, 0-1) opened Ivy play last week with a loss to Penn. Ron Vaccaro '04 and legendary Yale football coach Carm Cozza call the action on WELI (AM-960), while it can also be heard on WYBC (AM-1340).

The Yale-Dartmouth Series

This is the 90th meeting between the Elis and the Big Green with Yale leading the series 47-36-6. Dartmouth played at Yale Bowl for 46 consecutive years, from 1924-1970, because the crowds at New Haven made it more profitable. Twelve of the first 15 contests ended in shutouts for Yale, while Dartmouth has won 10 of the last 15 meetings. The Bulldogs took the last meeting at New Haven in 2005, 13-0, during heavy rains. The Green has won six of the last eight at Memorial Field.

The Coaches

Jack Siedlecki (Union '74), in his 10th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale. He is 105-65-2 as a collegiate head coach, 49-43 at Yale and 5-4 vs. Dartmouth. Buddy Teevens, the former Big Green football and hockey star in his second stint as his alma mater's head coach, is 62-110-2 overall and 28-33-2 at Dartmouth. He is 2-4 against the Blue.

Bulldogs Hold On For Win at Lafayette

TB Mike McLeod, who had a career-best 172 rushing yards, had three scores as Yale took advantage of four Lafayette turnovers in a 37-34 Bulldog win at Easton last week. The Elis had leads of 9-0, 23-7 and 30-14 before the home team made a furious comeback attempt that ended with Yale WR Chandler Henley recovering an onside kick in the closing seconds. The Blue recovered three fumbles and FS Steve Santoro picked off a pass for a Yale defense that gave up 425 yards. On the other hand, Bulldog QB Matt Polhemus helped his squad accumulate 414 yards while throwing for a career-high 196 yards and scampering 28 yards for a TD.

Big Green Close To Quakers

Senior quarterback Mike Fritz threw for 255 yards and ran for a team-high 64, but Penn held off Dartmouth, 17-10, in the Ivy League opener for both teams at Franklin Field. Fritz completed 22 of 38 passes but was picked off three times as the Big Green failed to capitalize on several opportunities in the red zone. The most damaging may have been at the start of the second half when Dartmouth's Joe Battaglia recovered a fumbled kickoff. The visitor's points came on a 20-yard FG by Andrew Kempler and an 18-yard Phil Galligan reception with 37 seconds left in the game. The team stats were even other than the three Penn pickoffs. Ryan Fuselier led the Green with six catches for 66 yards, while Joe Gibalski (4-5-9) was the top tackler.

Siedlecki Said After Lafayette Game

"We got the turnovers in the first half and probably should have come away with more points. In the second half we stopped them every time we needed to. We let them off the hook a couple of times, so we've got to learn and move on. Next week is our third week in a row on the road. We've got to get guys healthy, because after our first road trip we had problems with players dropping weight."

McLeod Named Ivy Offensive Player of the Week

Sophomore TB Mike McLeod, who has six TDs in the last two games, rushed for a career-high 172 yards on 30 attempts against a solid Lafayette defense and earned his first Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors. He averaged 5.7 per carry and put the game out of reach with a 45-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. McLeod, who earned his second straight Walter Camp Player of the Game honor, had two rushing TDs and one receiving score at Cornell. His first career TD catch was a 41-yarder off a screen pass. The last Bulldog to score three TDs in consecutive games was John Pagliaro, who had three against Columbia and Penn in 1976. McLeod now has four games with more than 100 yards rushing.

On The Road Again

The Bulldogs play three straight road games in consecutive seasons, and have a chance to make it three straight victories away from Yale Bowl this week. Yale won consecutive road games (Cornell, Lafayette) for the first time since beating Columbia and Princeton in 2003. However, it was the first time that the Elis had won consecutive road games in consecutive weeks since wins over Dartmouth and Fordham in 2000.

Leading the League

The Bulldogs lead the Ivies in kickoff return average (23.2) and third-down conversions (48.6%). Sophomore FS/KR Steve Santoro is tops with a 33.6 KOR average.

Making Points

Last Saturday marked the second straight game that Yale put points on the board on its opening drive. The 37 points at Lafayette were the most in a non-league game since losing at Colgate 52-40 in 2003. Yale's nine points in the first quarter last week were the most by the Bulldogs in that frame since last fall's Cornell game.

Taylor Made His Point

Senior FB Taylor Craig was asked about not getting to touch the ball much at last Tuesday's media luncheon and stated that he had become accustomed to his role as a blocking back. Craig became more of a focal point in the win at Lafayette by catching two passes, taking two handoffs and making a key block on a long reception.

Similar Abare Impact

Identical sophomore twins Bobby and Larry Abare, who combined for 19 total tackles, two for lost yardage and a fumble recovery last week, are starters on the Yale defense. Bobby, a LB, finished with three solos and six assists while recovering a fumble. Larry, the SS, had 4-6-10 with a tackle for lost yardage. It is becoming easier to identify the Abares out of uniform because Larry has grown a beard.

Turnovers Rule

The Bulldog defense, which held one of the nation's top backs (Jonathan Hurt) to 47 rushing yards, recovered three Lafayette fumbles and picked off one pass in the win at Easton. CB Kevin Littleton and DE Joe Hathaway each had forced fumbles, while DT Jared Hamilton, DE Brendan Sponheimer and LB Bobby Abare had fumble recoveries. For the second straight week, FS Steve Santoro picked off a pass.

Bulldog Bites

Yale extended its success against Lafayette to 7-0 and the Elis are the only Ivy team the Leopards have not beaten... WR Jordan Spence, a former TB, caught a pass, returned five kickoffs for 115 yards and made an open-field tackle on kickoff return that could have gone for big yardage... PK Alan Kimball, who booted a career-long 48-yard FG against San Diego this fall, hit a 36-yarder to open the scoring at Lafayette... P Tom Mante, and the Yale punt return unit, prevented the talented Leopards from making any returns... The Blue has outscored opponents in the first and third quarters... Opponents are 4-for-4 in FG attempts against Yale... Undefeated Bulldog opponents Harvard (19) and San Diego (25) made TSN's I-AA nationa poll.

Improving Each Week

Junior QB Matt Polhemus has made progress each game in his first three starts. He enjoyed his most efficient (10 for 16) passing day at Lafayette with 196 yards, including a 63-yard TD connection with WR Ashley Wright. He also hit Wright on a 58-yard non-scoring play, and also scrambled out of the pocket for a 28-yard TD run.

Santoro Cutting It

Sophomore Steve Santoro, who has started the last two games at free safety, picked off a pass for the second straight week and earned Ivy League Honor Roll status. He also had five tackles and two pass breakups. Santoro's first touch in a varsity game turned into a 94-yard kickoff return and Yale's first points of 2006 on Sept. 16 against USD. It was the sixth longest KOR in Yale history and the longest since David Knox went 96 yards in 2002 against Penn at the Bowl.

Captain Henley

Last week's game was on the line in the closing seconds until the Yale captain recovered Lafayette's onside kick to preserve a 37-34 win. Senior WR Chandler Henley leads the team with 11 catches in three games after sitting out the 2005 season with an injury. Yale's No. 8 led the Blue with five grabs at Cornell, including a key third-down grab that gained 22 yards and set up the clinching score. Henley led Yale with six catches for 69 yards against the Toreros and earned Walter Camp Player of the Game honors. He snared a 24-yard toss from Matt Polhemus while catching more than half of the junior QB's completions.

Wright Turn

Senior WR Ashley Wright, who was first-team All-New England and All-Ivy while catching 61 passes for 795 yards and 10 scores and serving as the punter, had just five catches in two games and was not punting. The Mobile, Ala., native did haul in a 43-yard TD pass (12th of career) from Matt Polhemus against USD, but was clearly not getting enough touches until last week at Lafayette. Wright (4-151) was at the end of a 63-yard scoring play and a 58-yard connection in the road win.

Kenney To Be Honored by Ivy Football Association

Jerome P. Kenney '63 is one of eight former Ancient Eight football players who will be honored at the 2007 Ivy Football Association Dinner at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Jan. 25. Reggie Williams (Dartmouth '63), Brian Dennehy (Columbia '66), Thomas F. Stephenson (Harvard '64), Patrick T. Harker (Penn '81), Redmond C.S. Finney (Princeton '51), Louis J. Conti (Cornell '41) and Donald L. Carcieri (Brown '65) are the other honorees.

Around the Ivies

Princeton remained unbeaten with a 19-6 win over Columbia, also looking to go 3-0... Undefeated Harvard erased a 17-point deficit to take a 35-33 game at Lehigh... Cornell won its first game by edging Albany 23-21, while Rhode Island held off Brown 28-21 for the Governor's Cup... Penn won its Ivy opener with Dartmouth 17-10.

Nutmeg State Connection

Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team with offensive stars such as Rich Diana (Hamden) and John Pagliaro (Derby), but historians would be challenged to find a Bulldog squad with more in-state accolades than the 2006 team. QBs Ryan Fodor (Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. RB Mike McLeod (New Britain) was the New Haven Register's player of the year while OT Ed McCarthy (Fairfield) and DE Brendan Sponheimer (Orange) were all-state players before coming to Yale.

Looking Ahead

Yale hosts Lehigh at Yale Bowl on the Class of 1954 Field next Saturday at 12:30 in the Bulldogs' final non-league contest. The is only the second time, and the first since 1913, that Yale plays both Lafayette and Lehigh in the same fall. The Bulldogs blanked Lafayette (27-0) and Lehigh (37-0) 93 years ago. The Mountain Hawks and Leopards have played each other more times (141) than anyone in college football history.

Bulldogs Love The Tube

Six of the 10 Yale games in 2006 will air live on TV, including five of the last six. The Buldogs are on YES twice and appear on WLVI/WGN, Comcast CN8 and CSTV. The Dartmouth game is not one of the televised contests.

Cornering The Rookie Market

RB Mike McLeod became Yale's second Ivy League Rookie of the Year in three seasons when he earned the 2005 honor. The Bulldogs have had three since DB Todd Tomich became the school's first in 1997. The league began selecting its top rookies in 1981 but an Eli was not selected until 1997. Yale has two newcomers (DB Paul Rice, P Tom Mante) on the current two-deep depth chart and both of them played in the first three games. Rice, playing for a banged up Kevin Littleton at Lafayette for most of three quarters, had a career-high 4-1-5 and a PBU. Mante had a 41-yard punt and pinned the Leopards inside their 20 twice while not allowing a return on four kicks.

Numbers Don't Lie

Yale Strength & Conditioning Coach Emil Johnson put the Elis to the test the first two days of practice and there were some interesting results. The following players topped the charts: DT Brandt Hollander (hang clean, 368.5 1bs); FB Stephen Morse (bench, 445 lbs); WR Jarrett Drake (vertical jump, 35.5"); LB Jason Palumbo (40-yard, 4.6 sec.); Mike McLeod (dips, 52); and Jimmy Lewis (pullups, 32).

Survey Says...

Yale players were surveyed about each other the day they returned to campus and here are the results: Hardest Working (Jordan Spence followed by Brandt Hollander); Funniest (Steve Bassermann for the 3rd straight year); Smartest (Ed McCarthy, Jimmy Lewis); Most Athletic (Mike McLeod, Ashley Wright); Best Leader other than captain (Ed McCarthy, Kevin Littleton); Strongest (Brandt Hollander by landslide); Toughest (Larry Abare, Brandt Hollander); Best Musician (Mike McGinity); and Most Likely to Become U.S. President (Steve Bassermann, Kevin Littleton).

All Those Interceptions

Defensively, the Bulldogs had a lot to look forward to with two seniors returning who picked off five passes each in 2005. Then both SS Nick Solakian and LB Lee Driftmier, who also combined for 154 tackles, had surgery and are out for the season. Yale has two interceptions in 2006, both by sophomore FS Steve Santoro.

McCarthy Trio

It's not an Irish band but it's the most popular last name on the Yale roster this fall. The McCarthys, Ed the OT and DL brothers Kevin and Tom, are one of the five last names shared by multiple members of the team. There are at least two Yale players each with the following names: Wright, Spence (brothers Jordan and Rylan), Johnson, Coombs (brothers John and Matt) and Abare (identical twins Bobby and Larry).

No 1:00 Kickoffs at the Bowl

The normal starting time for games at Yale Bowl over the last 50 years has been 1 p.m., with recent Ivy League rules mandating no later than 12:30 kicks when daylight savings time begins. 2006 marks the first deviation from Yale's tradition, and it had nothing to do with last year's season finale playing on into dusk. USD asked for an earlier start to accommodate its travel needs, while YES Network and CN8 asked for earlier starts as well. Since the Nov. 11 game has to start before 1 p.m., it made sense for Yale officials to move up the remaining (Lehigh) game for consistency.

Yale Still Leads the Nation

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 collegiate football team to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.

All In The Family

Senior Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, Conn.) was Yale's OL MVP eight times last year and took week No. 1 honors this season. McCarthy, the 2003 Ivy Rookie of the Year as an OG and a second-team all-league center in 2004, was first-team All-Ivy at LT last fall. He is a pre-season All-America pick who has been getting looked at by pro scouts this fall. McCarthy's father, Rick, and uncle, Ed, played for the Bulldogs. He is the only offensive lineman in league history to earn rookie of the year honors.

Catching Bulldogs At Practice

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 and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center. 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.

Home Cooking in the Bowl

Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard before a full house, the Bulldogs have gone 352-186-21 (559 games) in Yale Bowl. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 115-73-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home.

Galiette Luncheon at Yale Golf Course

The weekly Dick Galiette Football Media Luncheon was named last fall to honor the late voice of Yale Football. This Tuesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by CB Casey Gerald and WR/KR Jordan Spence. The Galiette Luncheon interviews can be heard on Don Boyle's sportingnewsct.com.

Yale Bowl Restoration

The restoration of Yale Bowl is nearly complete with a number of additions planned in the near future. The playing surface has been named the Class of '54 Field to honor the majority gift for the project from former Yale football player Charlie Johnson and his class. One of the additions will be 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 exisiting 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, Brian R. '60, Robert D. '67 and Richard L. '71, and a son, Jeffrey S. '93.

Father of American Football

For the eighth 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 and captain Chandler Henley (6 catches) earned the honor against USD. Mike McLeod took week No. 2 honors with three TDs at Cornell and week three also with 172 rushing yards and three more scores. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others.

Leaders Play for Yale

The Yale football team has always produced leaders of all types on and off the field and this year is no exception. The 2006 roster includes 67 players who captained their high school gridiron squads and 45 people who captained other teams. Eight members of this year's team were senior class valedictorians and two were salutatorians.

Radio, Internet, Home Page and Hotline

NEWS/TALK 960 WELI broadcasts Yale football this fall on 960-AM. You can also listen on TEAMLINE by calling 800-846-4700 and entering Yale's code (5682). WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party. WYBC (1340-AM), the Yale student station, also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show that includes an interview with Eli head coach Jack Siedlecki. Sports Coordinator Anthony Brooks and Director of Football Broadcasts Bob Heussler lead a talented student staff. Yale games can be heard live on the internet at www.960WELI.com and www.wybc.com. The latest scores and game information from Yale varsity athletics are available by calling 432-YALE. The Yale Sports Hotline is sponsored by Barnes & Noble at Yale University, which is located on Broadway. Call 1-888-730-YALE for a copy of the store's fall catalog.