Only Two Ivy Unbeatens Meet at Franklin Field

Oct. 18, 2005

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The Yale football team (2-3 overall, 2-0 Ivy) takes a trip South on I-95 this weekend to play Penn (4-1, 2-0) in a game that pits the only two unbeaten teams in the Ancient Eight this fall. The Bulldogs are coming off a 28-21 OT loss at No. 21 Lehigh last week that completed their 2005 non-league slate. Penn, playing on the road against Columbia just days after the death of Quaker player Kyle Ambrogi, cruised past the Lions 44-16. This 3:30 p.m. contest at famous Franklin Field can be heard live on radio stations WELI (AM 960) and WYBC (AM 1340) as well as on yalebulldogs.com and 960WELI.com. It can also be viewed on Comcast's CN8 Sports.

The Yale-Penn Series

Yale leads the series against the Quakers 42-29-1, though Penn has dominated in recent years, winning all but two of the last 13 meetings. The Bulldogs are 21-16 at Philadelphia. There has not been a shutout in the last 21 meetings (the last belongs to Penn, 17-0, in 1983). The Blue has won every contest when scoring over 21 points except for a 48-30 Penn victory in 1972 and 2003's 34-31 OT decision.

Memorable Moments in the Yale-Penn Series

2003: Playing its first modern OT game, Yale fell to Penn at Franklin Field (34-31) after erasing a 31-10 deficit. The Blue tied the game with 32 seconds left but had a FG attempt blocked in the extra session... 1991: Nick Crawford '92 rushed for a Yale QB record 204 yards in a 31-12 Bulldog win at New Haven... 1987: WR Bob Shoop '88, currently the head football coach at Columbia, capped off a miraculous comeback at Yale Bowl with a last-second TD reception in a 28-22 Yale victory... 1969: TV star Jack Ford '72 intercepted a Penn pass and went 77 yards for a score in a 21-3 Yale win... 1958: Herb Hallas '59 set a school record with a 94-yard punt return, but it was the only points in a 30-6 Quaker win.

Lehigh Erases 15-Point Deficit To Win OT Game

No. 21 Lehigh erased a 21-6 third-quarter deficit by scoring the last 22 points, including seven in overtime, as the Mountain Hawks beat Yale 28-21 at Goodman Stadium on Oct. 15. The Bulldogs trailed 6-0 for most of the first half but scored 14 points over the last 2:26 of the second quarter to take the intermission lead. Senior WR Todd Feiereisen (13-113), who had a career-best day, scored the first of his two TDs with a five-yard catch to even the score. Then junior DB Nick Solakian picked off a pass to set up junior WR Ashley Wright's (8-74) five-yard scoring reception. The loss spoiled a productive day by Yale QB Jeff Mroz (34-for-52, 309 yards, 3 TD) who had a career-high for completions and marched the Elis 91 yards for their first score. The Bulldogs won the coin toss in OT and had Lehigh take the ball. The Mountain Hawks, who lost their starting QB to injury late in the fourth quarter, got a six-yard TD run by Eric Rath. Yale moved the ball to the Lehigh five and tried a Mike McLeod run before the next three pass attempts fell incomplete. Neither team rushed for more than 100 yards on the muddy field though they combined for 822 yards of total offense. Junior LB Lee Driftmier led the Bulldogs with a career-high 11 solo tackles and 13 overall. Senior DBs Andrew Butler (8 solos) and Mike Holben (6 solos) also had big days. You can see a broadcast of this game this Tuesday at 3 p.m. on Fox Sports Atlantic, which is available on sports packages on satellite providers such as DirecTV.

Penn Hosts First Game Since Tragedy Struck

The Quakers, playing their first game at Franklin Field since the death of player Kyle Ambrogi, are off to another fine start. If not for a big comeback by Villanova a few weeks ago, Penn would be unbeaten and virtually unchallenged. Penn is ranked No. 1 in I-AA in defending the rush (49 yards per game), while leading the Ivies in numerous stats on both sides of the ball. Individually, QB Pat McDermott leads the league in efficiency (141.35) and PK Derek Zoch is third in the nation witth 1.80 field goals per game.

Non-League More Impressive Than Expected

Yale went winless in non-Ivy games for the first time since 1988 when the Blue lost to Connecticut, Army and Navy by a combined 90 points. This year's games were much closer; the Elis and the three non Ivies were separated by a total of 13 points. The Bulldogs knew that Lehigh was a perennial power but the two other non-league games looked like they were more winnable. Lehigh, Holy Cross and San Diego turned out to be three good teams this fall, just look at the current records. Those three squads are a combined 15-5 overall and 4-1 in league play.

First Non-League OT Game

Prior to last week, the only other Yale games to go into overtime were games at Penn (34-31 loss) and at Princeton (27-24 win) in 2003. The Lehigh game was Yale's first OT game out of the Ivy League. The Bulldogs, 1-2 in extra-session contests, have yet to see OT at Yale Bowl.

Surface Re-Surfacing

Penn's Franklin Field has a Sprinturf surface which is a synthetic grass with tiny black rubber granules between the blades. It's a much softer feel than traditional artificial surfaces, and it's just what the Bulldogs needed after two straight weeks on real grass and real mud. This will be Yale's first game ever on this type of synthetic field, one that resembles FieldTurf, and the first game of 2005 on synthetic grass. Columbia put FieldTurf in this year, so the Elis will play two straight weeks on the same type of field and then finish with three straight on the real stuff.

Defense Making Big Plays

Holding the nationally ranked Mountain Hawks to just 21 points in regulation at home was quite an accomplishment considering they were averaging 34 points a game and had rolled up 49 on a good Harvard defense at Cambridge. Other than the week before when Lehigh played in ankle-deep water, Yale held them to their lowest point output of the year. Last week's output could have easily been seven points less had the officials seen a dropped Lehigh pass on the first series that resulted in a first down on the way to a score. Junior FS Nick Solakian picked off his third pass of the year, while sophomore MG Brandt Hollander, who blocked a PAT, registered the game's only sack. The Elis have interceptions in the last two games and have five overall in 2005 after picking off eight in all of last fall.

Air Provides More Points

The Bulldogs have 15 touchdowns in 2005 but all but two have come through the air on QB Jeff Mroz tosses. Freshman RB Mike McLeod has the two rushing scores this fall. Yale had seven rushing TDs in 2004, all by Robert Carr, compared to 16 passing TDs by Alvin Cowan. Six different Elis hauled in scoring passes this season compared to five in 2004.

First Action

Junior DE Stan Malyszka and sophomore DB John Shumate (special teams), a former Yale hoopster, saw their first action of 2005 after recovering from injuries. Junior DE/snapper Chris Wright dressed for his first game last week.

Bulldog Bites

Jordan Spence averaged 4.6 carries on eight rushes at Lehigh... The Blue has not allowed a sack in two straight games... The Bulldogs have not attempted a field goal in three straight games, though PK Alan Kimball hit all three PATs last week... The Elis, who have had leads in four of the five games, have outscored opponents 42-10 in second quarters this fall... Dan Sica, the third-string snapper, had both the punt and placekicking snap duties for the third straight week... The Yale football program was ranked seventh on Street & Smith's list of "50 Greatest Football Programs of All-Time.

Mroz Moving Up

Senior QB Jeff Mroz, the 2005 team captain, has 28 career TD passes including a school-record five against Cornell on Sept. 24. His 34 completions at Lehigh were a career-high as was his 56 attempts at Lehigh and the 333 yards against Holy Cross. Mroz's yardage total in that game ranks seventh at Yale, the 34 completions were fourth-best and his attempt total was the third most by a Bulldog (Joe Walland and Alvin Cowan had more). The Greensburg, Pa., native earned his first (co) Ivy Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 26 when he tied the school record for TD passes (Pete Doherty, vs. Columbia , Oct. 15, 1966) against Cornell.

Mroz Rankings on Yale Career Lists

28 passing TDs, 6th... 2,955 yards, 5th... 254 completions, 5th... 441 attempts, 5th (13 career starts)

Faherty Hauls in Four Again

Senior TE Alex Faherty (New York, NY), who is currently using his fifth and final season of eligibility (medical hardship), missed all but a few snaps of the first three games this fall with a leg injury. Despite poor field conditions the last two weeks the versatile playmaker returned with a bang. He had a career-high four catches both weeks that included some acrobatics. His leaping, 20-yard scoring reception in the first quarter on Oct. 8 turned out to be the game-winner. Faherty, who started at fullback two years ago and then at TE last fall, also had a career-high with 72 yards against Dartmouth.

There is Fire in His Eyes

Senior WR Todd Feiereisen (Westlake Village, CA), who played QB for the first three years of his collegiate career, snared his fourth and fifth TD passes of the year at Lehigh. His 13 catches for 113 yards were both career-highs, while it was the second game this fall that he tallied a pair of scores. He is second on the team with 29 catches while his five TDs are a team-high. The former signal-caller currently ranks second in the Ivies in receptions per game and is fifth in the league in yards per outing. Feiereisen, Alvin Cowan's backup behind center in 2004, did not have a varsity snap until this year.

Wright One

Junior WR Ashley Wright (Mobile, Ala.), who had a career-high seven grabs for 198 yards and three TDs against Cornell, topped his catch mark with 11 against Holy Cross. The three scores (9, 31 and 70 yards) on Sept. 24 tied the school record that he now shares with eight others. He leads the team with 32 catches and ranks first in the Ivy League and 11th in I-AA with 6.4 catches per game, while his 88.4 yards per outing are second best in the Ivies and 19th in the nation. Wright, who is fifth in the Ivy League with a 35.8 punting average, had the longest reception (70 yards vs. Cornell) since Alvin Cowan threw to P.J. Collins for 73 in 2003. Wright had seven catches in all of 2004 and did not attempt a punt.

Siedlecki Says After Lehigh

"We got the big plays in the first half, and the first drive of the third quarter, and we didn't have another one the rest of the game. We weren't able to run the ball at all, so that eventually allowed them to really come after us. We had to throw it virtually every play. We just didn't move anybody. They kept running it and throwing it, and we didn't. I think that's the difference in the game. We made enough plays in the first half and that first drive, but after that they made all the plays at the end of the game. That's the bottom line. The first half, after the first drive, we played as well-played a team game as you're going to play. We had a 91-yard drive for a touchdown where we made about four big plays. The field conditions were horrible, but they ran it well enough. They did enough. Nobody had a huge day running with the ball, but they ran it well enough to keep it balanced. We ran it well enough in the first half to keep it balanced. In the second half we didn't. This [Yale] team is still a work in progress. As I said to them, we need to play 60 minutes next week the way we played the first 40. For both teams, obviously it was really difficult to rush the quarterback with the field conditions. We're up 14, then we have a great drive to start the third quarter. Everything worked well for us until then. When we hit the adversity, we didn't make any more plays."

The Coaches

Jack Siedlecki, in his ninth season at Yale, earned his 101st win as a collegiate head coach against Dartmouth on Oct. 8. He is 101-61-2 as a collegiate head coach, 45-39 at Yale and 2-6 against Penn. Al Bagnoli (14th year at Penn) is 98-35 with the Quakers, 189-49 overall in his 24th collegiate season and is 11-2 vs. Yale.

McLeod Ranked 4th in Ivy

Freshman RB Mike McLeod rushed for over 100 yards in the San Diego and Holy Cross games, both played on dry surfaces. The last two weeks, on very muddy fields, he was held to a combined 113 yards against Dartmouth and Lehigh. Of course, those were very good defenses and McLeod did earn Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this year after the Big Green outing. Sharing time with junior Jordan Spence (34.0 ypg), McLeod leads the Elis with 78.2 yards per game (4th in Ivy) and a 3.7 average per rush. In addition, he averages 17.0 on kick returns and has eight receptions this year. The New Britain, Conn., native has broken new ground for rookie runners at Yale. He became the first Yale freshman runner to go over 100 rushing yards in his debut when he went for 102 at San Diego on Sept. 17 and earned league rookie honors. The Elis have not enjoyed this type of offensive weapon from the Nutmeg State since Rich Diana (Hamden) was the 1981 Ivy League MVP.

Common Names

Six sets of players share a last name and help confuse all who are trying to cover the Elis this fall. There are four sets of brothers and two other sets of players with the same name on the roster. The brothers are Bobby (LB) and Larry (DB) Abare, Matt (RB) and Mike (OL) Cautero, John and Matt Coombs (both DBs) and Jordan (RB) and Rylan (DB) Spence. The Abares, who did not lose a high school game (Acton-Boxboro streak ended at 52 on 9/23/05), are the only twins among the brothers. Ed (OL) and Kevin (DL) McCarthy and Ashley (WR) and Chris (DE) Wright are not related.

The 300 Club

Five Bulldogs, all offensive linemen, weigh at least 300 pounds. Junior Steve Bassermann (305), freshmen Darius Dale (300) and Davis Hammell (320), junior Ed McCarthy (302) and sophomore Tom Woznicki (300) all qualify for the 300 Club. Hammell is the heaviest player in the history of Yale football. Art Kalman '89, a three-year starting OL at 300 pounds for Carm Cozza, is believed to be the first Bulldog to tip the scale at the three century mark.

Yale Still Leads the Nation

Yale has not won a national football title since 1909, but the Bulldogs still have more championships (12) 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 (now 828) but have since been overtaken by Michigan (846).

The Rankings Are in

The latest ESPN/USA TodayI-AA Poll includes Yale opponents Lehigh (21st), Penn (42 votes), Holy Cross (24), Princeton (12), and Brown (13).

Elis on the Tube

Yale has five live TV games this fall and they all come over the last six Saturdays. Lehigh (SE2), Penn (CN8), Brown (YES), Princeton (CN8) and Harvard (WLVI) are all on the tube this fall.

Class Breakdown

The 2005 Yale roster includes 23 seniors, 29 juniors, 28 sophomores and 36 newcomers.

Weekly Media Lunch

Every Tuesday at noon at the Golf Course at Yale Coach Siedlecki and Yale players are available for questions at the football media luncheon, which is held in the Garden Room overlooking the third and fourth holes. The opposing head coach is also available via speakerphone.

Catching Bulldogs At Practice

There is no practice on Mondays, and normal practice time from Tuesday through Friday is 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 practice around the Smilow Center or out on the fields or after practice. It is best to email Steve Conn to arrange a meeting at least a day before you would like to speak with a player.

Frosh Impact

Five members of the class of 2009 appear on the two-deep chart, including two on defense and three on offense. TB Mike McLeod (New Britain, Conn.) has become the featured back despite sharing time with junior Jordan Spence. RT Darius Dale (Seattle, Wash.) has now started three straight games since an injury to Brice Wilkinson. MG Joe Hathaway (Clifton, N.J.) had a start at Lehigh, while LB Bobby Abare (Acton, Mass.) and PK Brady Hart (State College, Pa.) are currently backups.

91st Season in Yale Bowl

Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard before a full house, the Bulldogs have gone 352-184-21 (557 games) in Yale Bowl. In recent times the Blue has had five home and five away games each fall, but the average for the 90 seasons is 6.2 home contests per year. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 115-72-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home. Many famous people have played against Yale at the Bowl, including Heisman Trophy winners Dick Kazmaier (Princeton), Glen Davis (Army), Tom Harmon (Michigan) and Doug Flutie (Boston College).

Yale Bowl Renovations

The restoration of Yale Bowl, a project which was approved by the Yale Corporation, is well under way. Substantial completion is projected by the fall of 2006. The initial phase of the project, the installation of an iron picket fence with brick columns along Yale Avenue and Chapel Street, has already been completed. Work will continue with the rebuilding of the interior and exterior walls, the repair or replacement of 17 miles of wood seats and upgrading of all drainage and utilities. The 30 tunnels including the entrances and wing walls at the exits will also be totally refurbished. Each portal at the Bowl will be named to honor a class, team or individual. Gifts have already been made to name more than 20 of the 30 portals, while the playing surface has been named the Class of '54 Field to honor the majority gift in the Yale Bowl project.

Bulldogs on Sundays

The last time Yale had two graduates on the same NFL team OT Bill Schuler '47 and end Paul Walker '46 both played 12 games for the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium. Fifty-eight years later there are two Bulldogs playing for the San Francisco 49ers, though one is out with an injury. 49er TE Eric Johnson '01 will miss the entire 2005 NFL season with a foot injury that kept him out of the pre-season. Johnson, who played WR at Yale, has had two excellent NFL seasons. Chris Hetherington '96 was released by Oakland and picked up by the 49ers just before opening day and is a FB and special teams player wearing No. 41... Nate Lawrie '04 is in his second season at a Tampa Bay TE... Dick Jauron '73, an Ivy League star runner and former NFL special teams All-Pro, was the head coach of Chicago for five seasons. He is now in his second season as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.

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 2005 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.

The Players Have Voted

A survey was conducted for the players on the day they returned to New Haven. Here is what we found out. For the second straight year, junior OL Steve Bassermann was voted funniest player on the team. Other Bulldogs singled out were junior RB Jordan Spence (most intelligent), injured sophomore DB Kevin Littleton (best volunteer and most likely to become president of the U.S.), senior QB Jeff Mroz (hardest worker), injured senior WR Chandler Henley (best athlete), senior TE Alex Faherty (best leader other than captain) and senior DE Brandon Dyches (most unusual hobbies).

Radio, Internet, Home Page and Hotline

NEWS/TALK 960 WELI broadcasts Yale football this fall on 960-AM. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza and Dick Galiette, in his 33rd season as the voice of the Elis, provide the call of the action. Ron Vaccaro '04 provides the perspective from the sideline. If you are not within listening range of WELI, you can call 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, then Galiette and Cozza take over for the pre-game show, which features interviews with head coach Jack Siedlecki and a Yale player. Engineer Tom Ivanovich adds the finishing touches on the broadcasts.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. Yale games can be heard live on the internet at www.960WELI.com and www.yalebulldogs.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.