October 23, 2006

Bulldogs Seek 6th Straight Win

Oct. 23, 2006

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The Yale football team (5-1, 3-0 Ivy), which has won its last five games, is back in Yale Bowl on the Class of 1954 Field this Saturday to host Columbia (3-3, 0-3) and try to retain its perfect league mark. Kickoff is Noon with a live broadcast on YES Network. 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).

Watching YES

YES Network is available on many cable systems as well as DirecTV channel 623. Former New York Giant TE Howard Cross provides the color while the radio voice of the New York Yankees, John Sterling, handles the play-by-play. Chris Shearn (YES) is on the sideline for YES.

Yale Columbia Playing For 83rd Time

Yale holds a commanding lead in the series at 62-18-2. The Elis' .744 winning percentage against the Lions is their highest among all Ivy opponents. The Blue is 33-9-2 at home against the Light Blue, while Columbia has scored the fewest points against Yale of all Ivy opponents. The Lions have never won by more than 12 points, while the Bulldogs have won 47-0 in 1986 and 93-0 (most ever allowed by Columbia) in 1883.

Memorable Moments in the Yale-Columbia Series

Columbia shutout a Yale team in 1961 (11-0) that was coming off an undefeated campaign. It was the fourth and last shutout of the Bulldogs by the Lions... Marty Domres, a future NFL QB, threw for 326 yards in 1966 for the Lions in a losing (44-21) effort... The Lions did not allow Yale to complete a pass in a 1954 game but still lost 13-7... Ryan LoProto scored on two interceptions, including one from 67 yards, as Yale won in 2000 by 41-0... Yale QB Art Dakos threw five interceptions in a 27-13 loss in 1945... Elis' QB Pete Doherty connected on a school-record five TD passes in a 44-21 win in 1966... Yale and NFL great Dick Jauron scampered 87 yards for the deciding score in a 28-14 win over Columbia in 1972.

Bulldogs Have Leg Up On Penn in OT

Junior PK Alan Kimball brushed off an attempted "icing" by Penn and then booted a 35-yard field goal to win the game in OT, 17-14, last week at Yale Bowl in a game pitting league unbeatens. Kimball's kick ended a five-game Penn win streak over the Elis and a featured performance of star runners. The Quakers' Joe Sandberg (30-125) and Yale's Mike McLeod (29-122) stole the show with their tough and athletic runs. WR Chandler Henley (3-58) gave Yale an early lead with a nine-yard reception almost three minutes in. Penn answered with two TDs over the next 14 minutes before McLeod burst into the end zone from four yards before intermission to even the score at 14-14. Neither team scored in the second half, though both had plenty of good chances, including Penn's last drive in the closing moments of regulation. Derek Zoch's 37-yard FG attempt in the first possession of OT hit the right upright squarely and bounced to the ground. The Bulldogs ran three plays before the winning kick.

Siedlecki on The Penn Game

"Our 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game was huge. After their touchdown, we came right back. We had the momentum back and were feeling good about ourselves at halftime. We're 3-0, and this is a huge win against a team that's a perennial power. This team is playing together and believing in each other. The energy of this team has got everybody excited. This is a great win, but we have four more football games to play."

Lions Know It Isn't Easy Beating Green

QB Mike Fritz totaled 253 yards on offense and Hudson Smythe scored two touchdowns last Saturday as Dartmouth ended a nine-game losing streak with a 20-7 victory over Columbia. Dartmouth took a 10-0 lead in the opening quarter on a 1-yard run by Smythe, which was set up by Dan Cook's fumble recovery at the Lions' 25, and a 31-yard field goal by Andrew Kempler. Smythe's 4-yard run in the second quarter gave the Big Green a 17-0 halftime lead. Columbia nearly scored on the final play of the first half when Austin Knowlin caught a pass from Craig Hormann but was hauled down by Ian Wilson at the Dartmouth 1. The Lions cut the lead to 17-7 early in the fourth quarter when M.A. Olawale scored on a 1-yard run following an interception by Andy Shalbrack that was returned to the Big Green 19. Kempler added a 26-yard field goal with 2:15 remaining for the final Dartmouth score. Fritz gained 120 yards rushing in 14 carries and completed 14 of 21 passes for 133 yards. Smythe gained 48 yards in 20 rushes for the Big Green. Hormann finished 15-for-25 for 148 yards for the Lions.

The Coaches

Jack Siedlecki (Union '74), in his 10th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, won his 52nd game with the Bulldogs last week. He is 108-65-2 as a collegiate head coach, 52-43 at Yale and 7-2 vs. Columbia. Siedlecki has coached in four of the oldest rivalries in college football (Lehigh-Lafayette, Yale-Princeton, Yale-Harvard and Amherst-Williams). Norries Wilson, the former UConn offensive coordinator and University of Minnesota player, is 3-3 as the first-year head coach of Columbia.

Last Year at Baker Field

Backup Yale QB Matt Polhemus (1-1, 13 yds and a 26-yard run) saw his only 2005 varsity action after Jeff Mroz (22-33, 329, 2 TDs) helped the Bulldogs put the game away with 31 second-quarter points in a 37-3 win. Mike McLeod (17-69) rushed for two scores and Ashley Wright caught two TD passes.

McCarthy Finalist for Draddy Trophy

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced last week that senior RT Ed McCarthy has been named one of the 148 semifinalists for the 2006 Draddy Trophy, the academic Heisman of college football, and a candidates for the NFF 2006 National Scholar-Athlete Awards. McCarthy (Fairfield, Conn.) was Yale's OL MVP eight times last year and has already taken the honors five times in six games this fall. 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.

McLeod Ranked 4th Among I-AA Backs

Sophomore TB Mike McLeod (New Britain, Conn.), who has 11 TDs (one receiving) in the last five games, is coming off a fifth straight 100-yard game (29-122 vs. Penn). On Oct. 14 he ran for a career-high 204 yards (4th best at Yale) on a career-best 40 carries (2nd at Yale) in the 26-20 win over Lehigh. McLeod, who also had three catches for 51 yards and 255 yards of total offense, scored on a pair of one-yard runs, including the game-winner in OT. His Lehigh game rushing total was the most by a Yale runner since Robert Carr '05 broke the school record with 235 at Cornell in 2002. He earned Ivy Offensive Player of the Week honors after wins over Lafayette and Dartmouth and was Walter Camp Yale Player of the Game in the Cornell, Lafayette and Lehigh games. His first career TD catch was a 41-yarder off a screen pass at Cornell. McLeod, who had three TDs in consecutive weeks (Cornell, Lafayette), is the first Bulldog to score three in consecutive games since John Pagliaro, who had three against Columbia and Penn in 1976. McLeod, who leads the Ivies and is fourth in I-AA with 143.8 per game, is fifth in scoring in I-AA with 11.0. He now has seven career games with more than 100 yards rushing and has 11 of Yale's 18 TDs this fall.

Last 5 For McLeod

During the five-game win streak, Mike McLeod has rushed for 800 yards and 10 TDs while producing 26 (23 rush, 3 pass) plays of 10 or more yards. Only Rich Diana '82 had more (860) yards (9 TDs) during a five-game streak in his Yale career than McLeod. McLeod, Diana, Dick Jauron (1970) and Paul Andrie (1982) are the only Bulldogs to have five straight games over 100 yards.

Numbers To Watch For

Mike McLeod is a good game away from some impressive numbers for being seven games into the season. He is six rushing TDs shy of John Pagliaro's record of 16, 161 yards from making the top 10 for a season at Yale and 34 attempts short of making the school's top 10 for a season. McLeod already has more TDs (11) than the 2005 Yale leader Ashley Wright (10).

Polhemus Progression

Junior QB Matt Polhemus, who enjoyed a career-high 18 completions to seven different Elis against Lehigh for a career-best 236 yards, improved every week since his first collegiate start against San Diego. He ranks sixth among Ivy QBs in pass efficiency (163.0) this fall, has thrown four TD passes and rushed for two scores. His 247 rushing yards are the most for a Bulldog QB since Alvin Cowan ran for 435 in 2003.

Captain Clutch

Yale captain Chandler Henley has been the go-to-guy in key situations. Twenty five of his 30 catches this fall have resulted in either a first down or a TD. Henley has caught 13 passes on third down and 12 have moved the chains. His nine-yard TD catch vs. Penn was his first score in 2006. Henley now has 10 career TD catches.

The Scoop on Ashley

Senior WR Ashley Wright, who has a catch in 20 straight games dating to the end of the 2004 campaign, is second on the team with 16 catches for 277 yards. He has TDs of 63 and 43 yards this fall and ranks sixth all-time at Yale with 13 receiving scores.

Santoro Finding the Ball

Sophomore FS Steve Santoro, whose first touch as a KOR man went 94 yards for Yale's first TD of the year against San Diego in the opener, became a defensive starter in week two and has made a huge impact. Santoro, fourth on the team with 27 tackles, has had a hand (or a helmet) in six turnovers. He has three interceptions (Cornell, Lafayette, Penn) and ranks 18th in I-AA in that category while he has also forced three fumbles. Santoro returned a kick 91 yards against Dartmouth that was called back for a holding penalty.

Leading the League

The Bulldogs lead the Ivies in rushing (198.7), third-down conversions (47.4%) and kickoff coverage (39.5). Sophomore FS/KR Steve Santoro is tops with a 24.9 KOR average, while TB Mike McLeod (143.8 rushing) and DE Brendan Sponheimer and DT Jared Hamilton (2 FR) are also leaders.

5-1 and 3-0

Yale's current overall and Ivy records are rare ones in New Haven in recent times. The last time a Bulldog football team won five of its first six games was 1999, the year the Elis lost the season opener to Brown and then reeled off nine straight victories to tie the Bears for the Ivy title. The last Yale squad to go 3-0 in league play was Carm Cozza's 1989 team that finished 8-2 (6-1) and tied Princeton for the championship. The losses were to Connecticut and Harvard. Both of those Bulldog teams - not to mention the 2006 version --had QBs (Darin Kehler, Joe Walland) who could get big yardage when flushed out of the pocket.

Shaking The Quakers

To put Yale TB Mike McLeod's output (29-122) against Penn into perspective, you'd have to know how tough it's been to run against the Quakers. Over the last 15 years, only one other Yale player, Robert Carr '05 (167 in 2004), has run for triple digits against Penn. Before that it was QB Nick Crawford (204) in 1991, whose effort stands as the school record for QB rushing yards.

Penn Stats

The Yale defense was the primary reason Penn's five-game win streak in the series came to an end last Saturday. It was good timing considering Yale's offense had its worst outing since the 2006 opener. The Quakers had the ball for 11 more plays and nearly five more minutes while outgaining the Blue 350 to 277 in total offense. Yale's defense continued its trend of bending just enough without breaking. Interceptions by FS Steve Santoro and DE Brendan Sponheimer also helped.

Extra Time at The Bowl

The Bulldogs have been playing a lot of extra football at Yale Bowl recently. Three of the last four games on the Class of 1954 Field have gone into overtime with Yale winning the last two. The last game of 2005 was a triple OT contest, the longest in Ivy history, and a loss to Harvard. Yale beat Lehigh 26-20 on Oct. 14 and then edged Penn 17-14 on Oct. 21.

Yale in OT

Yale is 3-3 overall (2-1 at home) in OT sessions after winning the last two over the last 14 days. A field goal was the difference in two of the three, including one (Princeton '03) that ended when Yale forced a fumble.

Largest Crowd

The 21,709 on hand last Saturday was the largest non-Harvard attendance since last November's Brown game (21,719). Yale Bowl, which held 64,269 before restoration, now has a capacity of 63,500.

Craig Has His Moments

Senior FB Taylor Craig, who may be the best blocking back in the Ivies, does not get the touches like TB Mike McLeod, but he does take advantage of his opportunities. In the win over Penn, Craig had two carries for four yards, including a first down, while he pulled in a pair of passes for 10 yards and notched another first down.

Kimball Doesn't Ice

Lehigh tried it twice and it may have worked. Penn did it once and it did not help. Both opponents the last two weeks tried to ice Yale PK Alan Kimball before he attempted game-winning kicks. Against Lehigh on the last play of regulation, Kimball's attempt sailed wide left but the Bulldogs still pulled it out in OT. Kimball, on the Elis' first possession in OT against Penn, waited out one timeout by the visitors and then split the uprights easily from 35 yards out. He never saw the ball sail through the goal posts because a teammate knocked him down in an early celebration. His walk-off kick was the first for a Bulldog since Randy Carter '77 beat Dartmouth (16-14) with a 47-yarder at the Bowl in 1975.

Fourth Downs

Yale, which had been leading the Ivy League in fourth downs (now 3rd, 62.5), had been perfect on the last down four straight times since failing once in the opener against San Diego. That included two big conversions in the OT win over Lehigh on Oct. 14. The mini streak came to an end with two failed tries against the Quakers last week. The Elis also had their worst day on third down conversions last week with four on 11 tries.

Mante Moving Up

Freshman punter Tom Mante struggled early to find consistency but is showing his true form recently. He boomed a career-long 58-yarder against Penn and landed an eight iron shot that was downed on the Quaker seven. Mante has now placed seven punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He has a 34.2 average this season after recording a 44.0-yard mark at Bishop Guertin High in Massachusetts.

Bulldog Bites

Yale received 21 votes in this week's College Sporting News Coaches Poll, but did not crack the top 25. Princeton was 15th and Harvard 22nd... Yale got 76 votes in The Sports Network Poll... Last week Yale was ranked 24th among I-AA schools in the Gridiron Power Index... The 14 points Yale held Penn to last week were the fewest in the series allowed by the Bulldogs since the Quakers' 14-6 win in 1994, but the fewest in a Yale win since 1991 (31-12)... DE Brendan Sponheimer, who grew up a few miles down the road in Orange, made his first collegiate interception against Penn... Junior DB Andrew Liyana and junior TE Jordan Stevens have their own company, Adonis Financial Incorporated, with $55,000 in assets and 15 clients.

Abare, The Pair

Identical sophomore twin Yale defensive players LB Bobby (34-18-52) and DB Larry Abare (23-18-41) had another big day for the Blue with a combined 12-4-16 last week. One of the Abares has led the Eli defense in tackles in each of the last five games. Other sets of twins that played Yale football are: Chris and Andy Kagan (1999-2000); Rob and Chris Michalik (1988-90); Jim and John Quinn (1984-96) and Bob and Dick Jacunski (1960). There are 35 sets of brothers who have played at Yale and here are the last names: Abare, Athanasia, Balme, Bliss, Burkus, Cautero, Conway, Coombs, Flaster, Freccero, Gallagher, Hallas, Handlon, Hinkey, Hoopes, Iwan, Jacunski, Kagan, Kiernan, Kenney, Littleton, Lovejoy, McCarthy (2), Michalik, Miller, Noetzel, Perkowski, Quinn, Ryan, Schulte, Sigal, Spence, Walker, Wimer.

Around the Ivies

Brendan Circle, who dropped one in the end zone earlier in the game, came back to make a 20-yard touchdown catch with 4:37 remaining to give Princeton a 31-28 victory over Harvard. Ivy Offensive Player of the Week Jeff Terrell, the Princeton QB who was knocked out in the first half before returning later in the game, completed 17 of 33 for 223 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. QB Joe DiGiacomo threw two touchdown passes and ran for one to lift Brown to a 28-7 win over Cornell.

Looking Ahead

The Bulldogs are on YES Network for a second straight week with a Noon kickoff at Brown Stadium against the Bears.

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.

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.

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 354-186-21 (561 games) in Yale Bowl. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 116-73-3 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 MG Brandt Hollander and PK Alan Kimball. 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 (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.

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 earned the honor against USD (six catches) and Dartmouth (eight). Mike McLeod took week No. 2 honors (three TDs at Cornell), week three (172 rushing yards and three more scores) and week five (204 yards, two TDs). PK Alan Kimball was the WCYPG after his game-winning FG against Penn in week six. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others.

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.

report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director