October 25, 2005

Bulldogs Need Win at Columbia To Stay in Ivy Race

Oct. 25, 2005

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For the second week in a row the Yale football team (2-4 overall, 2-1 Ivy) takes a trip South on I-95, but this time the buses stop in the Big Apple as the Bulldogs visit Columbia (2-4, 0-3). The Elis are coming off a 38-21 loss at Penn last Saturday, while the Lions did not fare better (17-6) at Dartmouth a week ago. This 12:30 p.m. contest at Wien Stadium can be heard live on radio stations WELI (AM 960) and WYBC (AM 1340) as well as on yalebulldogs.com and 960WELI.com.

Yale Columbia Playing For 82nd Time

Yale holds a commanding lead in the series at 61-18-2. The Elis' .744 winning percentage against the Lions is their highest among all Ivy opponents. The Blue is 34-10-0 on the road 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... Lou Kusserow picked off four Yale passes in 1945 in Columbia's 27-13 win... Roger Dennis had 139 punt return yards in 1965 as the Lions won 21-7... 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 Fall at Franklin Field

Penn ambushed Yale with 28 points and four sacks in the first half en route to a 38-21 win last Saturday. On a cold, rainy day at Franklin Field, the Quakers got three touchdowns from RB Sam Mathews to remain unbeaten in the Ivy League, grabbing a one-game lead in the Ivy title chase over the Bulldogs. Yale scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a pair from QB Jeff Mroz to WR Ashley Wright, but it was not enough. Playing their first home game since the death of their teammate Kyle Ambrogi, the Quakers seized momentum quickly. A six minute span at the end of the first quarter put Penn in command. First, Penn drove 46 yards in 12 plays -- despite losing starting QB Pat McDermott to an injury midway through the drive -- and got a 1-yard touchdown run by Mathews with 3:38 to play in the first. Penn's defense then forced Yale into a three-and-out, the last play of which was a nine-yard loss on a sack. The Quaker offense started off at its own 49 after the Yale punt, and on the second play backup QB Bryan Walker launched one deep to RB Joe Sandberg. Sandberg made the grab, shook off a Yale defender, and dashed into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown just 82 seconds after the first score.

Mroz Moving Up

Senior QB Jeff Mroz (in photo), the 2005 team captain, has 31 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. 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. His 16 TD tosses this season rank fifth on the Yale season list and is one more than he threw as a nine-game starter in 2002. Mroz's 144 completions this fall rank seventh for a Yale season.

Mroz Rankings on Yale Career Lists

31 passing TDs, 3rd... 3,142 yards, 5th... 270 completions, 5th... 467 attempts, 5th (14 career starts)

Columbia Looking for First Ivy Win

Dartmouth's Ikechi Ogbonna scored from 12 yards out with 47 seconds remaining to help the Big Green beat Columbia 17-6 at Memorial Field last week. Trailing 10-6 in the closing minutes of the game, the Lions had two opportunities to make a final run at the end zone. Josh Dooley brought down first-year Lion running back Jordan E. Davis for a two-yard loss on a 4th-and-1 to turn the ball over on downs on the Columbia 47 with just over five minutes to play. Columbia forced a three-and-out and the Lions took over at their own 12 with one last chance with 3:32 left. The offense picked up a first down on a pass interference when Pete Chromiak was hit in the back before the ball got to him. However, two incompletions by Columbia QB Craig Hormann, a sack and a third incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs with 1:10 remaining, setting up Ogbonna's score. Hormann (25-41, 208) had a good showing in his first complete game, while WRs Brandon Bowser and Mike DeFazio led the light Blue with five catches each. However, the Big Green held the Lions to just 45 rushing yards. Lion CB Justin Nunez led the team with six solo stops and a sack.

Spence Taking Advantage of Carries

Junior RB Jordan Spence may not be getting the number of rushing attempts that freshman Mike McLeod has, but the slashing Bulldog back has taken advantage of every opportunity lately. Spence ran seven times for 52 yards at Penn, including a game-best run of 26 yards. The Colleyville, Texas, native, who does not have a 100-yard rushing game at Yale, averaged 7.4 yards per carry against the No. 1 rush defense in the nation last week after getting better than four yards per carry on the sloppy Lehigh field the week before.

Wright Has Another Busy Day

Junior WR/P Ashley Wright had another busy day with four catches, two touchdowns and eight punts. Early in the second half the Mobile, Ala., native was struck in the leg by a Penn helmet and was taken in for X-rays. He was still being examined when the Bulldogs had to punt from their own end zone, so sophomore backup QB Matt Polhemus took the snap and got off his first career punt (17 yards). By the time Yale needed its next punt, Wright was running out of the locker room while shedding his air cast. He went on to boom two punts and then hauled in a 25-yard scoring pass followed by a 57-yard TD catch. Wright, 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 vs. Cornell (9, 31 and 70 yards) on Sept. 24 tied the school record that he now shares with eight others. He leads the team with 36 catches and ranks first in the Ivy League and 14th in I-AA with 6.0 catches per game, while his 88.6 yards per outing are second best in the Ivies and 19th in the nation. Wright, who is seventh in the Ivy League with a 35.4 punting average, had the longest reception (70 yards vs. Cornell) since 2003. Wright had seven catches in all of 2004 and did not attempt a punt.

Double Names on Defense

Two Abares and a pair of Coombs had tackles against Penn, the first time this year the Bulldogs had that happen. Freshman Bobby Abare (Acton, Mass.) had 3 tackles playing linebacker while twin brother Larry had one solo stop on special teams. DB Matt Coombs (Bellevue, Wash.) had one assist and played both on special teams and in the secondary while his brother, John, had three total tackles on special teams.

Handlon Leads Tacklers

Senior safety Matt Handlon (Valparaiso, Ind.) led the Blue with 11 total tackles, though nine of them were assisted stops. LB Drew Palin (Mequon, Wis.), LB Lee Driftmier (Bellevue, Wash.) and MG Brandt Hollander (Indianapolis, Ind.), who has been Yale's defensive line MVP three times this year including last week, each had a team-high four solo tackles.

Looking For Success Away From Bowl

Yale's 0-3 record in road contests this fall is the first since the 1986 Bulldogs fell at Brown, Penn and Cornell.

Bulldog Bites

Yale's first three losses of 2005 had been by a combined total of 13 points while last Saturday's margin of defeat was 17 points... QB Jeff Mroz had his first game without an interception last week but suffered a season-high four sacks... Senior DE Brandon Dyches, who missed the Penn game and could be out with an injury again this week, leads the Ivy League with five sacks... Yale leads the Ivies in third-down conversions.

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.

Yale Looking for Dry Air and Surface

Last week was the third straight that Yale has played on a wet surface and the second Saturday in three weeks that it rained the entire game. The Elis were in mud the first two weeks and last week on a synthetic surface at Penn. Yale will play again on the fake grass at Columbia

Air Points

The Bulldogs have 18 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, while sophomore PK Alan Kimball has the lone field goal. That means 110 of Yale's 125 points this season have come through the air. 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.

Eli Firsts

Junior DE Stan Malyszka, who had two solo tackles, made his first career start at Penn because of an injury to senior Brandon Dyches. Junior Chris Wright, the starting long snapper and a backup DE, got his first action of 2005 at Penn by handling the punt snaps.

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 team-high sixth TD pass of the year at Penn. He is second on the squad with 33 catches and shares the TD lead with fellow wideout Ashley Wright. Feiereisen's 13 catches for 113 yards at Lehigh were both career-highs, while it was the second game this fall that he tallied a pair of scores. 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.

Siedlecki Says After Penn

"They absolutely dominated up front on both sides of the ball. They really took us out of our game in the first half. They physically did the job, and we didn't have any movement up front. They're a blitz team. That's what we talked about during the week. In the fourth quarter we ran the ball a little bit and could throw off of that, but we couldn't do that against their front line guys earlier in the game. We thought we were going to be able to run the ball, and that we had to run the ball to be effective. They dominated us up front."

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 101-62-2 as a collegiate head coach, 45-40 at Yale and 6-2 against Columbia. Bob Shoop (3rd year at Columbia), a 1988 Yale graduate, is 7-17 in his first collegiate head coaching job and 0-2 against his alma mater.

Ground Breaker

Freshman RB Mike McLeod ranks 22nd in I-AA all-purpose yardage with 130.67 per game and 71st with 71.67 rushing yards per outing. He had two 100-yard rushing games over the first three weeks (San Diego, Holy Cross) of the season but has not topped the century mark in three straight weeks. McLeod earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this year after the Dartmouth game. He averages 17.69 on kick returns and has 10 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.

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 (847).

McCarthy Continues to Shine

Junior LT Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, Conn.), the 2003 Ivy Rookie of the Year as an OG and a second-team all-league center last year, is having another great campaign. McCarthy, whose father and uncle played for the Bulldogs, has been named Yale's offensive line MVP in five of the six games. He is the only offensive line in league history to earn rookie of the year honors.

Class Breakdown

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

Media Luncheon

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 been sharing time with junior Jordan Spence. RT Darius Dale (Seattle, Wash.) has now started four 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.

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 work includes 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.

Plans For Kenney Family Field Center Announced

Yale announced on Oct. 24 that Jerome (Jerry) P. Kenney '63, a former Yale football player, has bestowed a gift that will restore the original Yale Bowl Field Center and add additional facilities. Kenney, one of four brothers to compete for the Bulldogs at Yale Bowl, will not only help restore the field center at the base of the press box at the historic stadium, the new Kenney Family Field Center would create additional space above to host special events and other functions. For more details, see the full release on www.yalebulldogs.com.

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.

Walter Camp Yale Players of the Game

For the seventh 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.

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.

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 Ron Vaccaro '04, provide the call of the action. You can also listen on TEAMLINE by calling 800-846-4700 and enter Yale's code (5682). WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party. 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.