October 26, 2008

JV Comeback Falls Short in 37-29 Loss to Navy Prep

Oct. 26, 2008

WEST HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale junior varsity football team mounted a fourth-quarter rally but was unable to complete the comeback after a wild first half, losing to the Naval Academy Prep School 37-29 Sunday afternoon at Clint Frank Field. Freshmen quarterbacks Bryan Farris and Dawson Halliday each threw for more than 100 yards and a touchdown, but Yale was unable to overcome a number of early mistakes.

Yale's ground game was lead by junior Rodney Reynolds and freshman Alex Thomas, who each ran for 68 yards. Freshman tailback Jake McCrary scored on a pair of short runs. Chris Morris lead the Yale receivers with four catches for 96 yards, while Lars Knudsen and McConnell Smith both caught four balls for 57 yards.

The game started with a miscue as the opening kickoff bounced past the Yale return man, pinning the Bulldogs inside their five yard line. After a quick three-and-out, Yale's snap on the punt sailed over the head of senior punter Josh Helmrich, giving the Rams the first two points of the game. Following a return to the Yale 45 on the free kick, the Rams methodically ran the ball down into the Yale end zone in six plays to put the score at 9-0.

Navy Prep scored on a 60-yard quarterback keeper on the very first play after another three-and-out by the Yale offense. A 76-yard kick return by Thomas to the Navy Prep 15 was the first spark for the Bulldogs, but a fumbled snap pushed Yale back and the Elis missed a 39-yard field goal attempt.

Navy Prep then drove to the Yale 20, but a fumble recovery by sophomore linebacker Dan Walsh gave the Bulldogs another chance. Halliday led the first Yale scoring drive, completing four of five passes for 63 yards -- including a 30-yard strike to Knudsen to pull Yale within 16-7.

A long run off an option pitch seemed to give Navy Prep the chance to negate the Yale score, but the last Eli defender -- sophomore defensive back Marcus Wallace -- stripped the ball and freshman linebacker Cliff Foreman recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. Once again the Bulldogs had to march 80 yards, but this time they relied on the running of Reynolds, who carried four times for 54 yards in setting up McCrary's short plunge to move Yale to within two.

The wildness continued on the very next possession, as freshman defensive back Bedford Booth intercepted Navy Prep at the Yale 23. On the first play of the Yale drive, Farris connected with Smith for a 23-yard score, but the score was called back for illegal motion. On the next play, Farris was hit as he threw, and Navy Prep returned the interception 79 yards for a TD. Yale punted on the ensuing drive, but the first Navy Prep play saw an interception by freshman defensive back Geoff Dunham. A play-action pass from Farris to Morris on the first play for a 60-yard touchdown got Yale within 23-21.

The teams traded possessions until the Rams drove from their own five-yard line with less than two minutes to go. With a variety of toss and option plays, Navy Prep marched into the end zone with a six-yard plunge to go ahead 30-21.

The third quarter saw the Rams use a variety of runs in their option attack to punch the ball in from a yard out after a methodical nine-play, 75-yard drive spanning nearly seven minutes. However, after that the first half madness seemed to remain mostly in the halftime locker rooms. Both teams traded punts through the rest of the third quarter and much of the fourth.

Yale got its spark with six minutes left when sophomore receiver Peter Balsam blocked a Navy Prep punt to set the Bulldogs up at the Rams 24. Yale capitalized on the short field with another short touchdown run by McCrary. Halliday, who had 28 yards scrambling on the day, bobbled the shotgun snap on the conversion, but was able to evade two defenders to dive into the end zone.

After stopping the Rams with 1:08 left, the Bulldogs took the field for one last chance from their own six-yard line, but a penalty that wiped out a 37-yard gain ended any chance for Yale to tie up the game.

report by Sunny Xi '10 and Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity

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