Bulldogs Bring Brown to Bowl

Bulldogs Bring Brown to Bowl

Oct. 31, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The No. 14/15 Yale football team (7-0 overall, 4-0 Ivy), coming off a 28-7 win at Columbia and 7-0 for the first time since 1981, hosts Brown (3-4, 2-2) Saturday in a key Ivy League contest at Yale Bowl and the Class of 1954 Field. The 112th meeting of the Bears and Bulldogs can be heard live on WELI (960-AM), WYBC (1340-AM) and on 960weli.com and wybc.com. There will not be a video broadcast of this contest.


So much for home field advantage; the visiting team has won nine of the last 11 meetings heading into the 112th between Yale and Brown. The Bulldogs may be up 75-31-5, but the Bears have won six of the last eight. Of the 111 meetings, only 28 have come at Brown Stadium, where the Blue is 16-9-3. The two rivals met in New Haven 32 consecutive years (1926-57) and Yale has a 58-22-2 advantage at the Bowl.


The Bulldogs dropped one place in the FCS Coaches Poll to No. 14 while falling two spots to No. 15 in the Sports Network Poll. Yale has been ranked as high as No. 13 and as low as 25th in seven different FCS (formerly I-AA) polls this year. Yale remained at No. 4 in the new Lambert (Eastern) Trophy poll.


Yale's starting offensive line, which has paved the way for the No. 3 ranked rushing attack in the FCS, averages 279 pounds. It has a 37-pound advantage over a Bears defensive front that averages 242 pounds. The Bulldog defensive front (247 lbs) faces a 24-pound disadvantage against a Brown offensive line (271 lbs) that has only surrendered eight sacks in 330 passing attempts.


The Bulldogs, playing in a driving rain, lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions during a scoreless first half. A nearly perfect second half that included three TDs by TB Mike McLeod led Yale to a 28-7 win at Columbia. The defense, however, played 60 solid minutes and came within a few minutes of a shutout. Yale scooped up three fumbles of its own and picked off a pair of passes while holding the Lions to 218 total yards.


After taking its first five games in dominating fashion, Yale survived triple OT at Penn and a scoreless first half with five turnovers at Columbia to remain unbeaten in 2007.


Junior TB McLeod, still smarting from a first-half injury at Penn, fumbled twice at Columbia before finishing with 135 yards and three TDs. McLeod now has 1,277 yards and 21 TDs this fall (he set school record last fall with 20 TDs). The Yale record for rushing yards in a season is 1,442 by Rich Diana in 1981 (Ivy record is 1,881 in 9 GP by Ed Marinaro in 1971). McLeod needs 64 yards to break Robert Carr's Yale career rushing yards record (3,393). The New Britain, Conn., runner, who has TDs in 21 of his 27 collegiate games, needs three more this season to tie Marinaro for the Ivy season record (24).


Bulldog senior WR Chris Denny-Brown, who sat out the 2006 season with an injury, earned team offensive back of the week status this week after making five big catches for 75 yards at Columbia. Denny-Brown, who has 14 catches over the last two weeks, enjoyed a career-best and game-high nine (most by an Eli this fall) receptions for 81 yards at Penn. He snared two passes in OT that went for a total of 41 yards and set up two Yale scores while earning the Walter Camp Player of the Game honors.


Senior FS Matt Coombs, who was Yale's DB MVP at Penn after backing up the injured Steven Santoro, was Walter Camp Player of the Game at Columbia with 4-3-7, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He had a career-high six solos and nine overall stops at Penn, including two on the final goal-line stand, as well as his first career interception in the fourth quarter. His brother, John, a reserve DB, made his first career interception at Columbia.


Senior DT Kirk Porter had one of the finest days of his collegiate career at Columbia last week with two sacks. Porter, who had three solos on the day, earned Yale's DL MVP. It was his first team award this fall.


Freshman defensive back Gio Christodoulou (pronounced kristo-DO-lou), who has two long punt returns for TDs in junior varsity games, had Yale's longest KOR of the year with a 38-yard scamper at Columbia. He saw his first varsity action at Penn and made one tackle and downed a Bulldog punt on the Penn one-yard line. He shared Yale Special Teams MVP honors against the Quakers with QB/holder Richie Scudellari.


TB Mike McLeod's three-yard touchdown run with 3:27 remaining gave the Bulldogs a come-from-behind, 27-24 win at Providence. The Elis pulled this one out despite being held to 286 yards of total offense on 65 plays and Yale's lowest gain per play of the year (4.4 yards). Brown's five turnovers, including three interceptions (one returned 19 yards for a TD) by sophomore linebacker Bobby Abare, proved to be the difference. The game-winner by McLeod was set up by a 71-yard completion from QB Matt Polhemus to WR Ashley Wright.


Yale is 7-0 for the first time since the 1981 Ivy championship season when the Blue won eight straight before falling at Princeton. That squad, led by captain Fred Leone and head coach Carm Cozza, had non-league wins over Holy Cross, Navy and Connecticut and beat Brown 28-7 in the season opener.


Jack Siedlecki (Union `74), in his 11th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, is 118-66-2 as a collegiate head coach, 62-44 at Yale. Siedlecki is 3-7 against Brown. Bears' head coach Phil Estes is 57-39 in his 10th year as a head coach at Brown and 6-3 vs. Yale.


"We played 60 great minutes of defense and 30 great minutes of offense. We just did not take care of the football and struggled in the first half, but the defense bailed us out. Early in the game we missed connections, and that hurt us. This is a resilient team, though. In the first drive of the third quarter we overcame a second-and-15 and had a nice drive, putting it in the end zone. We asserted ourselves in the run, and then I thought we dominated the second half."


The Bears, who have the fourth-best passing offense in the FCS, used a swarming defense to chew up Penn in a 31-17 win at Providence last week. Senior QB Michael Dougherty, one of the nation's leading passers, threw for 238 yards and two scores, but the Brown defense blocked two field goals and recovered a fumble while Darrell Harrison scored on a 65-yard interception return. Junior LB Steve Ziogas led the Bears with nine total tackles, including six solo hits.


The Yale-Brown match-up also features the two best placekickers in the Ivy League. The Bears' Steve Morgan, also the starting punter, is the Ivy's career leader with 49 FGs. Bulldog Alan Kimball is seventh in the FCS and No. 1 in the Ivy with 1.57 FGs per game this fall.


Winning isn't everything, but Yale has come out on top in eight straight games dating to the 2006 finale and has been victorious in 14 of its last 15 outings.


There are three high schools shared by Yale and Brown players: Dan Walsh teamed with Brown's John Cook at Fenwick (La Grange, Calif.); Langston Johnson and Tim Danser (Brown) at Bellarmine College Prep (Saratoga, Calif.); John Pedersen teamed with Brown's Nick Houston and Marshall Moore at Langley (McLean, Va.).


Connecticut has sent some of its high school football talent to its northeastern neighbor. The Brown players from the Nutmeg State include John Connelly from Stonington High, Alex Prestley of Hall High (West Hartford), Phil Samenuk of St. Luke's School (Ridgefield) and Jeremy Raducha and Steve Ziogas from Bristol Central.


Ralph Plumb set a Yale record with 258 receiving yards in 2004 at Providence... The Bears and Bulldogs combined for a series-record 99 points in the 2003 game at Yale Bowl, a 55-44 Brown victory that included four TD grabs for Bear WR Lonnie Hill... DB Ben Blake blocked Brown's PAT attempt in the closing seconds of the 1999 game as the visitors attempted to tie the game. However, Bear TB Mike Powell picked up the loose ball and lateraled to FB Rob Scholl, who rambled into the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 25-24 victory... WR Jake Borden hauled in a 27-yard TD pass from Joe Walland with six seconds left as Yale pulled out a 30-28 game at Providence in 1998... Chris Hetherington, a Yale QB who later became an NFL fullback, rushed for 166 yards and passed for 223 in a win over Brown in 1995... In a matchup of defending co-champions, Yale's goal-line stand prevented the Bruins (that's what they used to be called) from converting a first-and-goal from the two-yard line with under a minute to play in a 10-9 Eli victory at the Bowl in 1977... The two teams combined for 37 punts in a 1941 Brown (7-0) win.


Brown assistant head coach and secondary coach Abbott Burrell (former UConn player) is a native of Hamden, Conn., whose father, Sam Burrell, was a Yale football assistant coach under Carm Cozza. Bear offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Frank Sheehan is a graduate of the University of New Haven and coached there for two years.


Senior FB Joe Fuccillo has broken seven (of his own) facemasks and cracked a pair of helmets through six games in 2007. "When a helmet gets cracked, I obviously fit him for a new one. Thank God they have a three-year warranty," said assistant director of equipment services Jeff Torre. "In my 20 years, I have never seen a player go through two helmets, though Pete Mazza `01 and Alex Faherty `05 were among a few who went through seven or eight masks in a season."


Fuccillo is arguably the most punishing blocker on the Yale team and currently leads the team with 62 knockdowns. He got his first carry of 2007 against Dartmouth and scored from a yard out on a play that had been called for Mike McLeod but was changed in the huddle by both QB Matt Polhemus and McLeod. It was Fuccillo's first career touchdown. He snared his first collegiate pass on a key third down against Lehigh a week later.


The Bulldogs put points on the board in all four trips to the red zone against Columbia. The Elis have scored on 34 of 37 attempts this fall when reaching the opponent's 20-yard line.


The Bulldogs have won 11 straight road games dating to the middle of the 2005 campaign, a 38-21 loss to Penn at Franklin Field. The longest road win streak prior to the current one was 37 games that spanned 1887 to 1895.


Yale senior Matt Polhemus, who leads the Blue with a 5.8 average per rush, is now 15-2 as the starting QB. He has completed better than 52 percent of his passes this year and suffered five interceptions. Polhemus, who had a season-high 16 completions and 28 attempts at Penn, has 347 rushing yards this fall. His 92 rushing yards at Columbia were his season-high.


The junior Abare twins (LB Bobby, DE Larry) have been separated on the field by Larry's season-ending knee injury against Cornell, but the name Abare is still heard often on the PA system. Bobby leads the team with 35 solos and 56 overall. He has six career interceptions. Both brothers earned 2006 All-Ivy recognition. Bobby, who is very difficult to block, jumped on a fourth-quarter fumble that set up the game-tying field goal at Penn. Larry, crutches and all, can be seen on the sideline cheering on his teammates at every game.


Senior OG Jeff Monaco, who was a pre-season The Sports Network third-team All-America selection, has been named Yale's OL MVP in six of the seven games. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman from McDonald, Pa., has started 27 straight games at three different spots on the OL.


Senior DT Jared Hamilton, who has been the DL MVP twice this fall and has 17 straight starts, comes from a family of athletes. His father, Larry, won a 1984 national championship with the undefeated Brigham Young football team. Jared's mom (Tami) played volleyball at BYU and his sister (Ashley) plays volleyball at Eastern Washington, while one brother (Justin, 6-foot-10) will play basketball at Iowa State and another (Jordan) is a football/basketball star in high school. Hamilton leads the Blue with seven TFLs and three sacks.


Senior WR Chris Denny-Brown and sophomore HB John Sheffield share the team lead with 21 catches... Junior CB Casey Gerald leads Yale with six pass breakups... Yale's five turnovers at Columbia were the most for a Bulldog squad since a six-interception day against Brown (52-14 loss) at the Bowl in the 1997 debut of head coach Jack Siedlecki... The elapsed time (2:43) at Columbia was 66 minutes less than the previous week at Penn (TV, 3-OT) and last week's game still had "media" timeouts for satellite radio... Yale and Harvard are both 4-0 and tied for first in the Ivy League, two games better than the next record... Senior TE Langston Johnson, who shared the OL MVP award with Jeff Monaco last week, has caught a pass in every game this fall.


Nine Bulldogs have picked off 16 passes in seven games and juniors account for all but five. Juniors LB Jay Pilkerton and DB Steven Santoro, who both missed the Columbia game with injuries, have four. LB Bobby Abare (2) and DE Brady Hart (1) are the other juniors with picks. Seniors DBs Matt Coombs, John Coombs and Nick Solakian and LB Lee Driftmier each have one. Sophomore DB Paul Rice has one. Yale has an interception in 12 straight games. The Blue defense has four games this season with three picks.


Eight of the Bulldogs' 16 interceptions have resulted in points (36). In addition, on two occasions Yale interceptions have stopped opponents on critical drives just before halftime and four of the interceptions occurred within the red zone.


Senior PK Alan Kimball, who earned Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week honors last week, did not attempt a FG for the first time this year at Columbia. Against Penn, he connected on two of three FG attempts and made both PATs. He had one of Yale's scariest moments in the second OT. Trailing 20-17 and needing a 21-yard FG to send the game to a third OT, Kimball had to wait for holder Richie Scudellari to field a bad snap and control the ball before punching it through the uprights. Kimball is seventh in the FCS and leads the Ivy League with 1.57 FG per game. He put his foot on the ball an amazing 19 times on Sept. 22 against Cornell. He split the uprights on all three FG attempts and all six PATs while booting 10 kickoffs. His three FGs (at Columbia, 2005; vs. Lehigh, 2007) equaled a career-high and his 15 points surpassed another. He now has 28 FGs, which is eight behind career leader Mike Murawczyk (36). Kimball is 11-for-13 on FGs and has connected on all 29 PATs this fall. Despite having his field goal streak end at nine with a first-half miss at Penn, he made up for his miss.


The Yale team poll revealed some interesting facts about the Bulldogs. QB Richie Scudellari and LB Bobby Abare are considered the hardest working players. DT Stephen Schmalhofer is the funniest, DE Matt Plummer the smartest and TB Mike McLeod the most athletic. The best leader other than the captain is QB Matt Polhemus, while captain and DT Brandt Hollander was voted the strongest. Bobby Abare has been named the toughest.


DE Joe Hathaway was named the player with the most unique hobbies (Star Wars trivia knowledge, WWE fanaticism)... FB Shebby Swett and LB Jay Pilkerton were voted the guys most players would want their sisters to date... Seventy percent of the team lives on campus... No player owns a bulldog but 91 percent of the team prefers dogs over cats... The favorite New Haven restaurant among the Elis is Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant... Carmen Anthony (Steak House) came in second.


After sitting out the opener with an injury, Yale captain and DT Brandt Hollander has been a terror for opposing offensive lines. He had a sack against Holy Cross and shared one against Lehigh and has been clearing paths for his LBs to get into the offensive backfield by taking up two blockers. Hollander, who had a career-high six solo stops at Penn, was voted by the players as the strongest (bench press of 480, hang clean 368) guy on the team. He is a senior from Indianapolis who earned DL MVP honors vs. Lehigh.


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 football team of any kind to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.


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 (Yale Field) and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center (back of Payne Whitney Gym). 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 or coach.


Eric Johnson '01, starting TE for the 3-4 New Orleans Saints, is second on the team with 28 catches for 194 yards and one score. His best day this year was eight catches for 57 yards against the Colts. Johnson, who has Drew Brees throwing balls to him, led all Saints receivers with five catches for 54 yards in the Atlanta game... Nate Lawrie '04 is listed as the third-string TE for the offensive-minded Cincinnati Bengals (2-5), which has wins over Baltimore and the Jets... Dick Jauron '73 is in his second season as head coach of the Buffalo Bills (3-4), which beat the Jets and Ravens the last two Sundays... Mike McDaniel '05, a former Yale WR, is an offensive assistant with the 3-4 Houston Texans.


Despite suffering both 2006 losses on the Class of '54 Field, the Yale Bowl has been a happy place for Bulldogs. Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard, the Blue has gone 358-187-21 (566 games) at home. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 119-74-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home. Yale's win margin at the Bowl this season is 31.7 compared to 15.5 on the road.


There are five sets of brothers on the 2007 Yale roster: LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare; DBs Matt and John Coombs; DE Eric and OL Louis Gresham; DE Brady and QB Brook Hart; FB Jack and DB Marcus Wallace and student assistant coach Kevin and DL Tom McCarthy. LB Tim Handlon, DB Rylan Spence and student assistant coach Mike Cautero had brothers that used to play football at Yale.


Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team with offensive stars such as Rich Diana (Hamden High) and John Pagliaro (Derby High), and 2007 is no exception. QBs Ryan Fodor (Hand of Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington High) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. In addition, RB Mike McLeod (New Britain High) was the New Haven Register's player of the year. Pagliaro's son, John III, came to Yale this fall from Maryland.


This Tuesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by defensive players Brady Hart (DE) and Lee Driftmier (LB). The Galiette Luncheon interviews can be heard (usually posted by Wednesday) on Don Boyle's sportingnewsct.com. Yale's weekly media luncheon was named after legendary play-by-play announcer Dick Galiette, who called Yale Football for 33 seasons until his death in 2005.


In 1988 Joel E. Smilow '54 generously established a fund to endow the position of head coach of Yale's football team - the first endowed coaching position at Yale. Due to the extraordinary growth of this fund it is now able to support Yale's two associate head football coaches - Keith Clark, Yale's Offensive Coordinator and offensive line coach, and Rick Flanders, the Defensive Coordinator and linebackers mentor. The two positions have been designated as Joel E. Smilow '54 Associate Head Coaches of Football. Smilow, who broadcast Yale football games as Sports Director of WYBC, has also endowed three other head coach positions - men's and women's basketball and women's lacrosse - and has made three major donations to Yale's athletic facilities.


Phase 1 restoration of Yale Bowl and the Class of '54 Field has been completed and a dedication event is scheduled for the Nov. 17 Harvard game. Phase 2, which begins next spring, includes 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 existing 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.


As always, there are numerous activities centered around The Game on Nov. 17. One of the highlights is the handing out of the George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards at the Blue Leadership Ball (Nov. 16). The honorees include Richard P. Cooley `44, Charles B. Johnson `54, Anne F. Keating `77, James McNerney `71 and Kurt L. Schmoke `71. Johnson and Schmoke played football at Yale. This year, Yale also celebrates the completion of phase one of the Yale Bowl, Class of '54 Field restoration with a dedication ceremony. In addition, there are many alumni functions.


NEWS/TALK 960 WELI will broadcast all 10 Yale football games this fall on 960-AM and online at 960WELI.com. Ron Vaccaro '04 returns for his second year as play-by-play announcer. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza, a 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, returns for his 10th season as color commentator. WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party broadcast. Kristafer, who has WELI's weekday morning show, speaks with Vaccaro about the Elis every Friday morning at 8:15.


WYBC (1340-AM) also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show. Bob Heussler, WYBC's Director of Football Radio Broadcasts, and Anthony Brooks, the station's sports coordinator, lead a talented group of Yale student broadcasters who can also be heard on wybc.com. WYBC also broadcasts Yale Sports Monday from 8-8:30pm, a show that wraps up each Yale football game and includes interviews with Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow `54 Head Coach of Football, and the New Haven Register's Sean Barker. The show is hosted by Anthony Brooks, Sam Purdy and Alex Jenson.


Designed to keep Yale Athletics fans and alumni informed and entertained, the voice of the Elis, Ron Vaccaro `04 hosts a series of netcasts available via Apple iTunesU. This series will feature season previews, event coverage (such as Yale's Ivy title clinching defeat of Harvard in The Game last year), and commentary from coaches, players, and analysts, while also taking the fan inside special events such as the Blue Leadership Ball. You can download from iTunesU at yalebulldogs.com (see Yale Athletics Netcasts on right side of front page).


The Blue has seven games on the tube this fall, three of which are at home. The Sept. 15 Georgetown game was a tape-delayed broadcast on Verizon Fios One in the D.C. area. Yale's Sept. 29 game at Holy Cross aired live on Comcast's CN8. The Oct. 6 game against Dartmouth was on NESN as the ECAC Game of the Week. WFMZ-TV and Fox Sports Atlantic aired the Oct. 13 Lehigh game in the Bowl. YES Network has the Penn and Princeton games. The 124th edition of The Game will be carried on HDNet nation wide (available on DirecTV 79, Dish Network 9422 and various cable providers), SportsNet NY (New York), WPHL (Philadelphia), WLVI (Boston) and WTXX (Hartford). Jack Ford `72 will provide color on the broadcast after serving as master of ceremonies at the Blue Leadership Ball.

release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director