Nov. 1, 2005
Yale might not be following true Wizard of Oz order (Lions, Tigers and Bears Oh My), but the road to an Ivy title includes all three of those Ivy rivals, not to mention the Crimson. After doing its job and getting help from this week's opponent, the Yale football team finds itself in a four-way tie for first place in the Ivy League after last Saturday's 37-3 win at Columbia. With Brown defeating previously unbeaten Penn, the Elis (3-4, 3-1) are among four teams sharing the Ancient Eight lead heading into the last three weeks. The Bulldogs are home for the first time in a month to face Brown (6-1, 3-1), one of the teams sharing the lead. Saturday's contest can be heard live on WELI (AM 960), WYBC (AM 1340) and 960WELI.com, while it can be seen live on the YES Network
Yale-Brown Turning Into Great Rivarly
The Bulldogs may have won better than 71 percent (74-30-5) of the meetings with Brown heading into the 110th contest, but the Bears have won five of the last six. Yale has blanked Brown 37 times, which is the most for any Bulldog opponent, though the last was in 1996. Of the 109 meetings, only 27 have come at Brown Stadium, where the Blue is 15-9-3. The two rivals met in New Haven 32 consecutive years (1926-57) and Yale has a 58-21-2 advantage at Yale Bowl.
Memorable Moments in the Yale-Brown Series
The Bears and Bulldogs combined for a series-record 99 points in the 2003 game at Yale Bowl, a 55-44 Brown victory... 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.
Jack Siedlecki, in his ninth season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, earned his 100th win as a collegiate head coach against Cornell on Sept. 24. He is 102-62-2 as a collegiate head coach, 46-40 at Yale and 2-6 against Brown. Brown head coach Phil Estes is 5-2 against Yale and 47-28 in his eighth season at Providence.
Bulldogs Bite Lions
Yale got 570 total yards from its offense and five turnovers from its defense to beat Columbia 37-3 Saturday afternoon in New York. The Bulldogs had their best day running the football this season with 228 yards from seven different players, including 72 yards and two touchdowns from TB Mike McLeod. LB Lee Driftmier and SS Matt Handlon both had two interceptions. WR Ashley Wright (7-93) hauled in a pair of scoring passes from Jeff Mroz (22 of 33, 329 yards) while PK Alan Kimball booted three field goals. CBs Andrew Butler and Mike Holben each led the Blue with eight tackles.
Hartigan Runs Over Quakers
Brown registered a 34-20 victory over Penn at Brown Stadium last week. Bears' senior All-American running back Nick Hartigan rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns against the number one rushing defense (49.1 avg.) in the nation, going over the 100 yard rushing mark for the 20th time in his Brown career. Hartigan's 167 yards gives him 1,113 yards for the season, his third four-digit campaign. He now has 3,878 career yards, fourth best in Ivy football history. With two touchdowns, Hartigan moved into a tie for third place in Ivy League career touchdowns with 44. Brown's tremendous defensive effort was sparked by LB Zak DeOssie, who made 13 total tackles, including 8 solo hits, one tackle for a loss, forced a fumble and broke up two passes. CB Jamie Gasparella also had a great day with six total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, an interception and a 13-yard fumble return.
Bear (formerly Bruin) Bites
Hartigan leads the nation with 159 yards per game while PK Steve Morgan tops I-AA with 2.14 FG per game... WR Jarrett Schreck (96.29) leads the Ivies in yards per game, while the Bears lead the league in total offense, scoring, pass defense, kickoff returns, and turnover margin.
Drives Over Points
While the Elis only had six points in the second half at Columbia, they had a pair of 10-play drives that went 67 and 77 yards to produce Alan Kimball field goals. A nine-play, 56-yard march ended in a missed three-pointer.
Doubling Up on Rushing TDs
Yale entered last Saturday's game with just two rushing TDs, both by freshman RB Mike McLeod. Against the Lions at Baker Field, the rookie sensation added another pair of ground scores, a one-yard plunge and a seven-yarder.
New Face Behind Center
Last fall, QB Alvin Cowan took every snap for the Bulldogs while backup Todd Feiereisen ended up switching to WR after the campaign. This year, Jeff Mroz had every snap until Matt Polhemus entered the Columbia game with three minutes left. The sophomore from North Chatham, Mass., completed one pass for 13 yards and ran once for 25 more while moving the Bulldogs down the field. Senior RB Tyler Wells (Haddam, Conn.) entered the game with Polhemus and got his first varsity carries (4 for 6 yards).
Driftmier Named Ivy Defensive and I-AA.org Player of the Week
Yale safety Matt Handlon (Valparaiso, Ind.) had his first two-interception game last week at Columbia, but teammate Lee Driftmier (Bellevue, Wash.) had the highlight catches on picks of Lion QBs. The Yale LB, who was named Ivy League Defensive and I-AA.org Player of the Week, made a spectacular, diving grab along the Columbia sideline before making an acrobatic tip and pick later in the game. Driftmier also had a fumble recovery to go along with four tackles. DBs Mike Holben and Andrew Butler led the Blue with six solos and eight total tackles each.
Kimball Has Best Day
Sophomore PK Alan Kimball (Olathe, Kan.) enjoyed his finest collegiate day with three (four attempts) field goals (21, 23, 41) and four PATs. Kimball, who had seven kickoffs, also made a tackle while finishing the day with 13 points. The three field goals were a season-high and the most since John Troost hit three against the Lions in 2003, while the 41-yarder was Kimball's career long.
Mroz On the Move
Senior QB Jeff Mroz, who leads the Ivies in three offensive categories, enjoyed his most efficient day of 2005 last week with 22 completions in 33 attempts for 329 yards and a pair of scores. Mroz connected on just three of his first seven passes before going 10 for his next 14. He was seven of 10 on third-down passes. The Greensburg, Pa., native has tossed a TD in every game this fall and has now gone two straight weeks without an interception. The 2005 team captain has 33 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. He earned his first (co) Ivy Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 26 when he tied the school record for TD passes with five (Pete Doherty, vs. Columbia , Oct. 15, 1966) against Cornell. Mroz ranks among the top 10 in all of Yale's QB records despite just 16 starts.
Last week's 37-3 game marked the largest margin of victory for the Blue since a 62-28 (34-point) decision against Towson in 2003. It was the largest margin of victory over an Ivy opponent since a 41-0 beating of Columbia in 2000.
Junior Matt Murray (Chappaqua, N.Y.) spent the last two seasons as a backup RB who never saw varsity action. He was moved to LB last spring but has been taking snaps in the offensive backfield at practice this fall. He got his first carries last Saturday and took full advantage with 64 yards on six attempts.
Team Superlatives from Big Apple
Yale's 228 rushing yards, 570 yards of total offense, two rushing TDs, five turnovers caused and four interceptions were all season highs.
Yale leads the Ivies in scoring defense (17.9), passing offense (261), third down conversions (43.1) and pass efficiency (136.9)... John Sterling, the radio voice of the New York Yankees, former New York Giant Howard Cross and WFAN Radio's Chris Shearn have the call of this week's game at the Bowl on the YES Network... Six different Yale runners carried the ball at Columbia, the most ever by a Bulldog squad under Jack Siedlecki... FB Taylor Craig (2-7) ran for one first down before getting injured and replaced by sophomore Joe Fuccillo (2-4)... Yale won its first road game this season... If the Elis were to win the Ivy title, they would be the first champion with at least four overall losses.
Wright On The Money
Junior WR/P Ashley Wright has caught five TD passes over the last three games and leads the team with eight, which is fifth-best at Yale. 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 43 catches and ranks first in the Ivy League and 13th in I-AA with 6.14 catches per game, while his 89.29 yards per outing are second best in the Ivies and 16th in the nation. Wright, who is seventh in the Ivy League with a 34.03 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.
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.
The Bulldogs have 22 touchdowns in 2005 but all but four have come through the air on QB Jeff Mroz tosses. Freshman RB Mike McLeod has the four rushing scores this fall, while sophomore PK Alan Kimball has four field goals. 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.
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 sixth TD pass of the year at Penn. He is second on the squad with 36 catches. 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 third in the Ivies in receptions per game and is third 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 Columbia
"We absolutely had to win. We came out and ran the ball, which is something we put a tremendous emphasis on. The biggest thing was the turnovers. Our defense created them, and our offense took advantage of it. We went through some tough times early in the season. We lost three close football games... [but] in the league we've taken care of business except for one game. Right now, we sit in a good position. I said to the players stranger things have happened. You've got to believe in yourselves."
Freshman RB Mike McLeod ranks 24th in I-AA all-purpose yardage with 130.57 per game and 74th with 71.29 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 four straight weeks. McLeod earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this year after the Dartmouth game. He averages 17.83 on kick returns and has 12 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.
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 829) 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 lineman in league history to earn rookie of the year honors.
The Yale JV squad fell to Springfield 33-19 last Sunday at home despite some strong showings by Bulldogs. TB Steven Santoro had a 95-yard TD return on a kickoff and also returned one 45 yards. QB Ryan Fodor ran for one score and threw for another to WR Grant MacQueen, while WR Ken Ebeling blocked a punt.
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.
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. In addition, 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.
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.