Nov. 21, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Three touchdown runs by junior tailback Rodney Reynolds, along with three interceptions by the Yale defense and some key special teams plays, lifted Yale to a 21-6 win over Harvard in The Junior Varsity Game Friday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.
The game was played in cold but sunny conditions as part of the many festivities leading up to Saturday, the 125th edition of The Game. With the Yale varsity leading the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision in scoring defense, the Bulldog JV squad showed that it too can play some D. After allowing a touchdown drive early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs allowed the Crimson inside the Yale 30 on only one of Harvard's next six drives while building a 15-point lead.
Yale's first drive of the game ended when freshman tailback Alex Thomas was brought down at the Harvard 16 when the Bulldogs tried converting a fourth-and-25 from the Harvard 30. But two plays later the offense was back out on the field when sophomore linebacker Dan Walsh grabbed a tipped ball for an interception at the Harvard 19. Freshman fullback Josh Kozel converted a fourth-and-inches at the Harvard 10, dragging several defenders with him, to help set up a three-yard scoring run by Reynolds at 2:23.
Harvard crept closer with a touchdown on its next drive, but the Crimson missed the extra point. Another Harvard special teams gaffe -- a roughing the punter call on a fourth-and-eight for the Bulldogs -- helped keep Yale's next drive alive, but that one ended with a fumble at the Crimson four.
The Crimson got the ball out to their own 21, then had to punt from there. Sophomore defensive end Eric Gresham's leaping block gave the Bulldogs the ball at the 12. Three plays later Reynolds was back in the end zone, this time from seven yards out, with 43.6 seconds left before halftime. Freshman defensive back Bedford Booth's interception of a long pass from the Harvard 35 ended the Crimson's next drive after just one play, and the Elis took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
Harvard's first drive of the second half ended with sophomore defensive end Pat Ruwe nearly intercepting a fourth-and-nine pass from the Yale 34. The offense took over and got a big play on second down, as freshman quarterback Bryan Farris handed off to Reynolds, who handed off to Thomas, who handed off to freshman wide receiver McConnell Smith for an 11-yard gain on a double reverse. A pair of runs by Thomas, combined with a facemask call against the Crimson, got Yale from the Harvard 46 to the Harvard six. On third-and-goal from the one Reynolds powered his way up the middle to make it 21-6 at 5:04 of the third.
Freshman linebacker Wes Moyer, who was wearing uniform No. 23 along with Reynolds, had a big game of his own that included drilling Harvard return man Hunter Thornton at the Harvard 24 on the ensuing kickoff. The Crimson was able to drive to the Yale nine, but sophomore defensive end Matt Messer's tackle for a loss on a screen play, combined with an incompletion, left Harvard facing fourth-and-goal from the 13. Moyer then finished off the scoring threat by breaking up a pass in the end zone.
The Crimson's next chance to get back in the game ended with sophomore defensive back Marcus Wallace's interception deep in Yale territory. The Bulldogs ran nearly four minutes off the clock while driving from their 40 to the Harvard two, but a bobbled snap at the goal line on fourth down cost them the chance to extend the lead. A sack by Walsh, followed by freshmen defensive linemen Reed Spiller and Jake Stoller chasing down the Crimson QB for a five-yard loss, helped put an end to the next Harvard drive.
The Bulldogs fumbled the ball back to Harvard at the Yale 21 with 2:29 to play, but the defense rose to the challenge. Booth broke up a pass in the end zone, forced by heavy pressure from Stoller, on fourth-and-four from the Yale 15.
Yale was unable to run out the clock, but a 38-yard punt from senior punter Josh Helmrich pushed the Crimson back to its 41. Gresham and Moyer nearly picked off another pass on first down, and Stoller came through with a sack for a nine-yard loss on third down, but a penalty gave Harvard a first down. The Cantabs got one last chance at some points when a pass interference call with time expired gave them another play, but Booth brought down receiver Elliot Lauzen at the Yale 15 to seal the 21-6 final.
The Yale JV team ends the season with a 3-2 record.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity