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Bulldogs Host Cornell Saturday

Candler Rich - TD. (photo by Jack Warhola)
Candler Rich - TD. (photo by Jack Warhola)


NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale Football Team, coming off its ninth straight opening day victory, kicks off the 2015 Ivy League campaign by hosting Cornell on the Class of 1954 Field at Yale Bowl. The Bulldogs (1-0) and Big Red (0-1) play at 1 p.m. in a contest that can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network. The game also airs on the Yale Football Radio Network (ESPN Radio AM-1300 in New Haven).

Yale leads the series with Cornell 46-29-2 heading into the 78th meeting. The series began in 1889 with a 60-6 Bulldog win at New Haven.  The Elis have taken four of the last seven.

The Bulldogs won 51-13 at Schoellkopf Field as quarterback Morgan Roberts threw for 312 yards and tied a Yale single-game record by throwing five touchdowns. He also set a Yale single-game record for completion percentage, completing 26 of 30 passes before sitting out the final quarter.  Cornell tried three different quarterbacks but completed just 10 of 25 passes for 120 yards against the Yale defense.

The Elis trailed 21-7 at halftime of their Sept. 19 opener on the road before outscoring the Raiders 22-7 in the second half and grabbing a 29-28 win. Yale, facing a team that had just played Navy and FCS powerhouse New Hampshire, managed to block two field goals and score on a two-point conversion in a most improbable comeback. The visitors had the edge in first downs (25-19) and total offense (365-330) though Colgate had the ball for almost seven minutes more.

R.J. Nitti, the son of former Yale and NFL running back John Nitti '81, threw his second TD pass of the game with 1:53 left to put Bucknell ahead for good in a 19-14 win at Cornell last week. Big Red RB Luke Hagy had a 5.8 average and 105 yards with one score on 18 runs, while Robert Somborn completed nine of 18 passes including a scoring play. Jimmy King led the Cornell defense with six solos and seven overall stops along with two sacks.

Two teams coming off season-opening, last-minute decisions against Patriot League teams clash at the Bowl. One lost at home and the other grabbed the win on the road.
Last year the Blue overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Lehigh in the 2014 opener. Last week the Elis erased a pair of 14-point Raider advantages before taking the decision.

Sophomore WR Michael Siragusa Jr. (a.k.a. Goose) had a career-best day at Colgate last week with a team-high seven catches for 82 yards and his first two collegiate scores. His 13-yard, catch and run scoring play with 3:39 left in the game tied the game and allowed the Elis to kick the game-winning extra point.

22 WITH 2
Sophomore LB Matthew Oplinger, who had two solos and six overall tackles at Colgate, converted the most surprising play of the day. Following a Robert Clemons TD catch with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter, the Elis pulled off a critical, two-point conversion. Oplinger took a direct snap from center, made a cut and then slipped through the defense into the end zone. That cut the Raider lead to 28-22. The young Bulldog defensive starter from Summit, N.J., who wore No. 44 last fall, switched to No. 22 this season to honor his brother, Eric, who died last spring. Eric had worn the number in high school. Another brother, Justin '10, played football at Yale.

Senior DB Roger Kilgore, a key member of the special teams, made the "hit of the game" on a punt return last week in the opener. In the fourth quarter, during a big comeback by the visitors in the fourth quarter, Kilgore lit up a Colgate punt coverage guy as teammate Jason Alessi caught the ball and started up field. The Rahway, N.J., native caught the Raider defensive player just as he approached the return man, knocking him five yards off the play.

It seemed as if every play made by Yale was the difference in the one-point win, but one Bulldog made a pair of them that saved six points. Junior free safety Foyesade Oluokun blocked field goal attempts of 36 and 34 yards in the first and third quarters that were big plays when they were made but even more significant when you look back on the outcome. The St. Louis native also chipped in three solos and eight overall tackles.

On Colgate's last possession, which started near midfield, the Yale defense made the plays to prevent a first down and end the home team's hopes for a win. Junior CB Spencer Rymiszewski knocked down a third-down pass before junior DE Marty Moesta and senior LB Andrew Larkin wrapped up the Raiders' QB on a fourth-down scramble to end the series.  

Senior QB Morgan Roberts, facing a scholarship team hosting homecoming day in its third game of the year, brought the Blue back from a pair of two-touchdown deficits on its opening day. Trailing 28-14 with 10:05 left, Roberts (29-41, 293) connected on two of his three TD passes to help register the 29-28 win over Colgate. He overcame four sacks in the first half and a 21-7 deficit to notch his second straight opening-day comeback win and earn co-Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors.

The five starters on the Yale offensive line have started all 10 games the last two seasons. Center Luke Longinotti has 21 straight starts, while the left side of the line, guard Mason Friedline and tackle Khalid Cannon have 11 each. Guard Jon Bezney and tackle Beau Iverson got their first starts at Colgate.

Junior Victor Egu played his first game at linebacker last week and had a career and game-high 13 total tackles. The Concord, Calif., native played end his first two Yale seasons.

Morgan Roberts threw for 312 yards and tied a Yale single-game record by throwing five touchdowns. He also set a Yale single-game record for completion percentage, completing 26 of 30 passes in 2014… Tom Mante '10 tied the 104-year-old school record for longest field goal and broke the Ivy League record with a 54-yarder at the Bowl against the Big Red in 2009… Jeff Mroz '05 tied the school record with five TD passes in 2005; Ashley Wright '07 caught three Jeff Mroz passes that day to tie a Yale record… Robert Carr '05 rushed for a sophomore record 235 yards and four scores at Ithaca in 2002…  Billy Brown '02 tied the Yale standard for TDs in a game with three in 2001… P.J. Collins '04 set the "modern" school mark with seven punt returns in 2001 (team's 10 also a record)… Yale had a school record 214 kickoff return yards in 1990 on eight returns… Ken Hill '79 broke a 19-year-old Yale record with a 100-yard kickoff return in the 1978 game… The Blue set a team record for punting average (47.8) in 1970.

Sophomore safety Hayden Carlson had a team-high four solo tackles (8 overall)… Former Yale DB Barton Simmons is Director of Scouting for #247Sports and a member of the US Army Bowl selection committee… Greg Hall '77, a former Yale tight end, was the halftime guest on the Yale Football Radio Network last week… Long-time Yale trainer Billy Kaminsky passed away last week after serving more than 40 years as a significant part of the Yale athletic experience for so many Bulldogs.

Seven players on the current roster earned All-Ivy honors in 2013, 2014 or both. On defense it was: SS Cole Champion '16 – Second-Team 2013, HM 14; DB Foyesade Oluokun '17 – Second-Team 2013, 14 and DL Copache Tyler '17 – Second-Team 2014. The offense included: QB Morgan Roberts '16 – Second-Team 2014; C Luke Longinotti '16 – Second-Team 2014; TE Leo Haenni '17 – HM 2014 and RB Candler Rich '17 – HM 2014.

Cole Champion, Yale's senior captain, was part of two high school national championships at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The Bulldog strong safety and two-time All-Ivy pick has 171 career tackles and four interceptions. Champion has started the last 27 straight games

Morgan Roberts, a 2014 second-team All-Ivy pick who attended Charlotte Country Day before attending Clemson University, has been Yale's starter since game one of 2014. He played in nine games in 2013 as the No. 2. Since coming to New Haven, Roberts has produced enough to be on the following career lists: 6th in total offense (4,096); 7th in passing yards (3,862); 7th in passing attempts (483); 7th in completions (314); 8th in passing TDs (29).

This is for the folks who have to announce Yale games, There are 12 double numbers on the Yale roster this fall. Here are the one that might cause the most confusion:

19 – QB Morgan Roberts, DB Jason Alessi
14 - QB Logan Scott, DB Will Bryan
10 - QB Tre Moore, LB Victor Egu
26 - DB Hayden Carlson, WR Matthew Rubino

Sophomore receiver Bo Hines (6 catches at Colgate), who transferred from North Carolina State after a highly successful freshman season in the ACC, was candid about his decision to come to Yale in a tweet last December. "I must do what I believe is best for my future, not only as a student-athlete but as a human being." Hines led the Wolf Pack with 45 catches and 616 yards. He scored one TD and was listed as the top punt returner for the second half of the 2014 season but did not have any returns. Hines helped NC State go 8-5 and beat Central Florida in the Bitcoin Bowl.

It's very rare to have an ex-Yale football captain on the coaching staff, but the Elis now have two. Paul Rice '10 (outside LB, special teams), who joined Tony Reno's staff in February of 2013, became the first captain to return as a "full-time" or "primary" coach since Albie Booth in the late 1930s. Chandler Henley '07 (TEs), who led the Elis to a 2006 Ivy title as captain, came back to New Haven last spring. Six Yale graduates currently serve on college coaching staffs. Bob Shoop '88 is defensive coordinator at Penn State. Dartmouth has Kyle Metzler '02, the running game and recruiting coordinator who focuses on the offensive tackles.  AJ Haase '09 is graduate assistant with Iowa, while Josh Grizzard '12 is graduate assistant at Duke.

Pat Graham '01 (see photo), a former Yale tight end and defensive lineman, is a defensive assistant coach for the 2015 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. He is in his seventh season at Foxboro. Graham, a Waterbury, Conn., native, was a member of Yale's 1999 Ivy title team. Michael McDaniel '05 is in his ninth NFL campaign and first as offensive assistant with Atlanta. Last year, he was a receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns. He also coached the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. The Yalie with the longest NFL tenure (player/coach) in Ivy history is Dick Jauron '73, who played eight seasons between two teams and then spent 32 years as a coach. His last was 2012 with Cleveland.


Rank    School    Points
1.    Harvard (11)    130
2.    Dartmouth (4)    116
3.    Yale (1)        98
4.    Princeton    82
5.    Brown (1)    80
6.    Penn        51
7.    Columbia    29
8.    Cornell        26

It's not easy to make a college football schedule, which is drawn out many years in advance with potential moving parts. This fall just happened to shake out with a school-record (low) four home games for the Elis. Last year, Yale had six at home, this fall it's six on the road.

Here's what the Bulldogs did in 2014.

Ranked 22nd among 124 FCS teams by NCAA simple rating system;
Team (FWAA Team of Week) – Sept. 27 win over Army
FCS Top 5 Stats: Total Offense (571.5) – 1; Third-Downs (.517) – 1; Scoring (41.3) – 3; Passing (323.6) – 5th
Major School (modern) Records Broken: Scoring, 411 points; Touchdowns, 53; Total Plays, 836; Total Offense: 5,715 yards; First Downs in a game, 36 vs. Army
National Stats Leaders: Receiving Yards per game - Grant Wallace (113.0); Scoring – Tyler Varga (15.6)

The Yale JV contests include three home games slated this fall, each of which takes place on Clint Frank Field: 10/4 vs Brown; 10/18 vs Milford Academy and 11/20 vs Harvard.

Tyler Varga '15, Yale's All-American running back, made the 53-man Indianapolis Colts roster. Varga played in all four Indy pre-season games and finished with 18 carries for 69 yards, including a touchdown against the Rams on Aug. 29. He had five receptions for 36 yards, made a tackle on special teams and returned a pair of kickoffs. In the Sept. 13 opener at Buffalo, Varga returned two kicks, had one carry and caught a pass on an 18-yard play.

Dick Jauron '73, the All-American Yale running back who became a pro football star before earning AP Coach of the Year honors as an NFL head coach, is now in the College Football Hall of Fame. Induction for the class of 2015 hall of famers takes place Dec. 8, 2015, at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City's historic Waldorf Astoria.

This Saturday is Walter Camp Day. The Walter Camp Football Foundation, in conjunction with YNH Hospital Auxiliary Toy Closets Program, gives free tickets for new, unwrapped toys. Drop the toys at Yale's Hospitality Village on Central Avenue, near gates D and E. This is the 16th year the WCFF has coordinated this drive and it's the seventh year partnering with the law firm of Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.

This past summer we mourned the loss of former Yale and Chicago Bears captain Mike Pyle '61, who led the Bulldogs to their last perfect season in 1960.

Chris Getman '64, an ex-Yale baseball player, has been "pitching" Handsome Dan for Yale since 1983. The former lefty hurler has been the caretaker of the school mascot – walking the sidelines of home games - since former AD Frank Ryan asked him to take the role. Getman, whose role at Yale encompasses much more than games at the Bowl, is a community leader and a highly successful owner of Soundview Capital Management Corp. He is on his fourth Yale mascot. Sherman, the 17th edition of Handsome Dan, is eight years old and weighs 65 pounds.

The last time a head coach brought two different teams to the Bowl to play Yale in consecutive years was Earl "Red" Blaik with Dartmouth in 1940 (Yale win, 13-7) and then Army in 1941 (20-7 Army). When Columbia comes to town on Halloween, Al Bagnoli will become the next guy to do that. The former Penn coach, who brought the Quakers to the Bowl in 2014, took over this year at Morningside Heights.

Yale is now 6-3 in OT games after the win against Army in 2014. The Elis are 4-1 at home in extra sessions, the only loss against Harvard in triple OT in 2005. Yale has a pair of triple-session OTs (Penn, 2007) and a two double-dippers (Princeton, 2003; Holy Cross, 2008)

Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football, and some of his players are at world famous Mory's (306 York Street) every Tuesday at noon for the Dick Galiette Yale Football Media Luncheon. This event is limited to media only. Please contact Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn ( if you would like to attend.

You can listen to legendary coach Carm Cozza and Ron Vaccaro '04 call the action of Yale Football this fall on ESPN Radio1300 (AM 1300) or News Radio 960 WELI (AM 960), depending on the game, as well as iHeart Radio, and on the Yale Football Radio Network, which includes Talk of Connecticut radio stations WDRC (AM 1360 Hartford), WWCO (AM 1240 Waterbury), WMMW (AM 1470 Meriden), WSNG (AM 610 Torrington) and WDRC (FM 102.9 HD -3 Hartford). Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn also takes part in the broadcasts.

Eight of Yale's 10 football games this fall air live on TV including five broadcasts between NBC Sports Network and Fox College Sports that are part of the 2015 Ivy League TV Package. Yale's Ancient Eight TV games begin on Oct. 10 at Dartmouth on Fox. The Bulldogs' first-ever Friday Ivy League Game is on NBCSN on Oct. 23 at Penn's Franklin Field. That's the second of two Eli games that require lights this season. The season finale against Harvard begins at 2:30 on Nov. 21 and can be seen on NBCSN as well. All games on NBCSN will also be available on NBC Sports Live Extra. In addition to the league package, all three non-league contests are on a mix of local and national TV. The season opener at Colgate aired on New York's Time Warner Cable. The second road trip, at Lehigh on Oct. 3, is on in the Lehigh Valley's Service Electric 2 Sports. Finally, the Elis make their first visit to the University of Maine for an Oct. 17 game broadcast on the local ABC affiliate, which will share it with Fox College Sports.

Two of Yale's games can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network, while the other eight are on national or regional TV or another streaming network. There is a Yale channel on the Ivy League Digital with an easy-to-navigate interface for a league-wide schedule and interactive touch points to showcase content available on computer, mobile and tablet devices all without the use of an app. Available at, fans can have a year-long Yale channel for $89.95. The package includes live home and selected away games in HD as well as on-demand programming. There is also a four-month pass for $34.95, a one-month pass for $10.95 or a single-day pass for $9.95.

The Bulldogs, off on Mondays, are on Clint Frank Field from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Fridays are walk-through days either at Yale Bowl or on the road and times vary. Players and coaches are available for interviews with working media following the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday practices if there is no student-athlete scheduling conflicts. All schedules are subject to change. Media must check with Steve Conn at least 24 hours in advance to attend a practice.

The Yale Bowl press box has a true taste of New Haven with Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant and Blue State Coffee available to media. Yorkside, a family operated business since 1969, provides pies, pasta and salad Blue State, an 11-year-old business that donates a portion of sales to area non-profits, has the best coffee in town.

filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director