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Columbia Notes

The Bulldogs dominated the Lions on Saturday in a 45-10 contest.

Kurt Rawlings was magical once again throwing for 390 yards and two touchdowns with just a single interception. Rawlings showed his elusiveness in the ground game rushing for 33 yards and two touchdowns. Shohfi and Klubnik put on a clinic with Shohfi hauling in 9 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown and Klubnik hauling in 4 passes for 98 yards. Carrington added 73 yards and a touchdown, but appeared to be injured late in the contest. Dudek had a solid game rushing for 55 yards on just 6 attempts and catching 2 passes for 19 yards. The Columbia defense seemed to key on Lamar whenever he entered the game limiting him to just 12 yards on 8 carries. The offensive line was stellar in pass blocking, yet did allow too much penetration on running downs.

The return of Rodney Thomas was key to shutting down Columbia’s offensive attack. Columbia’s top wideout and playmaker, Wainwright, did not suit up for the Lions giving a leg up to the Bulldogs before play had even commenced. The front seven pounded the Lions all game limiting their rushing attack to 28 yards on 29 attempts and racking up 4 sacks. Nickerson, Matthaei, Ifesinachukwu, Goodyear, Callender, and Kissel were all standouts along the defensive line. Thomas and Awodiran were the heart of the linebacking corps combining for 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for losses. Columbia wideouts were still beating Yale defensive backs in coverage, although the pass rush was able to minimize Lenhart’s effectiveness in delivering the ball. Hickey played sparingly and was seen in the second half leaving the field with a grimace on his face. Freshman Brandon Benn saw the majority of the snaps tying Thomas for a game high 8 tackles. Rouse is improving every week at corner and made a number of crucial tackles. Dixon was ejected for targeting after a controversial penalty.

The punt team struggled allowing Columbia’s Roussos to return a punt 29 yards. Bosman averaged just 29.7 yards per punt. Tuckerman nailed a 38 yard field goal attempt in the 3rd quarter.

One of the highlights off the field was watching two anti-Vicky Chun protestors walk right in front of Chun after halftime.

Yale will travel to Providence to take on the Brown Bears this weekend in what many have described as a trap game.

Yale 45 Columbia 10

Columbia Preview

Ivy League coaching legend Al Bagnoli and his Columbia Lions travel to the Bowl this Saturday for a showdown at noon.  The game will be aired on ESPN+.  It will be perfect fall football weather at the Bowl with a temperature of 50 degrees at kickoff.

Columbia enters the contest with a 2-4 record, however, the Lions dominated Penn in a 44-6 beatdown and played very well defensively versus Princeton in a 21-10 loss.  Bagnoli’s squads at Penn and Columbia have historically been difficult for the Elis to beat.  In a battle of injury plagued teams last season, Columbia prevailed in a 17-10 victory as the Bulldogs struggled to tackle and couldn’t move the ball effectively on offense.  Sophomore quarterback Ty Lenhart commands the Columbia offense, although junior quarterback Josh Bean played extensively earlier in the season.  Lenhart has completed 64.9% of his passes for 518 yards, 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  He is also a threat in the ground game as he averages 4.0 yards per carry and has scored 3 rushing touchdowns.  Sophomore running back Ryan Young (5’9”, 225 lbs.) leads the team in rushing yards and was tough for the Bulldogs to bring down last season with his deadly combination of size and speed.  Senior wide receiver Josh Wainwright is a dangerous playmaker that possess more talent than any wideout we have faced this season including Dartmouth’s Estrada.  The Lions’ offensive line play has been up and down all season struggling versus Dartmouth (as most teams including Yale have as well), but clearly overpowering Penn’s defensive line.  Tight end Rory Schlagerty hasn’t been a huge factor for the Columbia offense with just 12 receptions, but we expect to see Bagnoli try to get him more touches as the Bulldogs focus on shutting down Wainwright.

Columbia’s defense is likely the third best unit in the league behind Dartmouth and Princeton.  Senior defensive end Daniel Delorenzi was a headache for our offensive line last year and has only improved this season posting 4 tackles for losses and 3 sacks.  Senior outside linebacker Michael Murphy is a solid tackler with a knack for finding the ball.  Senior middle linebacker Jalen Williams is a physical defender that has really stepped up this season in place of the injured Justin Woodley.  Junior safety Ben Mathiasmeier leads the defense in total tackles with 40.  Preseason 1st Team All-Ivy cornerback Will Allen is a shutdown defensive back that can play on an island.  This is a game that will be won or lost in the trenches, so we will need tremendous intensity out of our offensive line for the full sixty minutes.  If Rawlings absorbs hits like he did against Richmond, it will spell doom for the Elis.

Freshman kicker Alex Felkins is 5 for 8 on field goal attempts this season with two successful attempts over 50 yards.  Punter Drew Schmid averages 37.4 yards per punt and has placed 9 punts inside opponents’ 20 yard line.  Punt returner and kick returner Mike Roussos has been a momentum changer for the Lions averaging 19.4 yards per punt return and 23.1 yards per kickoff return.  Roussos is currently ranked second nationally in yards per punt return.

Go Bulldogs!

Penn Notes

The Bulldogs survived a shootout versus the Quakers on Saturday edging Penn 46-41.

Kurt Rawlings was in peak form throwing for 388 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 67 yards and two touchdowns.  Klubnik and Shohfi were unstoppable hauling in a combined 20 receptions for 349 yards and two touchdowns.  The offensive line had one of its better showings to date giving Rawlings time in the pocket, allowing only one sack and paving the way for Dudek to run for 97 yards.  Strother was back in the lineup at center sporting an arm brace.  Lamar had a quiet day out of the backfield, but did make a fantastic grab over his outside shoulder in the first half on a critical drive.  The tight ends were a non-factor in the passing game, yet had key blocks on many of Dudek’s runs.  This was the Yale offense that fans were salivating over in the pre-season and if we keep improving, it’s going to be tough for opposing defenses to slow us down.

While the offense was firing on all cylinders, the same could not be said for the defense.  Penn QB Nick Robinson completed 30 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns.  Robinson had averaged just under 214 passing yards per game entering the contest, but he was able to exploit the soft coverages of Yale’s secondary in a career day.  Yale’s pass rush was a huge improvement from what we saw over the last two weeks generating pressure and hard hits on Robinson.  Robinson showed toughness in the pocket as he hung onto the ball as long as possible to give his receivers time to outrun our defensive backs.  The run defense was strong limiting Penn’s star running back to just 72 yards on 20 carries.  Reid Nickerson, Oso Ifesinachukwu, Josh Keeler, Tate Goodyear and Christian Sampleton were the standouts along the defensive line.  Ryan Burke, John Dean and Micah Awodiran had solid outings at linebacker.  Rodney Thomas was still out of the lineup with sophomore Brian Abraham filling his role.  Abraham showed progression from his performance versus Richmond, but the potential return of Thomas will be crucial in our final two showdowns.  The secondary with freshman Brandon Benn manning the free safety position struggled to contain Penn’s top two receiving threats in Cragun and Starkey.  Cragun finished the day with 13 receptions for 208 yards, while Starkey added 5 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.  Shoring up the secondary over the final four games must be the focus of the Yale coaching staff to stay in the hunt for a title.

Tuckerman was four for five on extra point attempts, while Bosman averaged 35.5 yards per punt over four attempts.  Rouse had an exciting 21 yard punt return showing off the elite quickness and agility that earned him the job.     

Yale 46 Penn 41

Penn Preview

The Penn Quakers travel to New Haven to take on the Bulldogs at the Bowl on Saturday at noon.  The game will be aired on ESPN+ and NESN.

Penn suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Columbia last week in a 44-6 contest.  Expect Penn to bounce back and play with a high level of intensity after Ray Priore fired up his squad this week.

The Quakers have a very balanced offensive strategy as they have rushed for 1079 yards with 7 touchdowns and they have passed for 1078 yards and 7 touchdowns.  The offense is led by senior quarterback Nick Robinson (6’2”, 205 lbs.).  Robinson has completed just under 58% of his passes this season with only one interception.  Strong opposing pass rushes have had a large effect on his timing and accuracy.  The star of Penn’s offense is senior running back Karekin Brooks.  Brooks is a solid back with great balance and the ability to break tackles.  He’s rushed for 689 yards this season averaging 5.8 yards per carry.  Sophomore wide receivers Ryan Cragun and Rory Starkey, Jr. are Robinson’s favorite targets in the passing game.  Look for Priore to find ways to get Cragun and Starkey the ball often given Yale’s secondary struggles over the last two weeks.  Penn’s offensive line is above average overall with run blocking being the key strength.  The Yale defense can be successful if it limits Brooks on the ground and generates ample pressure on Robinson on passing downs.

Penn’s defensive line was impressive in the first drive of the Quakers game versus Dartmouth, but they could not sustain that high level of performance over sixty minutes.  Senior defensive lineman Prince Emili (6’2”, 275 lbs.) and junior defensive lineman David Ryslik (6’4”, 280 lbs.) will pose challenges for our injury depleted offensive line.  Emili and Ryslik have combined for 45 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.  Penn always seems to have talented linebackers leading their defensive efforts.  Zach Evans and Brian O’Neill are no exception.  Evans has racked up 44 tackles to lead the defense, while O’Neill has posted 31 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and an interception.  Our offensive line will need to get hands on second level defenders this week to spring runs from Lamar and Dudek.  The Quakers could not contain Columbia’s dual threat quarterback last week allowing him to run for 95 yards and complete 70% of his passes.  Senior safety and two-time 2nd Team All-Ivy selection Sam Philippi is the heart of the secondary with 20 tackles and an interception on the season.

Sophomore punter Jake Haggard averages an efficient 38.9 yards per punt, while junior kicker David Perkins has had difficulties in the kicking game making just one field goal on five attempts.  Penn has been dynamic on kick returns and punts returns averaging 21.0 yards and 16.2 yards respectively.  Special teams could be the deciding factor in this contest, so the Bulldogs will need to limit the mental errors that plagued us versus Richmond.

Go Bulldogs!

Richmond Notes

The Bulldogs stormed back on Saturday to beat Richmond 28-27 in a dramatic finish for the ages.

Yale’s offense stalled in the first half behind a banged up offensive line that could not open holes for Dudek and Lamar and could not contain Richmond’s talented defensive linemen on passing downs. Outside of a nifty 25 yard run by Dudek, the running game was non-existent totaling just 67 yards on the day. Rawlings was once again rushing passes into poor spots and was fortunate that Richmond dropped three potential interceptions. Yale began showing life in the third quarter after a quick four play, 64 yard drive that resulted in a long touchdown reception by Jaylan Sandifer. The Bulldogs’ defense tightened just enough to give Rawlings and company a fighting chance at a comeback. With under five minutes remaining, Rawlings led a 72 yard drive culminating in a 15 yard touchdown by JP Shohfi. Down by six points with just 1:23 remaining on the clock, Shohfi stunned the Richmond crowd by recovering the onside kick. Rawlings marched the Bulldogs down the field once again and delivered possibly the best pass of his career to Reed Klubnik to tie the contest. Tuckerman’s extra point put Yale ahead for the first time in the contest and left only nine seconds for the Spiders to operate.

Richmond seemed to mimic Dartmouth’s successful offensive gameplan with a running game built around jet sweeps and quarterback draws that could open up the field for deadly passing strikes. With Rodney Thomas out of the lineup, the secondary struggled to tackle allowing the worst rushing attack in the CAA to move the chains. Coverage was certainly an improvement from the Dartmouth contest, but without a strong pass rush in the first half, the Spiders were able to find open receivers time and time again. This was a tale of two halves for both the offense and the defense. Deep into the third quarter, defensive linemen began applying pressure and getting off blocks. Linebackers were filling gaps and making crucial tackles, while defensive backs were locking down wideouts. We will all remember the heroics of Rawlings, Shohfi and Klubnik, but the defense had as large of a part in the win as the offense.

This was a signature victory for Reno that gives the Bulldogs a much needed boost of confidence going into the Ivy stretch.

Yale 28 Richmond 27

Richmond Preview

The Bulldogs travel to Richmond, Virginia to take on the Richmond Spiders on Saturday at 6 PM. The game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington and FloSports.

After starting the season 1-3, the Richmond Spiders have evened their record with impressive victories over Albany and Maine in the last two weeks. Redshirt Junior QB Joe Mancuso leads the Spiders in both passing and rushing yards. Mancuso has completed 65.8% of his passes with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. On the ground, Mancuso has averaged 4.7 yards per carry including a season long rush of 23 yards. Redshirt Freshman Aaron Dykes is the top running back averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. Graduate Student Keyston Fuller is an explosive wideout who has caught 27 passes for 562 yards with a whopping 20.8 yards per reception. Charlie Fessler is a big target (6’4″, 220 lbs.) at wide receiver who leads the team in overall receptions at 30. The offensive line has struggled to run block this season, but they were stout in pass protection versus Maine giving up just one sack.

The defense has been the strength of the Spiders squad in recent weeks. Junior linebacker Tyler Dessler was all over the field against Maine with 20 total tackles. Redshirt Sophomore Kobie Turner is a very physical defensive lineman that teams have struggled to contain. Turner (6’3″, 275 lbs.) has 36 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick on the season. Senior safety Daniel Jones could be the largest defensive back we will see all year at 210 pounds and he has the tackling skills of a linebacker with the coverage skills of a corner. With the uncertainty regarding the health of the Bulldog quarterbacks, the Richmond defense will provide yet another huge challenge for our offense.

Freshman kicker/punter Jake Larson has been nearly perfect missing just one field goal attempt that was blocked and punting for an average of 40.1 yards. As a team, the Spiders are not as strong or as deep as Dartmouth, but they are playing very well right now and the Bulldogs will have to dig deep to bounce back with a victory this week.

Dartmouth Notes

The Bulldogs were routed in Hanover by the Dartmouth Big Green in a 42-10 loss on Saturday.

Going into the contest against a stingy defense, we knew that there were going to be challenges blocking the talented Dartmouth defensive linemen.  The offensive line play was up and down and simply wasn’t consistent enough to sustain or finish drives.  When Rawlings did have time in the pocket, he seemed overly anxious as his footwork deteriorated and he forced passes into double coverage.  This led to two ugly interceptions that Dartmouth capitalized on in a hurry.  Rawlings finished the day with just 143 passing yards and 2 interceptions.  Griffin O’Connor didn’t fare much better throwing for 52 yards and completing under fifty percent of his passes.  Lamar and Dudek gained as much as they could in the running game, but we would have liked to see them break more arm tackles to spark the offense.  Melvin Rouse was surprisingly the offensive star of the day with 6 receptions for 65 yards.  Klubnik made a couple of nice catches before the Dartmouth secondary began keying on him nearly every passing play.  Shohfi wasn’t seen for much of the contest, so we are assuming he may have aggravated his prior injury.  The referees missed at least two pass interference calls on the Big Green in the first half, but you have to expect terrible officiating in the Ivy League.  The predictable offensive playcalling certainly didn’t help matters.  Dartmouth was able to play base defense rushing just three down linemen against our ineffective schemes.  The notable trick play of the afternoon consisted of handing the ball off to Griffin O’Connor to throw downfield.  Why not run this play with someone like Conte when opposing defenses have clearly seen O’Connor play quarterback on film?    Much like last year’s contest, this game was out of hand by the third quarter allowing Dartmouth to rotate in their backups.  Freshman QB Nolan Grooms led the Bulldogs on their only touchdown drive of the day completing all of his passing attempts and showing nimbleness in his scrambles.

Yale’s defense had no answers for the Big Green’s potent offensive attack.  Defensive linemen were not creating penetration, getting off blocks or keeping outside containment.  Linebackers were not filling the gaps fast enough or covering the running backs out of the backfield.  While the play of the front seven could be described as below average, the secondary’s performance was downright horrendous.  Dartmouth WR Drew Estrada posted 203 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 5 receptions.  Our cornerbacks and safeties were so far out of position, one had to wonder if they had watched any film of Dartmouth’s passing attack.  Even on simple 5 to 10 yard out routes, the closest defender was 10 yards away.  Aside from one trick play from Dartmouth, they ran basic plays that we should have been prepared for in such an important league contest.  This was the worst showing by the secondary since Penn’s Justin Watson torched the Bulldogs for 160 yards in one half back in 2016.  Princeton and Harvard both have passing attacks on par with Dartmouth’s, so we will need to improve in a hurry to stand a chance in our last two games.

Tuckerman nailed a 42 yard field goal in the second quarter and then missed a 23 yarder after Reno iced him with a timeout.  Bosman only punted twice averaging 35.5 yards per punt.

We’re on to Richmond.    

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