The Yale Bulldogs held on to defeat the Princeton Tigers on Saturday at the Bowl in a 24-20 contest. The dire weather predictions earlier in the week likely impacted attendance, but the 7,500 faithful fans in the stands were treated to a win for the ages.
Yale’s offensive line paved the way for 297 rushing yards against the top-ranked Ivy League defense. Mendoza was still out with an injury at tackle, but Session stepped up the past two weeks to keep the offensive line stable. Grooms was electrifying as he racked up 152 rushing yards (7.6 yards per carry) and a touchdown on the ground. Through the air, Grooms completed 9 of 19 passes for 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Grooms’ sole touchdown pass came on a beautifully designed play in which Grooms rolled out to his left, planted his feet, and threw the ball across the field to Nenad who outmaneuvered a Tiger defender in tight coverage for the score. The coaches were able to use Princeton’s aggressiveness against them with convincing fakes to Pitsenberger and Peterson that gave Grooms just enough space to make them pay in the running game. With much of the talk this season surrounding Princeton’s Ryan Butler as Rookie of the Year, Pitsenberger made a strong case for the award with 20 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. Nenad led in receiving yards with 14 while Lindley led in receptions with 3. Tipton was out of the sling and back in action although he was injured again at one point. The wideouts were fantastic in run blocking but will need to eliminate the dropped balls by Brunelle and others this week. Hawes hauled in 2 receptions and was able to bounce back from a brutal hit that dislodged his helmet.
The Bulldogs forced the Tigers to become one dimensional with the complete destruction of their running attack. Princeton managed to gain just 76 rushing yards on 23 rushes for an average of 3.3 yards per rush. Outside of quarterback rushes, the Tigers gained just 13 yards with heralded freshman RB Butler held to .8 yards per carry. Stenstrom was able to pick apart the secondary at times with 367 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, but the corners and safeties were largely able to keep Princeton’s talented receivers in front of them and limit the big scoring plays that plagued Princeton’s previous foes. Vaughn had another stellar game leading all Yale defenders with 9 tackles and providing coverage on the last play of the game. The defensive line dominated at the point of attack in the running game and disrupted Stenstrom at times in the passing game. Gulley and Patterson each notched a sack in the contest. Egodogbare looked like a seasoned veteran at defensive tackle before suffering a serious knee injury. The starting secondary of Owens, Guyton, Ellis and Oldacre held their own against future NFL talent. The coaches continue to gain trust in Gonzales at cornerback with the freshman guarding Classi and Iosivas in some packages. If there were a statistic for momentum swinging plays per snap, surely Brandon Benn would be the team leader in the category. Benn intercepted Stenstrom twice in addition to 4 tackles and a tackle for loss.
Bosman nailed a critical 44-yard field goal and averaged 38.5 yards per punt with 2 punts traveling over 50 yards. Raine blocked an extra point attempt that forced Princeton to try to score a touchdown in the waning seconds rather than taking the easy chip shot of a field goal.
The focus now turns to winning The Game with the Ivy League Championship on the line.
Next up: Harvard