Harvard Notes

The Bulldogs secured their 4th Ivy League Championship in the last 6 years with a 23-18 win over the Crimson at the Bowl in front of a crowd of over 51,000 spectators.  Congratulations to the players and coaches on an amazing back-to-back title run!

Grooms had ups and downs throughout the contest but delivered with the game on the line in the 4th quarter. Two promising Yale drives were derailed by turnovers from Grooms as he was under heavy pressure and was trying to force miraculous plays. Once the Crimson had taken the lead, Grooms found Tipton open along the sideline for a 31-yard gain for one of the greatest receptions in Yale’s history. Tipton managed to secure the pass and tap one foot in bounds right in front of Tim Murphy who successfully pleaded the case that Tipton was out of bounds before an overruling from the replay officials. On the next series, Grooms perfectly placed a ball to the corner of the end zone that Pantelis snagged over a defender in tight coverage. Although Grooms accounted for just 12 net rushing yards (64 yards gained, 52 yards lost), he had impactful runs and scrambles all contest. Pitsenberger, Alston, and Denney had tremendous performances at the running back position. Pitsenberger rushed for 99 hard fought yards and left a few more yards on the table as he tried to outrun defenders laterally instead of cutting inside. Alston had a strong showing in his final contest as he led the Bulldogs with 5.0 yards per carry. Denney filled in with Peterson out with an injury and was a pleasant surprise in the running game with 4.5 yards per carry and a touchdown. Yale only completed 10 passes in the contest but the wideouts made the most of their limited receptions. Lindley led the unit with 4 receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown while Tipton and Pantelis combined for another 3 receptions. The offensive line had their hands full against a stout defensive front yet only allowed 3 sacks and paved the way for 13 rushing first downs that allowed Yale to possess the ball over 35 minutes in the contest. The Bulldogs were fortunate that Durand was healthy as Bluhm and Charron battled through injuries during the contest. Junior OL Connor Smith filled in admirably at the guard position for much of the contest following Charron’s injury. Hawes and Yates were both solid at run blocking.

While the offense did just enough to win the contest, the defense and special teams deserve much of the credit for the victory. The defense limited Harvard to just 4 of 14 on third downs and 0 of 3 on fourth downs. The Crimson’s 1st Team All-Ivy running back was held to 50 rushing yards and no touchdowns. Vaughn was dominant with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception that was returned for a touchdown but called back due to a penalty. Murphy did not study the Yale-Princeton film closely enough as he ran Harvard’s QB up the middle at Vaughn in the 4th quarter resulting in a fumble and shoulder injury for Jaden Craig. Moore had a nice contest with 4 tackles, half a tackle for loss and tight pass coverage. Patterson was a headache for the Crimson throughout the game and allowed his fellow defensive linemen to rack up impressive statistics. Larry notched another 3 sacks in the contest while Gulley, Shaber, Tyler, Egodogbare and Yang all made key stops. Owens and Guyton played well at the cornerback positions with Guyton sealing the victory on 4th down with tight coverage. Daniyan was beat on a flea flicker on Harvard’s opening possession but bounced back to have a stellar showing. Tarver showed promise against Harvard’s rushing attack but was out of position on both of the Crimson’s touchdown passes.

Bosman made his only field goal attempt of 33 yards and averaged 38 yards per punt. Florio handled most of the punting duties and placed two of his four punts inside the redzone although his 25-yard punt in the 4th quarter nearly proved disastrous. The punt block and field goal block teams were gamechangers for Yale. Dayne and Raymond each blocked a punt while Egodogbare blocked an extra point attempt that forced Harvard to chase additional points on failed two-point conversions.

Congratulations to Team 150!

YaleFB Awards

MVP: Joseph Vaughn, Linebacker

Senior of the Year: Joseph Vaughn, Linebacker

Junior of the Year: Alvin Gulley, Jr., Defensive Tackle

Sophomore of the Year: Joshua Pitsenberger, Running Back

Rookie of the Year: Osize Daniyan, Safety

Most Improved over Career: Jermaine Baker, Linebacker

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Jonathan Mendoza, Tackle

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Clay Patterson, Defensive End

Offensive Skill Position Player of the Year: Mason Tipton, Wide Receiver

Defensive Skill Position Player of the Year: Joseph Vaughn, Linebacker

Specialist of the Year: Jack Bosman, Kicker/Punter

Most Underrated Player: Zion Dayne, Special Teams

Ivy Awards

1st Team All-Ivy

Kiran Amegadjie, OL

Jonathan Mendoza, OL

Nolan Grooms, QB

Mason Tipton, WR

Clay Patterson, DL

Joseph Vaughn, LB

Wande Owens, DB

2nd Team All-Ivy

Joshua Pitsenberger, RB

Jackson Hawes, TE

Honorable Mention All-Ivy

Michael Bennett, OL

Alvin Gulley, Jr., DL

Hamilton Moore, LB

Sean Guyton, DB

Yale 23 Harvard 18

Game Week

Harvard Preview

The Bulldogs host the Crimson on Saturday at the Bowl for the 139th playing of The Game. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air nationally on ESPNU. Kinderhook Industries, a New York based private equity firm founded by two former Elis, is the official sponsor of this year’s contest.

Harvard enters The Game with an 8-1 record (5-1 Ivy) and has secured at least a share of the Ivy League Championship. Harvard’s sole loss came at Princeton in a 14-21 contest, although the Quakers had the Crimson on the ropes last week and simply could not perform in overtime to walk away with a victory.

Harvard’s offense is led by sophomore QB Jaden Craig (6’2”, 215 lbs.) who has proven to be a dual threat over his two starts. Junior QB Charles DePrima (6’2”, 185 lbs.) started the first seven contests but was eventually benched in favor of Craig after lackluster performances versus Princeton and Dartmouth. Craig has completed 59.4% of his passes for 530 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The Crimson’s offense has heavily leaned on quarterback rushes this season and Craig has posted a whopping 6 rushing touchdowns. Junior RB Shane McLaughlin (5’11”, 200 lbs.) hits the holes very quickly and possesses surprising power with 5.5 yards per carry and 6 rushing touchdowns on the season. Harvard has a very talented wide receiving unit as well as the top tight end in the Ivy League. Sophomore WR Cooper Barkate (6’1”, 193 lbs.) has hauled in 36 catches for 441 yards and 3 touchdowns. Barkate is roommates with Craig and not surprisingly, has been targeted the most by Craig. In addition to Barkate, the Crimson have another three dangerous wideouts in senior Kaedyn Odermann (6’3”, 211 lbs.), junior Scott Woods II (5’8”, 176 lbs.), and junior Ledger Hatch (6’4”, 190 lbs.). Senior TE Tyler Neville (6’4”, 235 lbs.) was a 1st Team All-Ivy tight end a year ago and is garnering a lot of attention from NFL scouts. Harvard’s offensive line is the most talented unit we have faced all year and averages 296.6 lbs. across the board. The offensive line is a bruising front that has paved the way for 5.1 yards per carry but struggled in pass protection against the Quakers last week as they allowed 6 sacks on Craig. Coach Murphy has seen gadget plays work on the Bulldogs over the last two weeks, so he will be pulling out all the stops in this contest. In fact, Harvard utilized the Philly Special in triple overtime to defeat Penn. Our defensive line must win battles at the line of scrimmage with linebackers and safeties successfully filling gaps to force Craig to try to beat us through the air. Craig will be looking at Barkate and Neville as his first options, so particular attention needs to be paid to these weapons. The Bulldogs will not win this contest if receivers are left as wide open as we saw Princeton’s Colella last week.

The heart of Harvard’s defense is senior DT Thor Griffith (6’2”, 320 lbs.), a 1st Team All-Ivy selection a year ago who has posted 47 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks on the season. Griffith’s dominating play has allowed other Crimson defensive linemen to shine such as junior Brandon Svets (6’5”, 244 lbs.) and seniors Tyler Huenemann (6’3”, 283 lbs.) and Nate Leskovec (6’3”, 251 lbs.). Opponents have averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against the stiff front of Harvard. Senior LB Matt Hudson (6’3”, 230 lbs.) is a returning starter from a year ago who has played very well with 54 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and an interception. Harvard’s linebackers are solid players but not on the same level as Princeton’s Nicholas or Johnson. The Crimson do feature a far superior defensive backfield than the Tigers led by sophomore S Ty Bartrum (6’1”, 195 lbs.) who leads the team in both tackles and interceptions with 72 and 3 respectively. Senior S Kaleb Moody (5’10”, 191 lbs.) has been tremendous on defense and special teams with 50 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 blocked punts. Junior CB Gavin Shipman (5’11”, 168 lbs.) has provided tight coverage and leads the team with 7 pass breakups. The Bulldogs will have to find a way to contain Griffith to burn the clock with Pitsenberger and allow Grooms time to spot open receivers downfield. Like last week, the Elis will need numerous quick hitting, high probability plays to move the ball against this talented defense.

Senior K Cali Canaval (6’3”, 205 lbs.) is 7 of 9 on field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards this season. Junior P Sebastien Tasko (6’1”, 180 lbs.) has averaged 37.9 yards per punt with 12 punts placed inside the red zone. Freshman Xaviah Bascon (5’9”, 190 lbs.) has been excellent on kickoff returns with 28.5 yards per return.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Crimson!

Princeton Notes

The Bulldogs remain in the hunt for a share of the Ivy League Championship following Saturday’s thrilling 36-28 victory over Princeton in double overtime. Yale improved to 6-3 on the season (4-2 Ivy) heading into the 139th playing of The Game. Princeton was officially eliminated from championship contention with the loss, while Harvard secured at least a share of the crown with a triple overtime win over Penn. Dartmouth could also share the championship with a win on Saturday plus a Harvard loss.

Grooms was spectacular versus the Tigers completing 76.7% of his passes for 232 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. In the ground game, Grooms rushed for 45 yards including a 24-yard touchdown scamper on the first drive of the game to put Yale up 7-0. Pitsenberger put together the top performance of his season with 131 rushing yards on 28 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and added 3 touchdowns including the game winner in overtime. Alston appeared to be back in peak form racking up 5.3 yards per carry. After his strong performance last week, Peterson struggled with just 1.3 yards per carry and had a costly fumble that limited his playing time. The offensive line welcomed back Durand into the starting lineup and the physicality at the line of scrimmage allowed the running backs to gash Princeton in the running game. Princeton’s aggressive defense did notch two sacks on Grooms, but the offensive line deserves much of the credit for posting 36 points on the top scoring defense in the nation. Tipton dominated the defensive backs for the Tigers with 10 catches for 130 yards. Pantelis had crucial catches throughout including a potential season-saving grab on an errant pass over the middle that did not appear to be intended for him. With Nenad out of the lineup and Shipp potentially injured on the first play of the contest, Felton saw additional playing time hauling in the only touchdown reception of the afternoon for the Elis.

Princeton entered the contest with a very talented offensive roster that had failed to produce due to turnovers, penalties, and costly errors. The Tigers played a relatively clean game without any turnovers, yet the Bulldogs were up to the task of limiting Stenstrom and company for much of the contest including overtime. Yale did fall victim to the trick plays that were expected including a botched passing play from Barber that he converted into a 25-yard rushing play and the flea flicker to Colella for a touchdown. Vaughn was unstoppable on his way to weekly Ivy League honors with 12 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, and a pass breakup. Our defensive front really stepped up the intensity in pass rushing in this contest sacking Stenstrom 3 times. Larry racked up 2 sacks and narrowly missed on a third, while Tyler added another sack for a 9-yard Princeton loss. Yale’s rushing defense was far from perfect with Volker averaging 6.4 yards per carry, however, the toll of running up the middle against the Bulldogs caught up with him eventually as he was knocked out of the contest with a concussion. The loss of Volker was a tremendous blow to the Tigers, especially in overtime as they became one dimensional. Owens was burned on the flea flicker play (along with the safeties) but more than made up for the error with two crucial pass breakups in overtime to seal the win. Guyton was targeted heavily by Princeton and struggled for the second week in a row.

Bosman missed a game winning field goal in overtime and had a 23-yard punt in the 1st quarter that gave Princeton great field position on their first scoring drive. The punt return squad had a special outing as they blocked two punts (one by Dayne and the other by Belk) and gave Lindley room for a 17-yard punt return. It’s been great to see a dedicated senior like Dayne shine on special teams over the last few weeks.

The coaching staff clearly had a very productive week of preparation and showed the kind of offensive and defensive creativity that’s needed to win Ivy matchups.

Yale 36 Princeton 28

Game Week

Princeton Preview

The Bulldogs hit the road once again for their third and final away game of the season at Princeton. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air on ESPNU. 

The Tigers enter the contest with a 4-4 record (3-2 Ivy) after narrow league losses to Brown and Dartmouth earlier this season. Princeton defeated top-ranked Harvard as well as Columbia and Cornell as they leaned on their talented defense to stymie the opposition. 

Princeton’s offense was expected to be a top performing unit under the leadership of senior QB Blake Stenstrom (6’4”, 220 lbs.) but inconsistencies and turnovers have derailed the Tigers’ offense to date. When the Tigers are in a rhythm, which they’ve shown at times such as in the Harvard contest, they are very dangerous in the running game and passing game. Stenstrom has completed 60.3% of his passes for 1,852 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Despite being a traditional pocket passer, Stenstrom is not afraid to run the ball and Surace has shown increased willingness in recent weeks to run designed QB runs. Junior RB John Volker (6’0”, 210 lbs.) was a former track star and has used that speed to gain 4.5 yards per carry with 6 touchdowns. Junior RB Jiggie Carr (5’10”, 200 lbs.) is also heavily involved in the offensive scheme and averages 4.3 yards per carry. Princeton reloaded at the wide receiver position once again with juniors AJ Barber (5’9”, 180 lbs.) and Luke Colella (6’0”, 190 lbs.) posting impressive statistics. Barber, son of former NFL legend Tiki Barber, has hauled in 36 catches for 530 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Colella has racked up 36 catches for 461 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Princeton’s receiving corps does a great job at finding soft spots in the secondary and gaining substantial yardage after catches. Surace gets very creative on offense and even had Barber attempt a long downfield pass against Harvard which was intercepted. The Tigers will also put a slot receiver or H-back in motion to the sidelines a split second before the ball is snapped and quickly deliver the ball to that receiver on a short outside pass. Given Yale’s inability to stop the reverses on 4th down last week, one has to expect a similar wrinkle thrown into the gameplan by Princeton this week. Princeton’s offensive line averages 300.0 lbs. across the board and is led by 2nd Team All-Ivy OT Jalen Travis (6’9”, 315 lbs.). The offensive line has struggled at times paving the way for just 3.0 yards per carry and has allowed 22 sacks, although several sacks were due in part to Stenstrom holding onto the ball too long in the pocket. Junior TE Tyler Picnic (6’4”, 230 lbs.) is a solid blocker and receiving threat with 17 catches and a touchdown through 8 games. Yale’s defensive strategy this week needs to focus on filling gaps in the running game, getting hits on Stenstrom, and staying true to assignments to limit the big play ability of the exotic schemes Surace may have implemented for this game. 

Princeton’s defense is not only the top defense in the Ivy League, but also the top defensive unit in the entire FCS subdivision. The Tigers are led by two of the best linebackers that we’ve seen in the conference over the last few years in seniors Ozzie Nicholas (6’2”, 225 lbs.) and Liam Johnson (6’0”, 225 lbs.). Nicholas has racked up a whopping 81 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season and was named 2nd Team All-Ivy a year ago. Johnson was the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 and if it weren’t for Nicholas’ stellar performances, he’d likely be a favorite to win the crown a second year in a row. Senior OLB Nicholas Sanker (6’3”, 235 lbs.) has been impressive on film disrupting plays at the line of scrimmage. Princeton’s defensive line does a great job at occupying blockers in their 3-4 defense to allow the linebackers to roam free. Senior DT Jack DelCarbino (5’11”, 275 lbs.) is a hard defender to move and has been the most productive defensive linemen for the Tigers with 37 tackles. Sophomore DE Bakari Edwards (6’1”, 225 lbs.) is a very skilled edge rusher who leads the team with 4 sacks. The best matchup for the Bulldogs in this contest is our wide receivers versus the Tigers’ defensive backs. Opponents have averaged just 2.4 yards per carry against Princeton but have fared moderately better in the passing game with 5.1 yards per attempt. Harvard and Dartmouth both had opportunities in the passing game but due to errant passes or dropped balls, were not able to exploit the Tigers on many occasions. Sophomore S Nasir Hill (6’1”, 190 lbs.) has been the top performing member of the secondary with 47 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception thus far. Princeton plays a fast and aggressive style of defense with great effort. Teams have not found success running the ball, particularly in short yardage situations, and the speed of the defense limits the effectiveness of screens. The Bulldogs have to find a way to get dedicated blockers on Nicholas and Johnson on every running play. The offensive staff must get creative with the short to medium passing plays to give Grooms quick options to unload the ball before the blitzers arrive.

Junior K Jeffrey Sexton (6’2”, 180 lbs.) has been successful on just 2 of 5 field goal attempts this season with a long of 29 yards. Freshman P Brady Clark (6’1”, 195 lbs.) has been reliable with 38.3 yards per punt and has not had a punt blocked this season. Our punt protection team will need to be aware of the very fast edge rushers that Princeton utilizes to disrupt opposing punters.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Tigers!  

Brown Notes

The Bulldogs maintained their momentum with a 36-17 win over Brown on the road. Yale improved to 5-3 (3-2 Ivy) heading into the historic rivalry matchups with the opportunity to determine its own fate.

Grooms had a marvelous showing in his last career contest versus the Bears as he completed 15 of 27 passes for 220 yards, 4 TDs, and 3 interceptions. Ignore the interception total as two passes bounced off receivers in the end zone and the other interception came on a poor play call that Brown sniffed out based on Pantelis’ earlier screens. Grooms put the team on his shoulders in this contest as he picked apart a solid Brown secondary with pressure in his face and had tough runs to move the chains. Grooms led the squad in rushing with 21 rushes for 102 yards (4.9 yards per carry). The offensive line had an up and down performance as they allowed 3 sacks and failed to open rushing lanes for Pitsenberger and Alston but did deliver clean pockets at times and were able to spring Peterson loose. Having three top running backs with varied styles really paid off in this contest as the slight difference in timing and reads made it difficult for Brown to contain Peterson once they had adjusted to Pitsenberger’s style. Hawes returned from an injury yet still seemed to be dealing with some level of pain as he dropped two crucial passes in an uncharacteristic manner. The Bears simply could not contain Tipton as he raced ahead of defenders for 7 catches for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns. The wheel route to Peterson that resulted in a 45-yard touchdown was one of the best play designs that we have seen all year. Pantelis has returned to peak form and racked up 40 yards on 4 catches. Princeton does a tremendous job limiting rushers and shutting down WR screens, so the offensive staff has their work cut out for them in designing a successful attack strategy this week.

The defense held a dangerous Brown offense to just 10 points and 5 of 17 on 3rd down attempts. The defensive line had one of its top performances of the season as they controlled the line of scrimmage and delivered several hits on Willcox. Aside from the reverses that caught the Bulldogs off guard, Brown’s rushing attack never found its footing with just 2.3 yards per carry on the afternoon. The starters along the front (Patterson, Gulley, Egodogbare, and Shaber) were very stout but it was a true group effort with big plays from McDonough, Yang, Mauney, Oxendine and Larry. The linebackers had a great showing with Vaughn leading the team in tackles, Moore delivering punishing blows, and Baker intercepting a pass as well as recovering a fumble. Kamara continued to impress with 5 tackles, an interception, and a hit on the QB. Daniyan keeps getting better and better and posted 6 tackles along with a key forced fumble after a long rush by the Bears. Owens provided tight coverage and stalled an important Brown drive with a TFL on 3rd down. Guyton had a rough contest as he was burned on at least two occasions, although with Tarver out of position at times, he did not have much safety support. Cleaning up the mistakes in the secondary will need to be a point of focus in practice this week as Princeton has the best pure passer in the Ivy League and a cast of explosive wideouts.

The special teams units had a rocky start with a PAT blocked after Yale’s first touchdown, but bounced back to have their top performance of the year. Felton returned 3 kickoffs for a whopping 129 yards to give Yale great field position. Freshman Phoenix Grant blocked a punt that was recovered by Zion Dayne. Dayne also delivered a crushing hit on the first play of the game after Brown’s kick returner had difficulty securing the ball. Bosman made his only field goal attempt, a 21-yarder in the 2nd quarter, and placed 2 of his 4 punts inside the red zone.

Yale 36 Brown 17