Saturday, November 01, 2008

Taming the Lions

It would have been a tad bit ironic if Yale had a 92-yard drive to ice its win over Columbia Saturday since the Bulldogs managed a total of 92 yards in last week's loss to Penn. Although it didn't quite work out like that, there were few complaints to be heard from the Yale camp after the blue-collar 27-12 win.

Mike McLeod ran for 57 of his 85 yards in the second half and his three touchdown runs moved him into second place in Ivy League history in both rushing TDs and points scored.

Although McLeod was named the player of the game, my vote would have gone to senior defensive tackle Kyle Hawari who had eight solo tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. At a point of reference, Columbia had allowed a total of one sack in its three previous Ivy League games and a total of five sacks this season.

Outside of a botched hold on a field goal try and a kickoff which bounced out of bounds, Yale's special teams were indeed special. Junior punter Tom Mante continued to impress by placing four of his five punts inside the 20. Mante did get one gift when Mike Stephens fielded a punt on the Columbia 1 and was stopped by Joe Dennison and Brian Stephenson at the 3. Columbia began three drives inside its own 10 and the average starting spot was the 19. Facing a defense as good as Yale, that is not a recipe for success.

Mante also kicked two field goals, Peter Balsam blocked a punt leading to one of McLeod's three TDs and Adam Money averaged 25 yards on three kickoff returns.

With the win, Yale is still in the Ivy League race. It's pretty simple, if the Bulldogs win at Brown next week they still have a chance. A loss and Yale will be eliminated from the race.

Columbia's decision to move out to the hashmark for the meeting between the team captains at the start of the second half was not well received by Yale. Seeing the Lions hooting and hollering got the attention of the Yale players who promptly made their way to their own hashmark. The officials stepped in, at the request of Yale captain Bobby Abare, to keep tempers from flaring.

"I didn't think much of it," Abare said. "Any time a team comes out like that, it doesn't really show a lot of class but I think we handled it well. We didn't talk back."

The Yale JV team will be back in action Sunday at noon when it hosts Bridgton Academy at Clint Frank Field. Bridgton features six Connecticut players including receiver Joe Robichaud of Madison, offensive lineman Patrick Miller of Wallingford and linebacker Sean Bostic-Sealy of Hamden.

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