Saturday, October 31, 2009

On the Money

As Yale victories go, few are as improbable as Saturday's 23-22 thriller over Columbia.

Yale entered the fourth quarter without an offensive touchdown in more than 11 quarters and slippery freshman quarterback Sean Brackett, who starred at Griswold High, was eluding the usually sure-tackling Yale defense.

When Patrick Witt, who came on for the start of the third quarter for Brook Hart, hooked up with John Sheffield for a 20-yard TD to end the lack of offensive touchdown streak 32 seconds shy of 180 minutes or three complete games, Yale seemed to be in business.

Then Columbia's all-time leading receiver Austin Knowlin beat Yale safety Geoff Dunham for a 32-yard touchdown reception and Leon Ivery's two-run rush gave Columbia a 12-point lead with 8:32 to play.

That's where Adam Money took over. He chased down Ivery from the opposite side of the field, bringing him down at the 2. On the next play Paul Rice jarred the ball free from Zack Kourouma to keep the Lions from regaining the two-score cushion.

When Yale failed to move the ball, Columbia attempted to run the clock out. Brackett rumbled into Yale's side of the field but Money poked the ball out and recovered.

Witt hooked up with A.J. Haase for 22 yards and Peter Balsam for 8 yards and then Yale was given life when a defensive holding penalty on a fourth-down incompletion gave the Bulldogs 1st and goal at the 10. Witt found Haase along the left sideline for a game-winning score.

"It's probably the craziest win I have ever been a part of here," Sheffield said.

Here are a few numbers. Yale was being outgained 246-146 headed into the fourth quarter, was 1 for 8 on third downs entering the last quarter and somehow escaped with a win.

Mordacei Cargill led Yale with 73 yards but he was replaced by Alex Thomas after he lost his second fumble of the game. Two of Columbia's three scores came on the next play after Cargill lost the ball.

Witt was 14 of 23 for 166 yards and two touchdowns and was not sacked. Brook Hart played the first two quarters, was 9 of 15 yards for 64 yards and was sacked four times.

At halftime, John Sheffield had no catches and A.J. Haase caught two balls for 17 yards. They combined for 10 catches in the second half.

Rice led Yale with 14 tackles. Columbia ripped through the stingy Yale run defense for 235 yards despite being without starting tailback Ray Rangel (out for the season after undergoing surgery on his injured foot) and quarterback M.A. Olawale (who was in uniform but did not throw a pass in practice all week because of a shoulder injury).

Yale denied Knowlin a chance to become Columbia's career leader in receiving yards. Knowlin had three catches for 63 yards, leaving him 32 yards shy of the record.

The Bulldogs turned to Alex Barnes at kicker over Tom Mante after Mante missed three fields last week. Barnes kicked a 47-yard field goal while Mante was impressive both on punts and kickoff returns.

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