The final of the 986 yards of total offense decided Saturday's Yale/Georgetown game.
Yale was setting up for the game-winning field goal when it gave Alex Thomas two carries in a span of three plays with time running down. When Thomas broke through on the last of his 23 carries for a 9-yard run to the 1, the Yale coaching staff had a change of heart.
Both of Alex Barnes' field goal attempts were blocked and there was a bad snap on both a punt and extra point effort so a field goal was hardly a sure thing. Quarterback Patrick Witt, whose 407 yards is the sixth highest single game total in Yale football history, got the call and powered over for the game-winning score on the final play of the game to give the Bulldogs a 40-35 win.
"I was a little shocked that he called the QB sneak at the end," Witt said. "It kind of freaked me out. I knew if I didn't get in it was the ball game but it was an incredible job of executing under pressure for the entire offense."
Obviously Witt was the headliner for the Bulldogs but he had plenty of help.
Yale's first touchdown came when junior linebacker Jordan Haynes picked up a fumble and ran in from 4 yards out after Chance Logan couldn't handle a pitch from quarterback Scott Darby and then failed to jump on the loose ball.
"He was reaching for the ball when it popped out so it was right place, right time," said Haynes, who led Yale with 11 tackles.
Georgetown was driving for a score which would have put the Hoyas up eight (pending a successful extra point) when sophomore linebacker Will McHale intercepted Darby's pass inside the 5. Yale drove 82 yards to the 1 on the ensuing drive but Thomas was stopped twice and then Witt missed an open Chris Blohm in the end zone. Barnes' 18-yard field goal attempt was blocked which at the time appeared as if would be the back breaker for the Bulldogs. Fortunately, Georgetown got conservative. After picking up one first down, Georgetown was stopped when three running plays netted nine yards, the Hoyas had to punt.
With 1:27 to play and 64 yards to cover, Witt was 4 for 6 for 46 yards with three of the completions going to Gio Christodoulou. Witt also shook off a Georgetown defender to avoid a costly sack during the drive.
Had the game ended 35-34 in Georgetown's favor, Williams' decision to not go for a game-tying two-point conversation following Thomas' 10-yard scoring run with 4:26 left in the third quarter would have gotten significantly more attention than it will now.
"What we decided to do was make sure we kept it close," Williams said. "Coaches panic sometimes and they do it too early and then when they don't get it, they are behind. Our philosophy is to keep the game where it is. Early in the third quarter there's no need to go for that. In the fourth quarter, if we need to we will go for that. We have a play designed, ready to go."
A few other observations.
The Yale secondary was rather vulnerable, giving up significant cushions to the Georgetown receivers and the field goal/long snapping issues will need to be resolved.
The offensive line had a solid game. Witt was not sacked and Yale averaged 3.9 yards on 35 carries. There were some changes on the line. Alex Golubiewski started over John Pedersen at one tackle and Jeff Fell was replaced by promising freshman Wes Gavin at the other tackle spot. The moves seemed to work. Thomas ran for two scores and scored another TD on a screen pass. On two other drives he was stopped at the 1. He ran for 90 yards and caught six passes for 71 yards and could be primed for a breakout season.
Yale did not go with its three wide receiver set as much as I thought as Chris Blohm got plenty of time. He caught one touchdown but also helped set up one of Georgetown's scores when he bobbled what should have been a routine catch with the ball landing in the hands of Georgetown's Jayah Kalsamba. Another Hoyas TD was a bad break when Drew Baldwin deflected Darby's pass only to see the ball land in Jamal Davis' hands for a 40-yard TD. Gio Christodoulou had nine catches for 124 yards and could have had more because he had one ball thrown to him in the end zone that whhile it would have been a difficult catch, I am sure Gio thinks he should have make the grab.
Williams did not think the injury to defensive end Tom McCarthy was serious. Williams believed the Yale captain reaggravated his troublesome left Achilles' tendon injury.
Georgetown's two Hillhouse graduates came up big. Lawrence led Georgetown with eight catches for 129 yards and had a TD run out of the Wildcat formation. Jeremy Moore returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for a score, had seven tackles and broke up four passes.
Finally, recent Georgetown games have done little to prepare Yale for its Ivy League opener. Yale beat the Hoyas handily the last couple of years only to get upset by Cornell each time. A game at Cornell is waiting once again on Saturday and despite one heck of a memorable game, next week will give a solid measuring stick of what kind of time Yale is.