Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yale 37, Cornell 17

You have to say this much for the 2011 Yale football team, they tend to make things interesting.

Despite being outgained by Cornell 426-407, Yale defeated the Big Red 37-17 in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

So where do I start?

I found it interesting that Cornell was so conservative for much of the game, especially late in the first half when Cornell settled for a field goal rather than take its final timeout to take one more shot into the end zone. Then the Cornell staff did a complete 180 degree turn by opting for an onsides kick after a 96-yard scoring drive. The decision backfired when Yale senior Cliff Foreman recovered the ball at the Cornell 42. Four plays later Patrick Witt hooked up with Cameron Sandquist for a 13-yard TD. Although the extra point was blocked (to go with a blocked field goal in the first half), Yale was back in front by two scores.

Cornell did manage to answer back with another scoring drive but there was never the same sense of confidence being exuded out of the Big Red players as there was after that impressive 96-yard drive.

Yale left some points on the field in the first half and should have put at least 28 points on the board in the first half but when they had to respond after the game got close, the Bulldogs did just that.

Yale's running game was not a factor in the first half but Cornell seemed to let down a bit and the Bulldogs made them pay. Alex Thomas ripped off a 58-yard scoring run while Mordecai Cargill ended up with 57 yards to go with Thomas' 84.

Allen Harris was Patrick Witt's go-to receiver as he caught eight passes for 107 yards. Of Witt's 33 attempts, I would say Harris was the intended target for at least 12 of them.

Defensively, Nick Okano's athletic interception set up the first Yale TD and he had a key tackle to stop Cornell running back Grant Gellatly one yard short on a 3rd and long play in the second half to set up a punt. Will McHale wasn't cleared to play until Friday after suffering a concussion in last week's game but finished with nine tackles and recovered a fumble.

That's the good news. Now for the other side.

Philippe Panico had a field goal and extra point blocked and both were really low kicks so that is something that Yale coach Tom Williams said must be addressed. Yale is a bend but do not break defense but giving up 426 yards is just too much for a team with as many talented and veteran players. Injury wise, receiver/kickoff return star Chris Smith suffered a lower body injury and was knocked out of the game. Williams did not think the injury was serious. As for James Talerico, who got the start over Colin Kruger, it sounded more serious. Williams believed he suffered a high-ankle sprain and thought he could be sidelined for a bit.

Williams was happy that the Bulldogs were only whistled for one penalty. On the other side, penalties really hurt Cornell in this game. It began immediately when Rashad Campbell brougth back the opening kickoff for a score only to have the score nullified because of a holding penalty. Cornell also had a costly false start on the final drive of the first half and an offensive pass interference penalty shortcircuited another drive.

Yale will host the Army JV squad tomorrow at 1 p.m.

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