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#12 Yale Outlasts Princeton, 27-6,as Polhemus stars;
Showdown for Ivy League title set for next week against Harvard
Princeton, NJ - Yale QB Matt Polhemus (5 of 15, 144 yards, 2 TDs) came up with some big plays and the Bulldogs of Yale scored two late TDs to put away a game Princeton squad, 27-6. The score was not indicative of how it was played though as Tiger turnovers early cost them two possible scores. Vaunted Yale RB Matt McCleod came up with 107 yards rushing, but they were difficult yards on 36 carries against a D that never allowed him more than 13 yards on any one run. He came in averaging over 186 yards per game, but QB Matt Polhemus picked up key yards rushing in third down situations to keep Bulldog drives live. He threw for 144 yards including an 80-yard TD pass to WR Chris Denny-Brown (2 catches, 90 yards, 2 TDs) to break a 3-3 tie early in the third quarter. The Tigers fell to 3-6, 2-5. The Yale Elis take their 9-0 record back to New Haven next weekend against arch-rival Harvard with an identical 6-0 Ivy League record into THE GAME for the 2007 Ivy League Championship. CollegeFootballFan.com will be there with a busload of people for this year's Big Tailgate Party. There's a few seats left on the bus leaving Byram Twp., NJ next Saturday morning. Contact us if you're interested!
Princeton honored their Senior players before the game and donning orange jerseys instead of their traditional home black seemed to have the Tigers more ready to play than the undefeated Bulldogs. The Tiger offense roared down the field starting from its own twenty-six to the Yale two to start the game. The Tigers seemed primed to go in, but a mishandled hand-off from QB Bill Foran to WR Adam Berry on an end around was fumbled away and recovered by the Bulldogs on their own thirteen. The first quarter ended on a 0-0 draw as the Tigers held the Yale offense to no yards after its first two possessions.
The Tigers began the second period knocking on the Bulldogs' door as Foran completed a 20-yard pass to WR Will Thanheiser at the Yale nine. From the three, Foran tried to take it in himself, but the ball popped into the air as he got hit running through the line where CB Paul Rice picked it out of the air and returned it to the Princeton forty-three after being tackled from behind by Berry. The Bulldogs capitalized on the turnover with a 43-yard FG by PK Alan Kimball with 10:00 remaining in the first half. The teams continued to exchange punts. From the 46-yard line, PU drove down to the Eli 10 for a first and goal with :32 left. They got as close as the two before losing a yard. PK Connor Louden tied it up with his 20-yarder to make it 3-3 for the halftime score.
The game was typical Ivy League with the Yale Band sarcastically paying tribute to the memory of Armenians back in the 1920's during their pre-game performance. Some people actually stood. During a "media" time-out, the scoreboard showed the updated standings of Princeton's Intramural teams. Before the half ended, Dean Cain, former PU safety who played Superman on a TV series back in the '90s and sat about ten rows below us from our perches above in section 26, posed for pictures with other fans in the section. The Bulldog band paid Beatle tunes during their halftime show, and ten guys from Princeton ran out with blond wigs dressed as women to dance with the Tiger band at the half. It was reminiscent of the cheerleader scene from the original "Longest Yard." But you could not get any more Ivy League when Princeton dedicated its turf as Powers Field. The former Tiger DB and punter, Bill Powers, who graduated in 1979 gave the university athletic department its largest gift ever - $10.5 million! The gift funded the playing surface installation, maintains all Tiger practice fields, creates an endowment for Princeton football, and establishes two financial aid scholarships. He is managing director and senior member of the portfolio management and investment strategy groups of Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO) in Newport Beach, CA.
At the half, Yale totaled only 51 offensive yards. It didn't take the Dogs long to eclipse that number. Fifty-eight seconds into the third period, Polhemus fired a bullet down the middle to Chris Denny-Brown streaking down the field who outraced the Princeton secondary for an 80-yard TD pass. Kimball's extra point gave Yale the 10-3 lead. The score stood through the period, but before it ended, P Ryan Coyle put the Elis on their own one with a 52-yard boot. However, Polhemus got his team out quick with another bullet for twenty-seven yards to WR Jarret Drake to get his team out of the hole.
Nine seconds into the final period, Kimball booted a 40-yard FG to extend the Bulldog lead to 13-3. The Tigers got back to within seven as they countered with Louden's second FG from thirty-one to make it 13-6. On the next Yale drive, Polhemus converted several critical third down plays from out to the pocket as the Tigers continued to hold McLeod to short runs before Polhemus could rip off the bigger runs. At the PU eleven, Polhemus hooked up with Denny-Brown again for a score and a 20-6 lead with 2:30 remaining. Guest Game Analyst Eric Koreivo and I headed to watch the rest of the game from an exit as he was antsy to get going to his own Pee Wee game to be played that evening. Eric had pointed out that as it got colder during the damp, overcast afternoon, even his sneakers turned to a lighter color. One PU fan told us, "It's not over," as we headed down our section stairs. We wished we could believe him, but we went through this experience last year trying to get to a Pee Wee game on time as the Princeton-Penn game went into 2 OTs. QB Jeff Terrell scored on a pitch-back from Rob Toresco for the winning score before Penn's holder mishandled the snap on the extra point when the Quakers went for another tie in OT.
The PU TD became the ESPN play of the day which we watched from the end zone they scored in before we beat the rest of the crowd into the parking lot. Princeton started in the direction of that same end zone from their own twenty-seven, but we headed in the opposite directions since we parked a few blocks north of Princeton Stadium. Yale followed. We watched QB Bill Foran (17 of 27, 177 yards, 2 INTs) telegraph his pass to get picked off by DB Matt Coombs who returned it to the one at corner near where we were standing. We knew the Bulldogs would put McLeod up the middle, and on his second attempt from one, he took it in to finalize the score, 27-6. It was the second time this season that we saw the Tigers play a tight game into the fourth before turnovers did them for an inflated margin.
PU (3-6, 2-5) finishes their season at Dartmouth. Yale goes home with a 9-0, 6-0 Ivy League record to play THE GAME against their arch-rival 7-2, 6-0 Harvard! CollegeFootballFan.com will be there to see the Ivy League championship game of 2007!
Extra Points: What a shame if Yale finishes at 10-0 ranked better than its current rank of #12 and doesn't get to play in the College Championship Subdivision because of stodgy, old Ivy League rules. Every other Ivy League sports champ gets to play in national championship competition! Why not football?
Listening to out of town Ivy scores, it makes one think why the Ivies don't realign their intact, annual schedule to align their final game of the season into more natural rivalries. Besides Yale and Harvard, the other teams don't play what could be more interesting season finales. If they are not playing for anything other than a ten game schedule, at least end them play against a top rival to finish up their seasons. Penn vs. Princeton is already a natural rivalry and would be a better season finale as opposed to when these two play Cornell and Dartmouth respectively. They could make Cornell vs. Columbia the finale between Upstate and New York City. Dartmouth and Brown would be another battle between the two other schools in New England separated only by the state of Massachussettes.