Still rebuilding

The football team improved this year, but hopes of finally beating Harvard were dashed early in The Game.

John Sullivan ’14 is a former sports editor of the Yale Daily News.

The season began with great promise. Yale had been picked to finish seventh in the Ivy League after last season’s 2–8 record, yet it opened the 2013 campaign with three straight wins. The highlight: a 24–10 upset victory at Cal Poly, which was then ranked No. 18 in the nation. The numbers fell as the months went on, but still, the Elis would finish with a respectable 5–5 overall record. They would also raise their Ivy record to 3–4, posting two more wins over the previous season.

All the high hopes for the 130th playing of The Game, however, came to a bitter end on a frigid Saturday at the Yale Bowl. The Bulldogs fell behind 31–0 before stumbling to a 34–7 defeat, their seventh straight loss to Harvard. “We did not play as well as we could have in the first half,” head coach Tony Reno said in the postgame news conference. “We got ourselves in a big hole.”

The Crimson offense came roaring out of the gates, and Yale could find no answer for sophomore running back Paul Stanton, who scored on each of the first four drives to put Harvard up 28–0 only 25 minutes into the game. Meanwhile, a Yale offense that has been hobbled by injuries at key positions all season was set back almost as soon as they stepped on the field. Wide receiver Chris Smith ’14 was injured on the opening kickoff and never came back to the game. All-Ivy running back Tyler Varga ’15, who had been out since week five, was back for action—but after only two drives and five carries, he too was forced to return to the bench after aggravating a foot sprain.

The score remained 28–0 going into halftime, but Yale showed that it still had some fight left in it coming out of the break. After the Crimson kicked a field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, quarterback Henry Furman ’14 marched the Bulldogs down the field and wide receiver Deon Randall ’15 got Yale onto the scoreboard with a three-yard touchdown run. “We’re a very young football team,” Reno said. “At halftime I told them, ‘This can go two ways’. We came out in the second half and it was 7–6 Yale.”

In his second year at the helm of the Yale program, Reno believes this team showed the promise of what is to come. “I think the kids showed resiliency as we take this next step forward toward building Yale football,” Reno said after The Game. “It was a big step to get to .500 this year, and we did that.”

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