Yale celebrates the 100th anniversary of the historic Yale Bowl this year, but the Bulldogs got off to a rocky start in their stadium’s centennial celebration. In their season-opener Saturday, they fell behind 21-0 to Lehigh early in the opening quarter. Little did they know, they were simply setting the stage for a Yale Bowl first. Their 54-43 come-from-behind win was the biggest of its kind in Yale history.
The defense did its part, stopping the bleeding and coming up with some critical stops, but most of the credit should go to the Bulldogs’ dynamic offense. The up-tempo spread attack ran 85 plays, producing 683 yards of total offense and 31 first downs. Their 54 points were the most Yale scored in a game since they beat Towson 62-28 in 2003.
The options the Bulldogs have on offense seem limitless. Start with Morgan Roberts, who transferred in from Clemson last season and took over the starting quarterback job this year. He played smart and efficient football, completing 30-of-39 passes for 356 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also carried the ball seven times for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Roberts has plenty of weapons to choose from on the outside. Deon Randall, an All-Ivy League pick last season, finished with 13 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for a score as well. There’s also Grant Wallace, who developed a real chemistry with Roberts during the offseason. Wallace had seven catches for 67 yards against Lehigh.
And that’s just the passing game, let’s not forget the rushing attack. Tyler Varga, a native of Canada and an expected high first-round draft choice in the CFL Draft, boasts an effective combination of strength and speed. He dragged defenders to pick up extra yardage Saturday, and finished with 152 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. We knew Varga would be good, but somewhat of a surprise was the play of Candler Rich. Listed as the No. 3 running back on Yale’s depth chart, Rich had 104 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass. Kahlil Keys had just 22 yards on seven carries, but has shown in the past he’s capable of handling a heavy workload too.
Lehigh simply didn’t seem to have an answer for the BR-51 Bulldogs, who seemed to only get better as the game wore on. During the middle of the game, from six minutes remaining in the first quarter until five minutes remaining in the game, Yale scored on nine straight drives.
Sure, the Bulldogs will need their young defense to improve. But if Saturday was any indication of what is to come, 2014 looks to be a promising year in New Haven. They’ll welcome Army to the Yale Bowl this Saturday to see if they can keep up their offensive production and move to 2-0 in their non-conference schedule, something they haven’t done since 2008.