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Elis open Ivy defense in Ithaca

Yale looked very much like they were prepared to mount a solid defense of their 2017 Ivy League football title, but fell victim to some sloppy second-half play as they were stung in overtime by underdog Holy Cross, 31-28, in their season opener at historic Fitton Field in Worcester, MASS.

The last time Holy Cross defeated the Elis was in 2005.

The Crusaders gave first-year coach Bob Chesney his first career win, having previously lost to Colgate (24-17) and Boston College (62-14).

The Elis, who scored all their points in the first half, squandered leads of 21-0 and 28-14 with multiple chances to put the game away in the second half, but penalties prevented the Bulldogs (0-1) from defeating the Crusaders (1-2).

“We had a lot of first-game mistakes, including the penalties and it was the big plays the penalties prevented,” said Yale Coach Tony Reno in postgame remarks.

Yale’s Melvin Rouse opened the contest by taking the opening kickoff 100 yards to the house to give the Elis a quick 7-0 lead.  Rouse tied the Yale kickoff return record, which was set by Kenny Hill in 1978, when Hill set the mark against Cornell.

Alan Lamar, JJ Howland and Reed Klubnik scored the other Yale touchdowns while sophomore running back Zane Dudek, the 2017 Ivy Rookie of the Year and 2018 preseason All American candidate, rushed for a career-high 217 yards on 22 carries.

Ryan Burke led the Bulldog defense with 11 tackles but Reno needs to be concerned about a defense that relinquished 31 points against Holy Cross.

The Bulldogs will open defense of its Ivy title on Saturday, Sept. 22, when they hit the road to face the Cornell Big Red (3 p.m.).

The Big Red (0-1), a team clearly in transition, was soundly defeated last week by Delaware, 27-10. Davy Lizana, who caught a scoring pass from Cornell quarterback Austin Holmes, accounted for the lone touchdown in the loss to the Blue Hens.

Yale, which has defeated the Big Red in six of the last 10 contests, leads the series 48-30-2. The series began on Oct. 16, 1889, with Walter Camp coaching the Bulldogs to a 60-6 win at the Yale Bowl. The game will air (3 p.m.) on the Yale Football Radio Network (ESPN Radio AM-1300 and AM 960) with Ron Vacarro and Jack Siedlecki on the call.


Last year Yale cruised to a 49-24 win over Cornell at the Bowl.

The Big Red defense will have their hands full attempting to game plan for Dudek’s ground assault. Expect the Bulldogs to address the penalties and make improvements on the defensive side.

FINAL: Yale 42 Cornell 13


Dartmouth, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and Penn opened the season on the winning side of the ledger.

The Ivy Players of the Week were: Aaron Shampklin (offense) Harvard, Isiah Swann (defense) Dartmouth, Jack Soslow (special teams) Penn and Dante Miller (rookie) Columbia.

The Ivy League’s six-game national television package, featuring all eight Ivy League programs, will kick off on Friday, Sept. 21, when Brown (0-1) hosts Harvard (1-0). The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

In addition to Yale at Cornell, Saturday’s lineup has Dartmouth at Holy Cross (1 p.m.), Columbia at Georgetown (2 p.m.), Lehigh at Penn (3 p.m.) and Monmouth at Princeton (4:30 p.m.).

Dudek’s 217 yards rushing against Holy Cross are 10th best on the Yale all-time list.

Yale will celebrate the life of legendary Hall of Fame Coach Carm Cozza, who passed away earlier this year, on Nov. 10 at the Yale Bowl before the Princeton game.

Looking way ahead to a game that may have Ivy League title implications, Yale and Harvard will play the 135th meeting of THE GAME on Nov. 17 in Fenway Park. If you are looking for tickets you are out of luck as the game sold out within days of the announcement!

Follow Bob for all the Yale football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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