Football Shocker: Raiders Upset After Yale Comeback

If there is one thing the football team’s 31-28 loss to Yale on Saturday showed the team and its fans, it’s that some of last year’s on-field magic may be gone. Last season, the Raiders scored 52 points in a 12-point win over Yale on Homecoming weekend. A year ago, the Raiders consistently came through in close games, with last-minute wins over Cornell and Georgetown on their way to an undefeated regular season. On Saturday, the Yale Bulldogs were the ones performing last-minute heroics, as they came back from a 14-point deficit in the final five minutes to stun the Raiders, 31-28, at the Yale Bowl. Bulldog kicker Andrew Sullivan’s 37-yard field goal attempt split the uprights as time expired to send the Raiders back to Hamilton with their second loss of the young season. The Raiders struck first in the game when senior quarterback Chris Brown connected with classmate DeWayne Long for a 35-yard score, the first of two Long touchdowns on the day. Long and senior tri-captain Luke Graham, who combined for 120 receiving yards on 10 catches against Yale, have become one of the more formidable wide receiver combinations in Division I-AA thanks to Long’s emergence this year as a deep threat. Head coach Dick Biddle called Long and Graham “very good receivers who give the quarterback two great options on offense.” One option the Raiders can always count on is senior tailback Jamaal Branch, who accounted for Colgate’s other two touchdowns as he led the Raider ground attack with 130 yards on 31 carries. It was Branch’s 16th career 100-yard performance, tying him for second in school history. Branch’s first score, a three-yard plunge, gave the Raiders a 14-7 lead going into halftime. Yale came charging back on its first possession of the third quarter when Bulldog quarterback Alvin Cowan hit Alex Faherty for a 14-yard score. Brown answered later in the quarter by connecting with Long again, this time from six yards out. On the Raiders’ next possession, Brown led a 12-play, 85-yard drive, capped by Branch’s 5-yard touchdown run. Holding a 14-point lead with 9:12 left in the game, Colgate appeared to have the game in hand. But Yale mounted a furious comeback in the game’s final minutes. Cowan started the surge with a seven-yard touchdown pass with 4:47 left in the game. Two plays after the Raiders got the ball back on offense, Brown threw a costly interception that gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Raider 46-yard line. Biddle showed no regrets about calling a deep pass with the lead late in the game instead of sticking to the run. “We can’t second-guess ourselves and be scared to call a pass in that situation,” he said. Cowan again went to work on the Raider defense, engineering a 46-yard drive and throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the game to tie the score at 28. “They made big plays in critical situations,” Biddle said of Yale’s late-game offensive explosion. “They stayed with the game plan and were able to keep us off-balance by running the ball.” The Yale defense forced the Raiders to punt on its ensuing possession and Yale drove down the field yet again, this time to Colgate’s 20-yard line to set up Sullivan’s game-winning field goal. The loss was Colgate’s second in two away games this year. But Biddle does not attribute the team’s lack of road success to playing away from Hamilton. “We just haven’t been doing some things at the end of the game,” Biddle said. “It’s not about home or away.” Colgate squares off against Princeton tomorrow at Andy Kerr Stadium at 1 p.m. in this year’s Homecoming game. Having narrowly escaped with a win against Dartmouth in their home opener, the Raiders are wary of Ivy League squads. “We’ll find out on Saturday [if we’re ready to go],” Biddle said. “We’re going to step up and play hard and try to come out with a win.” Some of that old Raider magic wouldn’t hurt either.