Friday’s win over Richmond meant a little extra to the Yale football team — especially to its seniors.
“It means everything to me,” senior Josh Craig said. “I couldn’t tell you the last time I beat Richmond or had a BWAC win, so it means a lot.”
The Bulldogs defeated the Blue Devils 36-7 Friday night in front of a large home crowd full of energy, picking up their second win of the season to put the team at 2-2. After finishing last year 2-7, Craig and his teammates are optimistic about the future of this fall.
They jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead after junior quarterback Connor Jakubiak punched the ball across the goal line. The second quarter got off to a similar start with an efficient march downfield and a touchdown from senior James Bahr. The Bulldogs would lead 14-0 by the half.
“I felt like we did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” head coach Garrett Grundman said. “If we’re able to move the ball and finish every series, we’re going to see a lot of success. We stalled a little bit midway through the second quarter, but in the second half, we were able to kind of get back some momentum and execute on some drives.”
A large part of that momentum came when Craig snagged an interception 30 seconds into the third quarter. It was his second of the game, quickly running it back 30 yards to the Blue Devil end zone.
“I’ve done it before and it’s my job,” Craig said. “It’s just what I’ve got to do.”
From there Jakubiak settled into his throwing game, completing a pair of touchdown passes to two different teammates: first to Ty LaForest for a 14-yard score, and another 36-yard pass to Jeremy Griffith.
“I feel like we’re all starting to settle in, not just me, but everyone on the team. Everyone’s starting to know their roles and we’re starting to execute more on our roles,” Jakubiak said. “It’s been a lot of fun going out there and playing with our guys…It was a great team win, I’m proud of every one of them.”
Jakubiak finished the night 8-for-15 with 166 passing yards and 25 yards rushing. Bahr tallied 55 rushing yards and junior Ryan Monarch had 70 yards on three receptions.
But as efficient as the Bulldogs offense was, its defense played just as well, holding Richmond scoreless until the final 10 seconds of the game.
“The defense was swarming today. After getting up on them a couple of scores, [Richmond] pinned their ears back and tried throwing the rock,” Grundman said. “Our defense supplied some pressure and threw them out of their offensive rhythm. Hats off to the defense and coach [Nate] Woodard for having the guys ready.”
Bahr led the defense with seven tackles, including two sacks, while senior Timothy McClelland had seven.
The Blue Devils scored late in the game on a five-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Anothony Bonnetti to sophomore Trey Graham, playing until the very end, just as head coach Sean Misko told them.
“I told the guys, ‘The margin is not as big as it would appear. Work on our execution and keep fighting until the very last play and give everything you have every time you can,’” Misko said.
Graham caught 10 of Bonnetti’s passes on the night, leading the Richmond offense with 98 yards, and senior Noah Harris ran for 37 to lead the team on the ground.
Misko said that while Graham’s a “great ballplayer,” developing more “weapons” will be key this season as five starters were missing from Friday’s matchup.
“The biggest thing is keeping our eyes on what we’ve been focusing on all season,” Misko said. “Adversity’s going to hit every single team. We’re down about five starters right now with various injuries and knickknacks, and in games like this, it really shows and it hurts pretty bad.”
The Blue Devils fall to 2-2 overall, 0-2 in the BWAC and will play Imlay City on their home field this week. Yale improves to 2-2, 1-2 in the BWAC and will host Cros-Lex.
"These boys play very hard and they deserve everything. Getting a win at home on senior night is huge. They’re building memories and we’re trying to continue to get better and these boys are improving, so it’s all them," Grundman said. "We’re going to celebrate, but we’ve still got more work to do.”
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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