They came to see a football game on Saturday. What they got was more like a modern version of a shootout at the OK Corral.
Senior Tyler Varga, the 5-11 tailback from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, had a career day, rushing for five touchdowns—including the winning score in overtime—to lead Yale to a come-from-behind 49-43 upset over Army before 34,142 fans at the Yale Bowl on Saturday. It was the first time the Bulldogs have stopped the Cadets since midway through the Eisenhower Administration.
Last week, the Eli’s fought back from two 21-point deficits to Lehigh en route to a 54-43 victory. This week, Yale dug itself a 14-point hole before storming back.
The Cadets broke on the board first on their second possession of the game when fullback Larry Dixon took it over from the three, capping a 57-yard drive. The point after by Daniel Grochowski gave Army a 7-0 lead with 3:28 remaining in the first period.
The Bulldogs came right back—thanks in part to a successful fourth-and-one first down run by Varga at the 50. Yale benefited from a pass interference call on third-and-eight, keeping the drive alive. Junior quarterback Morgan Roberts took it in from the 13, After the PAT by Kyle Cazzetta, the game was knotted at 7-7 with seven ticks remaining in the quarter.
Army scored with 6:06 left until intermission on 22-yard pass from A.J. Schurr to Edgar Poe (and yes, his middle name is Allan … seriously) and another successful point after by Grochowski. That gave the Cadets a 14-7 cushion.
Then, with just over two minutes left until halftime, Varga scored his first touchdown of the game, punching it over from the two and capping a 11-play, 70-yard drive that lasted 3:47. After Cazzetta’s kick, the game was once again knotted, this time at 14, as the teams headed into their respective locker rooms at intermission.
A wild and wooly third quarter ensued (see the earlier reference to the OK Corral) with a total of 37 points scored. That would make for a high-scoring game, never mind one quarter.
Army scored twice—the first time on a pick-six by defensive back Jeremy Timpf who picked off a Roberts pass and raced 45 yards to paydirt. The second Cadet score came on a 53-yard jaunt by back-up quarterback Angel Santiago followed by a successful two-point conversion.
In the third, the Cadet “D” scored first when defensive back Jeremy Timpf picked off a Morgan Roberts pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. The kick was good, and Army led 21-14 with 13:32 left in the third stanza.
Yale answered with three touchdowns of its own in the third—scoring runs of 15 and 18 yards by Varga and a 22-yard pass from Roberts to freshman wideout Ross Drwal. The Elis also put a successful two-point conversion on the board after Varga’s 15 yard jaunt.
And once again the score was tied, this time 36-36, headed into the fourth quarter.
A 75-yard scamper by Army’s Aaron Kemper followed by a one-yard plunge by Santiago and successful point after put the Cadets back up by seven three seconds into the final frame.
The score held at 43-36 Army until just 1:42 remained in regulation when Varga scored his third touchdown of the game. After the PAT, it was 43-all. Overtime, here we come!
Army had the ball first in the overtime period, but the Yale “D” was up to the task, holding the Cadets scoreless on their first possession after Grochowski shanked a 25-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Yale took the ball on the 25 and ran the ball six straight times—culminating in a three-yard touchdown run by Varga to win the game.
“For the second week in a row, it wasn’t pretty, but the perseverance of these guys came through,” said Yale head coach Tony Reno. “We continue to follow the process, taking it one play at a time. This is an incredible group of young men that has limitless potential.”
The Bulldogs picked up 625 total yards with Roberts completing 23 of 40 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown. He also added 67 yards rushing. Were it not for Varga’s record-breaking performance, Roberts would most certainly have been Yale’s offensive star of the day.
“Morgan has done a great job of spreading the ball out, getting it to playmakers,” continued Reno, “and our offensive line has been incredible.”
Varga, meanwhile, was named National Player of the Week by collegesportsmadness.com for his explosive performance. Varga, who ranks second among FCS players with 168 yards per game, was featured on Saturday’s ESPN College Football Final show as well as on Sunday’s NFL Primetime. He scored 30 of Yale’s 49 points while rushing for 185 yards. His five scores tied the Yale mark set by Joe Crowley (1931 vs. St. John’s (Maryland) and Mike McLeod (2007 vs. Holy Cross). He helped the Elis to a school-record 36 first downs in the Ivy League’s first win over an FBS opponent since 1986.
But after the game, Varga was quick to downplay on his own incredible day, instead pointing out the team’s overall performance.
“This was really a team effort,” said Varga. “The offensive line blocked incredibly for all the backs … This is a product of a serious team effort. The defense stopped them when it counted.”
With the win, Yale improves to 2-0 and prepares to hit the road for the first time this season when they will travel to Ithaca, NY to take on 0-2 Cornell in the Ivy League opener for both schools.