FCS Football News
Yale survives three OTs to beat Penn
By David Coulson, FCS Executive Editor
Philadelphia (Sports Network) - Jack Siedlecki and his Yale Bulldogs didn't care how they won on Saturday afternoon at historic Franklin Field. They were just glad to leave town with a 26-20 triple-overtime victory over Penn in Ivy League play.
Mike McLeod was given credit for breaking the plane of the goal line to put the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs in front in a tense, third overtime and the Yale defense made a goal line stand after Penn earned a 1st-and-goal from the one.
Replays from the YES Network appeared to show McLeod had been down before the ball crossed the goal line on his game-winning touchdown.
The third extra period became more controversial when officials took away tailback Jon Sandberg's second touchdown pass of the game by flagging an ineligible lineman downfield on 4th-and-goal from the one.
The quick-thinking Sandberg (34 carries, 110 yards) had seen the sweep he was running was doomed for failure when he saw a pair of receivers open in the end zone and fired a pass to fullback Nick Cisler in the end zone.
After the five-yard penalty, Penn had one final chance to tie it from the Yale six, but Bryan Walker's end zone pass went off the hands of Braden Lepisto to end a game before 15,668 fans that lasted nearly four hours.
Yale cornerback Casey Gerald made enough of a play on Lepisto to disrupt the completion and then looked for a flag, hoping he hadn't hit the Penn receiver too soon. Seeing none, Gerald collapsed in the end zone for a few moments before being mobbed by his teammates, who came racing over from the sideline.
"You're so exhausted, you can't get hyped up," said Yale noseguard Brandt Hollander. "You just play with what you have left."
It was the second straight year that Yale (6-0, 3-0) had beaten Penn (2-4, 1-2) in overtime.
McLeod (35 carries, 147 yards, three TDs) gave Yale the lead midway through the first period when he raced 46 yards for a touchdown, one play after Paul Rice intercepted a Walker pass.
But the Bulldogs would find hard to score again for the rest of regulation.
"It was just a hard, hard, physical game," said Siedlecki. "It was like pulling teeth from the offensive standpoint."
The two teams traded missed field goals before Penn tied the score on Sandberg's nine-yard option pass to Josh Koontz with 2:13 left in the half.
Andrew Samson, getting a great hold from Lepisto on a bouncing snap, drilled a 43-yard field goal to give the Quakers a 10-7 lead four minutes into the second half.
Penn's defense came up big by dodging three more turnovers in the second half, including a Walker fumble that was forced by Yale's Joe Hathaway and recovered by Brady Hardy at the Quaker 18 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With the Penn fans barely finishing up the third-quarter toast toss in the stands, the Quaker threw McLeod for a three-yard loss on a 3rd-and-3 counter to force Alan Kimball's 31-yard, game-tying field goal.
Neither team could come close to scoring the rest of regulation as they went to overtime tied at 10.
McLeod smashed over from the two after Matt Polhemus (16-of-28 for 159 yards and two interceptions) had hit Chris Denny-Brown with a 21-yard pass on the first of overtime.
Penn matched that score when Walker found Marcus Lawrence on a slant in the back of the end zone as the two teams went to overtime No. 2 tied at 17.
The squads matched field goals in the second overtime, but not without some stomach-churning moments for Yale.
With Kimball lining up for a 23-yard field goal attempt, the snap sailed high before holder Richard Scudellari got the ball down. With the timing of the kick ruined, Kimball calmly double clutched with his right leg and punched the ball softly through the uprights to make it a 20-all game.
"You have to give credit to Alan to have the awareness to just punch it through from that distance," Siedlecki said.
Another connection from Polhemus to Denny-Brown for 20 yards on the first play of the third overtime putting the Bulldogs in scoring position again with a first down at the five. McLeod pounded the ball four yards to the one and then was credited with the touchdown after being stacked up on second down.
On the ensuing two-point conversion try, disaster nearly struck for Yale when Polhemus' bootleg pass was read by defensive tackle Tom Stone. Polhemus' throw was right into the hands of the big lineman with nothing but open field ahead of him, but Stone knocked the ball down rather than trying to intercept and return the ball for a two-point defensive conversion.
A defensive holding call and a seven-yard third-down conversion by Walker to Koontz gave the Quakers a first down on the one, but runs by Sandberg, Cisler and Sandberg again were stymied to set up those two fourth-down plays.
"We had opportunities," said Penn coach Al Bagnoli. "We just made a few too many mistakes. We created a lot of our own headaches. They made one more play than we did."
In this defensive struggle, Hart led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles and Kyle Hawari added 10. Matt Combs, Steven Santoro and Rice had interceptions.
Cornerback Tyson Maugle led Penn with 10 tackles and an interception, while safety Patrick Kimener was outstanding as a run stopper with eight. Chris Wynn also added an interception.
"It's a great win for us to win and go 3-0," said Siedlecki. "But we've got a long way to go."
10/21 00:12:39 ET