The Yale football team came back in the second half to secure a 29–9 victory over Bucknell, their final non-conference opponent.
The Yale football team (4–1, 2–0 Ivy) prevailed in a game against Bucknell (0–6, 0–2 Patriot) on Oct. 15.
The Bulldogs (4–1, 2–0 Ivy) fought for a comeback after they faced an early deficit against Bucknell (0–6, 0–2 Patriot). Yale eventually dominated the game in the second half, and ultimately won 29–9. The Bulldogs outscored the Bison in front of a crowd of 3,995 at the Yale Bowl, who were happy to watch the home team secure their fourth consecutive win of the season.
“I’m really proud [of] how we anchored down midway through the third quarter and did something we really hadn’t done this year, and that was put a team away,” head coach Tony Reno said to Yale Athletics. “It’s hard to win football games, and I’m really happy with how the guys finished the game.”
Just over seven minutes into the first quarter, Bison running back Rushawn Baker rushed 75 yards up the middle, which set up kicker Matt Schearer for a 39-yard field goal, the first of his career, to give Bucknell a 3–0 advantage.
After failing to score in the first quarter, wide receiver David Pantelis ’25 — who finished with eight receptions for 106 yards in the contest — hauled in a 13-yard pass from quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 to score the Bulldogs’ first touchdown of the game with just over three minutes left in the half. The reception was a part of a 12-play, 97-yard drive.
“This game was a great team win,” offensive lineman and captain Nick Gargiulo ’23 said. “A lot of young players took advantage of opportunities to play.”
Over four minutes into the second half, Grooms made a nine-yard run into the end zone to elevate Yale’s lead to 14–3. Over the course of the game, Grooms led the offense, rushing for 95 yards and completing 19 passes on 33 attempts for 209 yards.
Under four minutes later, Bucknell attempted to push back. Baker, who rushed for a total of 113 yards during the matchup, as his 15-yard rush contributed to a 55-yard Bison touchdown drive. After the score, Bucknell failed on their two-point conversion attempt.
“[The Bulldogs] forced some turnovers, which is great [and] they were stopping a very good rushing attack,” Bucknell head coach Dave Cecchini said to Bucknell Athletics.
With 56 seconds left in the third quarter, a heavy pass rush caused Bison quarterback Ethan Grady, who was 13-for-26 on pass attempts for 102 yards, to take an intentional grounding penalty in the Bucknell end zone.
Because the penalty occurred in the end zone, it resulted in a safety that gave Yale a 16–9 lead and possession of the ball.
“What we did from the middle of the third quarter on was we scored, we stopped them, we scored, we stopped them, we stopped them again,” Reno said. “We were [then] in victory formation.”
Despite Bison cornerback Gavin Pringle intercepting the first play of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs saw great success in the final frame of the game. With 7:46 left, Grooms ran for a 14-yard score to cap off a 90-yard drive, and kicker Jack Bosman ’24 added the extra point.
Grooms struck again less than four minutes later with another touchdown on a 21-yard run. Grooms closed out the game with a total of four touchdowns, rushing for three and throwing for one.
“The offense was able to sustain drives at key moments in the game to secure a victory,” Gargiulo said. “The defense was able to re-establish the line of scrimmage and hold them to nine points.”
Over the course of the game, the offense tallied a total of 433 yards, compared to Bucknell’s 260. The Bulldogs had a total of 224 rushing yards, while the Bison only racked up 158, 123 of which were in the first quarter.
Running back Tre Peterson ’24 added on to Grooms’ contributions in the ground game racking up 84 total rushing yards. The performance builds on a strong season for Peterson, who was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the week on Oct. 10 after he rushed a total of 173 yards and scored a touchdown on 28 rushing attempts in Yale’s win over Dartmouth last week.
Yale’s defense also had a strong performance — defensive back Inumidun Ayo-Durojaiye ’25 led the defense with 10 tackles and linebacker Hamilton Moore ’23 added nine more one game after earning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors. Defensive lineman Clay Patterson ’24 also added six tackles and a sack.
The remainder of Yale’s season will be exclusively against Ivy League teams, first facing the undefeated Penn Quakers (5–0, 2–0 Ivy), who are coming off a 34–14 win over Columbia (3–2, 0–2 Ivy) last Saturday.
“We need to continue to get better as we approach league play,” Gargiulo said. “[We are] looking forward to our Ivy League matchup with Penn this weekend.”
The Bulldogs will look to snap Penn’s winning streak at Franklin Field in Philadelphia next Saturday at 1 p.m.