New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Patterson pacing the Yale defense

- By Michael Fornabaio

Still a business trip, Yale’s visit to the Lehigh Valley was a bit of a respite in a tough early-season stretch of football.

The Bulldogs outgained Lehigh 420-146 on Saturday in a 34-0 win. They sacked the beleaguere­d 0-5 Mountain Hawks eight times, half of them by Clay Patterson in the game’s final 20 minutes.

That’s twice the sack total that Patterson, a sophomore defensive lineman, had in his varsity career before Saturday, and the other two had both come a week before against Cornell. He had five other solo tackles on Saturday, including one for a loss. The Ivy League named him its Defensive Player of the Week.

“Clay came in as a defensive end, and he had this huge period of time where he really gained a ton of strength. (He’s) super-athletic,” Yale coach Tony Reno said.

“Then he became a guy who could really be a force for us as an interior defensive lineman, really took off his freshman year in 2019.”

Then, Reno said, he was the hardest guy to block on a kickoff.

This year, “he presents a lot of issues for guys, because his athleticis­m is — not many interior defensive linemen that have that athleticis­m,” Reno said. “A lot of them are bigger, stronger guys but don’t have the side to side movement.”

Patterson, from Frisco, Texas, said the game plan was sound and the defense played it well on Saturday.

He had sacks on back-toback plays late in the third quarter, pushing the Mountain Hawks back from the Yale 21 to the 34. He had two more late, including one on fourth down from the Yale 11.

“For the D line, we do a lot of movement and stuff, especially on third down,” Patterson said, “so we have different guys, whether it be the ends or the interior guys, working to get other people open. That person open on the play is going to make the play.”

The handy victory at Lehigh gave Reno and staff a chance to rest some players — linebacker Micah Awodiran and defensive end Oso Ifesinachu­kwu were among those who didn’t play — and give others more time than usual. Nolan Grooms took over full-time at quarterbac­k in the second quarter up 14-0, and though Griffin O’Connor appeared to get up from a third-down sack in a bit of discomfort on his last play, Reno said O’Connor was fine and the team just wanted to give Grooms some time.

The next Yale play on the next series was a 57-yard touchdown pass from Grooms to Mason Tipton.

Not only hasn’t Lehigh scored a touchdown, it has only been to the red zone five times in its five losses.

Things should be a little different on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H. Dartmouth (3-0, 1-0) has scored 100 points in three wins over Valparaiso, Sacred Heart and Penn.

Derek Kyler has six touchdown passes; he had one two years ago in a 42-10 Dartmouth win, Yale’s only 2019 defeat as the two teams shared the Ivy League championsh­ip.

“He’s very efficient as a passer, has great feet, puts the ball where it needs to be, understand­s their offense their scheme really well,” Reno said. “We’ve got to do a great job of eliminatin­g those opportunit­ies for him with his feet and with his arms.”

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