Sunday, October 23, 2016

Friday Night Lights in New Haven

Yale hosted Penn, Oct. 21, in New Haven. It was the Yale Bowl's "first official" night game. (YWAA photos)
The Yale Bowl, Yale's football home for 102 years now, experienced a first-time moment Friday, Oct. 21. For all its storied history and for all the legends who played on the rugged grassy turf, a night football game had never been played (from start to end) under the lights.

For those who wish to challenge that fact, last year's Harvard-Yale game started under a cold, blaring sun. By the second half, Yale officials turned on mobile lights.  So it was the Yale Bowl's first game with lights, but it wasn't the first official night game.

The first official night game--with the four totem-pole light systems turned on from opening kick-off to final snap--was this month's Yale-Penn Ivy League contest.

The night was festive. The rays of lights were bright.  The field was gleaming green with blue trimmings. The air was as comfortable as it could be for late October. No one complained. Yale officials invited the town, staff, and local officials, making it a New Haven event and offering plenty of free tickets and fanfare in the tailgate areas.

Unfortunately students were on mid-term break, and rain had been a threat all day.  A crowd of only 8,700--quite low by historic Yale Bowl standards--turned out. In good times, a Yale-Penn game in New Haven attracts 18,000 fans.

Yale's football struggles this fall are partly to blame. Despite the run-pass talents of Yale's sophomore quarterback Tre' Moore '19, Penn whipped Yale, 42-7; it could've been worst. Yale fell to 1-5.

Yale fans didn't hustle to the exits as quickly as they could have.  Most were still in the stands at game's end, taking advantage of a night of history and enjoying the last few days of being outdoors in light sweaters.  And hoping the team could manage at least one touchdown. Moore tossed a touchdown pass late.

(In most years, Westchester has a presence on the roster.  This year's team doesn't have a Westchester player.)

With all Yale football teams every year, there's always a pinch of hope to rescue the season. A win over Harvard by "Team 114" (the athletic department's term for this year's squad) up in Boston in November will turn any forgettable season into something very special. Just like that.

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