Just over two years ago, Kurt Rawlings, a then John Carroll senior quarterback, was celebrating with his team, an MIAA B Conference football championship and an undefeated football season.
Two weeks ago, Rawlings and his Yale University football teammates, celebrated a 24-3 win over Harvard University and the Ivy League championship.
The Bulldogs have shared titles, but this was the first outright Ivy League title for Yale since 1980 and Rawlings was the sophomore quarterback guiding the Bulldogs.
“It was a good year, but for me, I know I have a ton of work to do. I find myself missing throws that I make all the time, so the year moves on I’ll keep striving for perfection,” Rawlings said Tuesday from the campus. “Keep bettering myself and make myself better and hopefully as a team, we keep getting better as well. Everybody’s job on the team is to better themselves. It’s a great season for us, but it’s nothing we want to dwell on, too, long, I mean we have work to do.”
Rawlings had a lot of work to do this season. He was the quarterback in all 10 Yale games, leading the team to an 9-1 overall record.
Rawlings numbers speak for themselves. Over 10 games, he completed 189-of-281 pass attempts for 2,320 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was intercepted six times.
Yale opened the season at Lehigh, winning big, 56-28, and Rawlings had a big day. He threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns.
Rawlings threw for a career-best 316 yards in the Bulldogs’ 32-0 win over Holy Cross and he added 304 more passing yards in the 35-31 win at Princeton. Rawlings threw two touchdowns in each game.
“The fact that our team was able to accomplish something that hadn’t been done in so long was just a really cool feeling,” Rawlings said. “A really awesome thing to to do for ...this university does awesome things for us...it’s pretty cool that we were able to bring a little championship and celebration back to this great university.”
The Bulldogs lone blemish on the season came at Dartmouth, a stinging 28-27 loss in week four. Rawlings threw three touchdown passes, but was also picked off twice. “Unfortunately, we had a loss. That was a game we all would like to have back and that’s something, that moving forward, hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” Rawlings said. “For this team, the standards we set, we should have won that game as well as ended with an undefeated season. But definitely an awesome season and you can’t take anything away from that, but there is always something to work forward to and look forward to in the year to come.”
Rawlings got his first taste of being a college quarterback late last year, his freshman season. Rawlings was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his play in Yale’s 21-14 win at Harvard. Rawlings also threw three touchdowns in leading a win over Columbia, earning him Rookie of the Week honors again.
“Last year I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go in against Columbia and then finish out the last three games of the season,” Rawlings said.
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His performance certainly played in his favor as the new season approached. “Throughout the spring, it’s always an open competition. You can have a great week of practice and get moved up and you can have a bad week of practice and get moved down,” Rawlings said. “They’re always looking to play the best players, because everybody that comes into college is a great athlete and a great player.”
So, Rawlings was at Yale for a few weeks in July, working on his game, “getting tuned in with the receivers.”
“They named me starter going into the camp. It was really good, I guess, to help me with my confidence and knowing that I’d be going into the season as a starter even before camp,” Rawlings said. “That just really helped me, knowing that the coaches had their full trust in me and that they wanted me to go forth with the season. It just helped we with my play, being able to play free, not worry about making mistakes in camp, they just let me play my style of play.”
Rawlings is appreciative of where he is and what he has accomplished, but it’s not just about him. “The awesome thing about having this opportunity is being able to play with the great guys that surround me,” he said. “To be around some of these seniors that only have a year left, being able to be on the field with them was definitely an awesome experience.”
Playing for Yale and in the Ivy League means no bowl game for Rawlings and his teammates. “I guess they want us to focus on academics,” he said with a chuckle. “They want the Yale-Harvard game to be the last game anyone plays. That’s the last weekend of football for us, so no bowl games.”
Rawlings is okay with that. “No matter how your season is going, the Yale-Harvard game is always a bowl game. It’s certainly an awesome tradition for both universities and to be able to play for one of them, to represent the school is really a blessing, it’s awesome. It’s a short season, but a long, hard season.”
Rawlings is also thankful for the support from family, John Carroll School and folks from Harford County. “My whole family was there for the Harvard game and my dad and my mom (Keith and Kathy) didn’t miss a game,” Rawlings said. “I’m so blessed, so thankful for such an amazing family.”