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Based on the photo and the description of Yale placing the ball on the ground before the goal-from-field during open play, I assume they were playing with a round soccer like ball.

I also read years ago that pre-1876, a goal from the field (field goal) wasn't even permitted, that the try-at-goal after a touchdown was the only way to score, though I haven't found much else about this since the rules during that era are murky.

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