Football Hosts Cornell on NBC Sports Network
Location: Memorial Field, Hanover, N.H.
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 9 at 4 p.m.
Series Record: Big Green lead 55-40-1
Television: NBC Sports Network (channel finder) — Randy Moss (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (analyst)
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst)
Online Audio: DartmouthSports.com
Online Video: Big Green Insider (restricted to international audience)
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
What Might Have Been
As the Dartmouth Big Green prepares to host Cornell in a game broadcast nationally by NBC Sports Network, they will have thoughts of the 2013 season that might have been with just a lucky break here and there. Dartmouth sports a 3-4 record and 2-2 mark in the league, but three of the four losses are by three points and the other lasted four overtimes.
The Big Green still have an outside shot at a share of the conference crown — what would be their record 18th — but they will need an awful lot of help. Considering that teams with two losses have shared the crown only twice in the 57-season history of Ivy League football, the odds are long indeed.
All Dartmouth can do at this point is win the rest of its games, beginning with the Big Red. In what is the second-longest continuous series amongst FCS teams, having played every year since 1919, the Big Green have the edge over Cornell, 55-40-1, plus have won the last four meetings.
Dartmouth will need a return to form of sophomore quarterback Dalyn Williams to help it in its quest to stay relevant in the league standings. Williams began the season shredding opposing defenses, amassing 347 total yards or more in each of the first three games in 2013. But in the last four, he has averaged 179.5 yards while completing less than half of his passes.
The running game is in good shape, despite senior Dominick Pierre missing a couple of offensive series last week at Harvard. Dartmouth’s second all-time leading rusher (2,411 yards) is expected to be at full strength against a team that has allowed a Big Green player to run for at least 150 yards in each of the last four games in the series.
The receiving corps has been beset with numerous injuries. Sophomore Victor Williams — the team’s leading receiver — is not available, nor is junior Ryan McManus. Also out are freshman Jon Marc Carrier and junior Charlie Storey. What the Green do still have are a big-play receiver in junior Bo Patterson (21 catches, 4 TD), Pierre out of the backfield (19 receptions for 200 yards), and tight ends Cole Marcoux (13-174, 1 TD) and Dean Bakes (9-109, 1 TD).
The defense has played particularly well of late and leads the Ivy League in fewest points allowed and pass efficiency defense. Over the last four games, the opposition has managed less than 270 yards a game. Senior linebacker Michael Runger leads the Big Green with 51 tackles a year after leading the league in stops.
Senior nickelback Mike Banaciski has been a key player as well with 47 tackles, including a team-high 4.5 tackles for a loss and a pair of fumble recoveries. The top pass rusher is sophomore Cody Fulleton who has 40 stops and 2.5 sacks.
Dartmouth is coming off one of those grueling three-point losses, 24-21 at Harvard. The Crimson booted a 23-yard field goal in the final minute to pull out their 10th straight victory over the Big Green. Pierre and sophomore Kyle Bramble each had touchdown runs, while safety Stephen Dazzo returned a fumbled lateral 33 yards for the other score.
Scouting the Big Red
Since defeating Bucknell in its season opener, 45-13, Cornell has dropped six straight contests to fall to 1-6 on the year. Four of those six losses have come against Ivy League teams, dropping the Big Red to 0-4 in league play and into a tie in the basement with Columbia in the Ancient 8.
The offense has not been the problem, ranking right in the middle of FCS schools at more than 27 points a game, with the 2011 Bushnell Cup winner behind center in senior Jeff Mathews. The Payton Award candidate ranks among the top 10 in the nation with just over 330 passing yards per game while completing nearly 64 percent of his throws with 17 touchdowns. But he has had his struggles against the Big Green having been sacked 10 times as a freshman and throwing three interceptions in each of the last two meetings.
Mathews relies heavily on slot receiver Grant Gellatly, who is in the top five in the FCS in both receptions (9.1 per game) and receiving yards (121.6 per game), plus has a team-high six touchdown catches. Lucas Shapiro is a big-play receiver, averaging more than 16 yards per catch with five TDs. Cornell will also turn to Luke Hagy out of the backfield as a receiver, as his 38 receptions can attest.
The running game, however, is practically non-existent as the Big Red rank dead last in the FCS at less than 45 yards per game. And if you take out the 26 sacks, Cornell attempts to run the ball fewer than 20 times every weekend. Hagy leads the team with 215 yards on just 58 attempts, while Mathews has a team-high 61 rushes without breaking even thanks to those sacks at minus-six yards, although he has scored three touchdowns.
The defense has had a difficult time stopping anyone since subduing Bucknell in the season opener, allowing close to 40 points a game. Last week Princeton put 53 on the board against the Big Red, and the Tiger quarterback set an FCS record by completing his first 29 passes of the game.
Inside linebacker Brett Buehler leads the Ivy League with 75 tackles, nearly twice the total of any of his teammates. Cornerback Michael Turner has two of Cornell’s three interceptions, but the defense has recovered 10 fumbles giving the Big Red nearly as many turnovers gained as lost.
On special teams, punter Chris Fraser has the biggest leg in the league, booting the ball nearly 44 yards per punt. Cornell had to switch up its placekicker last month with John Wells being sidelined, and Joe Pierik responded by converting both field goal attempts against Princeton. Boomer Olson is on PAT duty and is perfect in 13 attempts.
David Archer is in his first season as the Roger J. Weiss ’61 Head Coach of Football. A 2005 graduate of Cornell, Archer is the youngest Division I head coach at 31 years of age. He served as an assistant coach at his alma mater for six years, including acting as the recruiting coordinator since 2009. A three-year starter and a senior captain on the offensive line for the Big Red, Archer began his coaching career as an assistant at Fairleigh Dickinson in 2006.
Another Late FG Dooms Dartmouth
When Harvard nipped the Big Green on Nov. 2, 24-21, thanks to a 23-yard field goal with 48 seconds remaining, it marked the second time this year the Green lost on a field goal in the final minute of play. Holy Cross also converted a 23-yarder, but with 51 seconds on the clock, to beat Dartmouth on Sept. 28, 31-28. In the past four seasons, the Green have lost a total of 17 games, nine of which came on winning scores either in the final 90 seconds of regulation or in overtime.
Dazzo-ling Heads Up Play
In the third quarter at Harvard on Nov. 2, the Big Green found themselves trailing, 13-7. But when a Crimson threw a swing pass behind the line of scrimmage, junior safety Stephen Dazzo did not take it for granted that the play was an incomplete pass. Instead, he scooped up the loose ball and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown as the “pass” was actually a lateral. It was the first fumble returned for a touchdown by the Green since Charles Bay ’11 brought one back 39 yards against Columbia in 2009. By the way, the PAT put Dartmouth on top, 14-13, for its first lead against Harvard since going up 7-0 in the first quarter of the game played in 2007.
Pierre Scores Again
Senior Dominick Pierre scored a touchdown for the seventh straight game when he strolled 10 yards into the end zone in the second quarter at Harvard. That gives him 26 rushing TDs in his career, tying him for second at Dartmouth with two others, including former teammate Nick Schwieger ’12. Surprisingly, Schwieger never scored a touchdown on a reception, and neither has Pierre despite catching 47 passes in his career. Yet sophomore running back Kyle Bramble has hauled in two touchdown tosses this season. Anyway, Pierre is also tied for sixth on the all-time scoring list with Schwieger (156 points) and second behind him in career yardage (2,411 yds).
When Dartmouth tossed two interceptions at Harvard on Nov. 2, it doubled the team’s season total to four, which is among the 10 lowest totals in the nation. Going back over the last three seasons, Big Green QBs have thrown just 16 interceptions, a total bested by just three others teams — Cal Poly (11), The Citadel (15) and Wofford (15) — while two-time defending national champion and top-ranked North Dakota State has 16 as well.