Location: Franlkin Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m.
Series Record: Quakers lead 46-32-2
Online Video: Big Green Insider
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst)
Online Audio: DartmouthSports.com
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Climbing the Ivy
The Ivy season begins with a showdown between the two teams that own the most conference titles. Dartmouth, the 17-time champion of the Ancient Eight, will do its best to keep Penn, the defending champion and winner of 16 overall crowns, from equaling that total. The Quakers have certainly had the Big Green’s number of late, winning 14 of the last 15 meetings.
All 15 of those games were the first conference game of the season, meaning Dartmouth has begun all but one of the last 15 campaigns playing catch-up with the rest of the league. But each of the last four contests has been hotly contested being decided by a single score.
Speaking of games decided by one score, the Big Green are coming off a heartbreaking, 31-28 defeat in their home opener against Holy Cross. Dartmouth did not trail throughout the game until the final minute when the Crusaders converted a 23-yard field goal with 51 seconds to play for the final difference.
The Big Green offense put up some impressive numbers again, led by quarterback Dalyn Williams. The sophomore amassed 360 total yards — 273 through the air, 87 on the ground — the 10th most in Dartmouth history. In fact, he has posted a top-25 total yardage in each of the last three games. And as a team, the Green amassed 496 yards, just one less than the week before in the win at Butler.
For the second straight week, Dartmouth had a 100-yard rusher, this time senior Dominick Pierre with 124 yards on just 18 carries. Just that one game vaulted him six spots on the Big Green all-time rushing list, from 10th to fourth with 1,791 yards. Another 209 yards and he will be the third player in school history to amass 2,000 on the ground.
Sophomore Victor Williams once again tied for the team lead in receptions, snaring five for 77 yards. But it was junior Bo Patterson who stole the spotlight with his five catches for 78 yards, including two terrific touchdown receptions with a defender draped on him in the end zone.
Although the defense played well early, limiting Holy Cross to little more than 100 yards over the first 28 minutes of action, the Crusaders finished the night with 525. The last team to pile up that many yards was New Hampshire four years prior in a 44-14 Big Green defeat. If Dartmouth had managed to win the game, it would have been just the sixth win in the past 40 years when yielding at least 500 yards.
Last year, Penn got the best of the Big Green in a game televised by NBC Sports Network, 28-21. The visiting Quakers jumped out to a 20-0 lead by the half before Dartmouth nearly overcame the deficit in the second stanza. Park, who threw for 279 yards with two touchdowns and no picks, heaved a 31-yard scoring strike and Pierre broke free for a 33-yard TD, but the Green could not get any closer.
For Penn, Billy Ragone was an efficient 14-of-18 passing for 165 yards and ran for 60 more to help the Quakers stave off Dartmouth. If it seems like Ragone has been around forever, it may be because this is the fifth year he will have played against the Big Green. He has never lost to Dartmouth.
Scouting the Quakers
As it seems most years, Penn lost its last game in a 35-6 trouncing by Villanova, which is ranked among the top-20 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Perhaps a better indicator of the Quakers’ talent came in the 27-21 opening-day win over Lafayette, even though Penn nearly lost a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Billy Ragone is back for a fifth year, but the Quakers have not fully unleashed him after he suffered an injury late last year. He is throwing the ball well, completing 62 percent of his passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns. But his running game — one that has been difficult for Dartmouth to contain in years past — has been mostly grounded with just one yard on nine carries.
His favorite target, Connor Scott, has twice as many catches as the next Quaker with 16 for 176 yards. Scott also has a Dartmouth connection as his older brother, Tanner, received All-Ivy recognition in 2010 at wide receiver.
The running game, which normally slices up defenses, has had its share of troubles. No less than 10 players have carried the ball at least once for Penn, yet they amassed an average of just 60.0 yards, which ranks among the bottom five figures in the FCS. Only Brandon Colavita has even 25 yards to his name, taking the ball 26 times for 76 yards (2.9 avg.).
On the other side of the ball, an imposing linebacker in Dan Davis (6-3, 245) anchors the defense that has yielded close to 400 yards per game. He has 11 tackles (10 solo) with three going for a loss. In the defensive backfield, Evan Jackson has an even 10 stops and one of the Quakers’ two interceptions.
Special teams have been a bit uneven thus far with Penn converting just 2-of-5 field goals and punting for an average of 36.5 yards, with one of each being blocked. Dan Wilk and Mason Smith have shown great prowess in returning kickoffs, however, as the Quakers average more than 23 yards per return, among the top 25 in FCS.
Penn is coached by Al Bagnoli, the dean of the Ivy League coaches in this his 22nd year at Penn. He sports a 143-67 record (.681) with the Quakers and is 229-86 (.727) in 32 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Penn has won nine Ivy crowns with Bagnoli at the helm, more than any other school in that span.
While Dartmouth has had its difficulties with the Quakers over the last 15 years, dropping 14 of the games, it has had plenty of success on the road recently. The Big Green enter this contest with a seven-game road winning streak on the line, the second longest in the FCS. Only top-ranked North Dakota State has a longer one at 11 games.
Taking Care of the Ball in the Air
Dartmouth has not thrown an interception in its last five games dating back to last year, the longest streak for the team since the 1978-79 seasons (the first four of those games were quarterbacked by current head coach Buddy Teevens). Other fun facts on the streak:
- The Big Green have gone 22 quarters and 198 passes without a pick; the streak in 1978-79 spanned 23 quarters but only 132 pass attempts.
- has started each of the five games in the streak and has thrown 184 passes without an INT, a new school record. Charlie Rittgers held the previous mark with 146 attempts in the 2003-04 seasons.
- Of Williams’ 184 passes, 164 have come during the five-plus-game streak.
- Alex Park, who threw the last interception by a Big Green QB against Harvard last year, is a part of the streak as well having thrown 33 passes since that pick.
- You noticed that Williams’ 164 tosses and Park’s 33 only add up to 197. The other pass thrown was by wide receiver Ryan McManus on a 54-yard touchdown to at Princeton last year.
With the 31-28 loss to Holy Cross on Sept. 28, the Big Green had their modest three-game win streak in home openers come to a halt. It was an especially difficult loss because Dartmouth never trailed until the Crusaders booted a 23-yard field goal with 51 seconds left.
Since the start of the 2010 season, the Green have lost 14 games. In exactly half of those losses, Dartmouth was beaten when its opponent scored to take the lead in the final 90 seconds of the game (or overtime).
After two games, sophomore finds himself among the nation’s leaders in total yardage with an average of 353.5 per game, the fifth-best figure in the FCS and best in the Ivy League. He has achieved that mark with a mix of the pass and run, ranking 22nd in passing yards per game (250.5) and 28th in rushing average (103.0).
Williams has led a consistent offensive resurgence since taking over the starting role late last season. In his five starts, Dartmouth has amassed at least 400 yards in each one, the longest such stretch since the heyday of Jay Fiedler in 1993. And the 993 yards in the first two games are the most in back-to-back contests since Fiedler led the Green to 1,012 in the final two games of the 1992 campaign.
Bo Knows Big Plays
As a freshman, led the Big Green in receiving yards. He then suffered through an injury-riddled sophomore season, but did manage to catch six passes, two of which went for scores. After two games in 2013, he has matched those totals from 2012 thanks to catching a pair of touchdowns (24 and 31 yards) for the first time in his career against Holy Cross. No Big Green receiver with more than one catch this year has averaged more yards per reception (14.8).
Pierre Tops 100 for Fifth Time
Senior galloped for 124 yards on just 18 rushes against Holy Cross on Sept. 28, his fifth career 100-yard game. He had one his freshman year in his first start coming against Sacred Heart, then had three more last year. Pierre is on pace to become just the third Dartmouth player to amass 2,000 rushing yards in a career, needing just 209 more to earn that distinction. And with four touchdowns in the first two games, he is tied for fourth at Dartmouth with 21 career rushing touchdowns.
Fulleton Getting His Fill
Sophomore has been one of the bright spots on defense during the first two games with 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The defensive end recorded a career-best eight stops versus Holy Cross on Sept. 28, plus registered a 16-yard sack.
TV or Not TV
That is the question head coach must be asking himself these days, for whenever his team is on television, Dartmouth seems to end up on the wrong end of the score. With the 31-28 loss to Holy Cross as seen on Fox College Sports, the Big Green are just 3-20 when playing in a televised game since Teevens returned in 2005. But this is not a phenomenon relegated to Teevens. Since 1999, Dartmouth’s record on TV is a mere 5-30, and overall is 25-52-1 dating back to 1953.