DARTMOUTH (3-0, 1-0)
vs. YALE (3-0, 1-0)
Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 • 1:30 p.m.
Homecoming Clash of Undefeateds
For the second time in the past three years, Dartmouth enters its homecoming game with a perfect 3-0 record on the season, and its opponent, Yale, also unblemished. The Bulldogs would rather forget the outcome of that contest as the Big Green handily defeated Yale by a final of 35-3.
The difference this year is that Dartmouth has had to squeak out two games on the final play this year, but won all three games in 2015 by at least three touchdowns. The Bulldogs are simply the reverse of that, winning every game this year by at least 25 points, but just getting by two opponents two years ago by a combined total of eight points.
The most recent close call for the Green came at Penn in the Ivy League opener for both teams last Friday on national television. The Quakers took their only lead of the game on a field goal with 5:37 to play, but Dartmouth drove the length of the field and scored on a one-yard Jared Gerbino plunge into the end zone as time expired for a 16-13 victory over the co-defending conference champion.
The Big Green offense has been a nice mix of running and passing thus far, but a bit heavier on the ground game. Senior Ryder Stone leads Dartmouth with 249 rushing yards while picking up 5.5 yards per carry, and recently surpassed 1,000 career yards. Gerbino — a Wildcat QB — emerged as a force at Penn, running 11 times for 71 yards, including the game-winning score.
The starting quarterback, Jack Heneghan, doesn’t have gaudy numbers, but he has been effective throwing the ball, completing over 69 percent of his passes for 417 yards and four scores without an interception. He is coming off the most accurate game of his career, connecting on 23-of-30 throws for 199 yards and a TD against the Quakers.
Though he missed the season opener, sophomore WR Hunter Hagdorn has made up for lost time, leading the Green with 16 catches and 145 yards. With another 149 yards, he would become the 21st player in Dartmouth history with 1,000 receiving yards to his credit. Heneghan will also throw to any number of targets, including H-back Vito Penza (8 rec., 76 yds.) and WR Emory Thompson (7-81).
While the offense was posting 414 yards against Penn, the Dartmouth defense was shining by holding the Quakers to less than half (243 yards) of their season average (587) and a quarter of the scoring average (53.5). Junior LB Jack Traynor, the Big Green’s leading tackler on the season, had nine stops (one for a loss) and a pass breakup to earn Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The defensive effort is truly a team effort, however, with seven different players credited with sacks and 10 having successfully defended at least one pass. Senior LB Eric Meile has 23 tackles, two less than Traynor, and junior NG Jackson Perry has 17, including a team-high five for a loss.
The kick coverage teams have been solid, particularly on punts with opponents gaining a grand total of one yard in three games thanks in large part to the hang time Davis Brief provides. Senior David Smith has shown improved distance on his place-kicking as well, setting personal longs each of the past two weeks from 42 and 43 yards. He has also converted all 32 PAT tries in his career.
Scouting the Bulldogs
For the second straight week, Dartmouth goes up against an undefeated team with gaudy offensive numbers, this time with homecoming as a backdrop. The Yale Bulldogs are on a roll with a perfect 3-0 mark having scored at least 41 points in each of those three triumphs, plus are just outside the top 25 in the FCS Coaches Poll.
Last week the Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter en route to a 41-10 romp over Fordham. Deshawn Salter ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries, while Zane Dudek scored twice among his 10 rushes for 56 yards.
The running game has been stout for Yale in the first three games, ranked ninth nationally while averaging more than seven yards per rush. Dudek has 360 yards on just 35 carries for 10.3 yards per carry, and Salter 303 yards and seven touchdowns on 33 rushes for a 9.2-yard average.
The passing game has been extremely effective as well with QB Kurt Rawlings completing 76.2 percent of his passes (tops in the FCS) for 620 yards and six scores, placing him third in pass efficiency as well.
Rawlings has a trio of targets that he has shown preference for, beginning with Christopher Williams-Lopez. The senior wideout has 15 grabs for 202 yards to lead the Bulldogs in both categories. Both tight end Jaeden Grahman and rookie Melvin Rouse II have caught a pair of touchdowns while combining for 19 catches and 224 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs feature an excellent pass rush, leading the FCS at five sacks a game. No less than four players each have three to their credit — DEs Charles Callender and Kyle Mullen, DT Copache Tyler and LB Matthew Oplinger.
Like Dartmouth, Yale rotates players in and out of its defensive sets as no one player has more than 15 tackles (free safety Haden Carlson), though 16 different players have at least six stops to their name.
Alex Galland handles all of the kicking duties and is second in the league with a 41.6-yard average on his punts. And while he made his first 18 PATs before missing the last one against Fordham, he has failed to convert either field goal attempt this year, one from 47 yards out and the other a 24-yard try that was blocked, both during the first game.
Now in his sixth year as the Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Football, Tony Reno has pushed his overall record above .500 (27-26) with the three wins to start this season. Yale has been in the top half of the league standings each of the past four years, and nearly earned a share of the 2014 title before coming up just short in a tough loss to rival Harvard in the final game. Reno is a 1997 graduate of Worcester State College and was hired at Yale as an assistant in 2003 after a successful five-year stint at his alma mater.
Not only will the game against Yale be streamed live on the Ivy League Network, but it will also be available on ESPN3.com, the ESPN streaming service, with Bob Lipman and Ken Cail calling the action. Fans will be able to access the stream on ESPN3.com by logging in with their username and password for their cable or satellite provider.
Down to the Wire
When Jared Gerbino bulled his way into the end zone against Penn to lift Dartmouth to a 16-13 victory on Sept. 29, it was the first time in almost 46 years that the Big Green won a game on the final play of regulation. Back on Oct. 23, 1971, Ted Perry ’73 drilled a 46-yard field goal as time expired to give Dartmouth a (coincidentally) 16-13 win at Harvard. Since then, the Big Green had won 20 other games thanks to scores in the final two minutes (including a win at Holy Cross five years ago with one second remaining) before the win at Penn this year. Has Dartmouth ever won on the final play at home? Well, that will take more investigating. Maybe another time …
Defensive Player of the Week
Junior LB Jack Traynor may not have posted gaudy numbers in the 16-13 win at Penn on Sept. 29, but he led the Dartmouth defense with nine tackles, one for a loss, and a PBU as the Big Green stifled a Quaker offense that was ranked in the top three nationally in scoring, total yards and rushing. Traynor enters this game with 25 tackles on the season, tops on the team and seventh in the Ivy League.
Semifinalist for Campbell Trophy
Senior QB Jack Heneghan was announced as one of the 181 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given to the top football scholar-athlete in the nation at any level, NCAA or NAIA. Seven of the eight Ivy League schools have a player on the list, a conference record. A total of 12-14 finalists will be announced on Nov. 1, each receiving an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, while the winner will receive an extra $7,000. Heneghan is an economics major with a 3.79 grade point average.
Smith Pushing His Limits
Senior PK David Smith split the uprights with a 43-yard field goal to end the first half at Penn, giving Dartmouth a three-point lead at the break, 10-7. It was a career long for the Canadian, marking the second straight week he broke his personal mark. Against Holy Cross on Sept. 23, he had a 42-yarder early in the second quarter before ending that half with a field goal from 35 yards out.
Do Penalties = Bad?
Dartmouth was able to overcome 11 penalties for 105 yards to pull out a 16-13 victory at Penn on Sept. 29. And certainly coaches hate to lose yards due to penalties, but perhaps those fouls aren’t so bad. Since 1972, the Big Green have piled up at least 100 penalty yards in 15 games, yet have gone 12-3 in those contests. And in the 38 contests in which they have been whistled 10 times for penalties in that span, Dartmouth’s record is 29-8-1. Now, I’m not advocating breaking the rules, but …
Controlling the Ball
Not only did Dartmouth win the battle for time of possession at Penn by over nine minutes (34:36 to 25:24), it also had the ball longer in each of the four quarters. The Big Green ended up running 78 plays compared to just 50 for the Quakers. Only four times in the last 45 years has an opponent run fewer plays in a game, three of which were shutouts, and the other a 21-16 win at Brown six years ago (49).
Dartmouth has won its last two games by a combined four points, which is quite a rarity in the Big Green annals. The last time Dartmouth won consecutive games by a combined margin as small came back in 1982 with a 14-12 triumph over Harvard before a 14-13 win at Cornell the next week. The only other instance came in 1947 with victories against Brown (13-10) and Harvard (14-13). So I guess you’re wondering what the record is for fewest points in three straight wins? Big Green broadcaster Wayne Young ’72 should know, for it was his senior year in 1971 against Brown (10-7), Harvard (16-13) and Yale (17-15) for a total of eight points.
Running Down a Dream
Well, if amassing 200 rushing yards is a dream, this note makes sense. Dartmouth has started the year by running for at least 200 yards in each of the first three games. Only once in the past 20 years have the Big Green had three consecutive 200-yard games on the ground, that coming in 2013 when Dartmouth had at least 200 in the first four contests. And in the last 40 years, the feat has been achieved just nine times, the longest streak coming in 1995 at six games.
Taking Care of the Ball
Through three games, QB Jack Heneghan has completed 47 passes at a 69.1 completion rate (Big Green record is 67.5 percent) without an interception. It has not been uncommon for Dartmouth to go three consecutive games without an interception, but rarely has it gone four. Dalyn Williams managed to do it in the first four games of the 2015 season, and the only other such streak in the last 45 years came in 1973 when the Big Green had a stretch of five games without an INT. Granted, the 1973 quarterbacks only completed 40 passes in those five games …
Around the Hagdorn
Sophomore WR Hunter Hagdorn has kept busy since returning to the field for the second game of the season. Against Holy Cross, he led Dartmouth with seven receptions for a modest 54 yards, then boosted those numbers to nine catches for 91 yards and his first TD of the season. He now has 72 grabs for 851 yards and two scores in his career.
Receivers or Rushers?
Both senior Emory Thompson and Drew Estrada are wide receivers, but they have been taking handoffs at least as often as they have caught passes. Thompson has seven catches for 81 yards and seven runs for 49 yards to date. Estrada has been a bit more extreme with just three receptions compared to 12 rushes, nine coming at Penn. He is the fourth-leading rusher on the Big Green with 74 yards.