Location: Memorial Field, Hanover, N.H.
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 29 at noon
Series Record: Quakers lead 45-32-2
Television: NBC Sports Network — Randy Moss (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (analyst), Carolyn Manno (sideline reporter)
*** PLEASE NOTE THAT THE GAME IS NOT AVAILABLE ON BIG GREEN INSIDER DUE TO NATIONAL TELEVISION BROADCAST ***
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst)
Online Audio: Dartmouth Sports Network
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Ivy Opener on National TV
Dartmouth has won five consecutive games dating back to last year, its longest streak since 1997 and currently fourth longest in the FCS. Penn has won 13 of the past 14 meetings between the two schools that have more Ivy titles than any other in the league (Dartmouth has 17, Penn 15). Something has to give in this game.
The game is being televised nationally by NBC Sports Network, but entering this season Dartmouth had not fared well on TV of late, losing all 12 times from 2008-11. Last week’s game at Holy Cross was broadcast locally in Worcester by Charter TV3, so that skid mercifully came to an end.
The Big Green would like nothing more than to start league play with a win for the first time since 2007. They have come close each of the past three years — trailing by three entering the fourth quarter in 2009, falling in overtime in 2010, and losing the lead with 17 seconds to play just last year, all against Penn.
Memorial Field is the site of Dartmouth’s lone victory over the Quakers in the last 14 years, a 21-13 triumph five years ago. To earn another win here, it would be helpful for the offense to top 350 yards, something it has not done versus Penn since the last time the Big Green won the Ivy title (1996).
Dartmouth would not be in position to push its winning streak to six if it weren’t for the efforts of kicker Riley Lyons. The sophomore not only booted the game-winning, 31-yard field goal with one second remaining for a 13-10 victory at Holy Cross, he also made a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return. His punting also helped the Green win the battle of field position, booming a 57-yarder and twice dropping the ball inside the 20 on seven punts.
Lyons was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week, and was joined by linebacker Michael Runger as a weekly award winner (for defense) thanks to a career-high 15 tackles by the junior. He spearheaded the effort that held the Crusaders to just 199 yards, a total at least half of what Dartmouth had yielded to Holy Cross in each of the past five seasons.
Runger has twice as many tackles on the season as any of his teammates (22), but senior lineman Teddy Reed has been a force up front with 11 stops in the two games, helping out at Holy Cross on a sack and recovering the key fumble in the final seconds forced by freshman cornerback Vernon Harris. One 17-yard pass from Alex Park to Ryan McManus later, and the stage was set for Lyons’ heroics.
Robert L. Blackman Head Coach Buddy Teevens has put both Park and freshman Dalyn Williams behind center this year, each providing a spark at different times. Park threw for 184 yards in the opening win over Butler, completing 15-of-20 passes. But when he took a big blow early against Holy Cross, Teevens turned to the rookie, who guided the offense to its first 10 points of the day.
The longest offensive play went to senior Michael Reilly, who made a spectacular grab of a Williams pass for 39 yards down to the 10-yard line, setting up the lone Big Green touchdown of the day. Reilly is known for making big plays, having led the league in yards per catch two years ago, a category he leads early on once again.
The running game is led by junior Dominick Pierre, a co-Offensive Player of the Week after racking up 170 yards on the ground in week one. He had to grind out 85 yards on 24 carries at Holy Cross, leaving him just one yard shy of becoming the 25th Big Green player to amass 1,000 in a career.
DHMC & Dartmouth College Employee Appreciation Day presented by Ledyard Bank
All DHMC and Dartmouth College employees and their families are invited to cheer on Dartmouth Football in their Ivy League Opener this Saturday. Tickets are just $5 with a valid employee ID! Join us for a pre-game tailgate party starting at 11 a.m. in the South End Zone presented by Ledyard Bank. Don’t forget to pick up a FREE tailgate cooler at the party.
Ivy Players of the Week
For the second straight week, a pair of Big Green players were honored as Ivy League Players of the Week. Junior claimed the defensive award, while sophomore earned the special teams award.
Runger was the ringleader of the Dartmouth defense that surrendered just 10 points and 199 yards to Holy Cross. The linebacker recorded a career-high 15 tackles, nine solo, in the three-point victory, the most for the Green since Tony Pastoors ’10 brought down 16 Raiders in the 2009 opener against Colgate. College Sports Madness also recognized Runger as its Ivy Defensive Player of the Week.
Lyons most notably provided the game-winning, 31-yard field goal with one second to play, after tying the game in the second quarter with his first career field goal. He also saved a touchdown by tackling a kick returner who had broken free for 69 yards, plus punted seven times for a 36.4-yard average, including a 57-yard bomb on the fly. In addition, the College Sports Journal named Lyons their FCS Special Teams Player of the Week.
With the 13-10 win at Holy Cross, Dartmouth has won its last five games dating back to last year, the longest for the program since the 1997 squad won its first five contests (which were the final five victories of a 15-game streak).
TV Curse Ends
It may have only been seen locally around the Worcester area, but it still counts. When Dartmouth defeated Holy Cross on Sept. 22, it ended a 12-game losing streak in games broadcast live on television. But the Big Green still have some catching up to do, owning a 25-49-1 record all-time on TV, and a 4-24 mark since 2000.
Stingiest “D” in Nearly 30 Years
Through two games, Dartmouth has surrendered just 17 points — and none in the second half — giving the Big Green the second-lowest average (8.5) in the FCS with just top-ranked North Dakota State ahead of them at 4.7. The last time Dartmouth yielded fewer points in the first two games of a season came in 1983 with a 21-3 win over Princeton and a 13-12 loss at Army, a total of 16 points. How about the last time the Big Green allowed fewer than 17 points in either of the first two games? That would be in 1998 in a 14-3 loss at Maine.
Reilly is a Gainer
Senior has been a big-play maker for the Big Green throughout his career. Two years ago, he was second in the FCS in yards per catch (23.86), and this season, he is close to a 20-yard average with nine receptions for 175 yards, the best average in the Ivy League. Reilly is knocking on the door of the Dartmouth top 10 for receiving yards with 1,238, making him one of 17 to top 1,000. He currently is 13th on the list with 71 receptions and 17.4 yards per catch.
Pierre Starts Day With 999 Yards
Junior running back , on the verge of becoming the 25th player in Dartmouth history to rush for 1,000 yards, finished the game at Holy Cross with 85 yards on the ground, leaving him just one measly yard shy of the mark. Apparently he wanted to achieve the milestone in front of the home crowd in Hanover … and on national television.
QB Rotation Paying Off
Robert L. Blackman Head Coach has a pair of quarterbacks in sophomore and freshman who have proven quite capable of running the offense, and both have had their moments in the first two games. In the opener, Park completed 15-of-20 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, plus ran for a score from a yard out. At Holy Cross, Williams spelled Park after the latter took a hard hit in the second quarter, and the rookie promptly heaved a 39-yard completion to set up the touchdown, then guided the offense into field-goal range, tying the game at 10. Park returned later and threw the key 17-yard pass with five seconds left to give placekicker a much more manageable 31-yard field goal attempt for the win.