Looking to Rebound at the Yale Bowl on Saturday
Location: Yale Bowl, New Haven, Conn.
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 6 at noon
Series Record: Bulldogs lead, 53-36-6
Online Video: Yale All-Access ($)
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM; Online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Tackling the Turf of Terror
One week after having its five-game winning streak snapped by Penn, Dartmouth travels to a venue that has haunted them for the past decade — the Yale Bowl. The host Bulldogs have won the past five meetings there by a combined 171-34 with the last three games decided by a margin of at least 30 points, including last year’s 30-0 shutout.
But that was before the Big Green overcame their aversion to natural grass. They had lost 14 straight on the surface until defeating Brown in Providence in the penultimate game of 2011, then won again on grass at Holy Cross two weeks ago.
Last week, a sluggish first half cost Dartmouth the opportunity to knock off the Quakers in the Ivy opener, falling behind 20-0 before intermission. The Big Green dominated play in the second half, but ended up a touchdown short in the 28-21 loss.
Sophomore quarterback Alex Park was under duress the entire first half, but once given the time, he picked apart the Penn defense for a career-high 279 passing yards while completing 21-of-29 throws. His performance elevated him to second in the Ivy League and 13th in the nation in passing efficiency at 150.56, and improved his completion percentage to 68.2, the fifth best at the FCS level.
Park’s favorite target once again was senior Michael Reilly, who posted a touchdown among his seven catches for 115 receiving yards, the first 100-yard effort since Reilly had 124 against Yale two years ago. He, too, is among the nation’s leaders, ranking 14th in receiving yards per game (96.67).
Although Dartmouth managed just 63 rushing yards as a team (due to four sacks), junior Dominick Pierre was quite effective, picking up 95 yards on 19 carries with a 33-yard touchdown, not to mention two receptions for 31 yards. He is now second in the Ivy League and 15th nationally with 116.7 yards per game on the ground.
The defense also came on strong in the second half, holding Penn to just six first downs and one touchdown. Junior linebacker Michael Runger and classmate Mike Banaciski each registered double-digit tackles with 11 and 10, respectively, the latter a career best for the nickelback. Runger leads the Ivy League in tackles per game (11.0)
But it was the plays that weren’t made that proved costly as Dartmouth defenders three times had interceptions within their grasp, only to fail to secure the pass each time. At least the Big Green are keeping good company as one of three FCS teams that have not picked off a pass this year, joining Jacksonville State and Towson, both of which have been ranked or are currently ranked in the polls this year.
Special teams play had been a strength during the first two weeks, what with a kickoff return for a touchdown versus Butler and a game-winning field goal in the final seconds at Holy Cross. But a missed 30-yard field goal and a botched snap on a 41-yard attempt on the last play of the first half left the Big Green special teamers looking for some redemption this week.
Not only is Dartmouth attempting to end its futility at the Yale Bowl, but it also needs a victory to keep Yale from winning 10 straight games in the series, a feat neither side has accomplished. The Bulldogs were undefeated during the first 18 meetings, although that included three ties. The last Big Green win against Yale came in 2002, 20-17, and the last triumph in New Haven was the year before, 32-27.
Problems with Penn
The Quakers continued to haunt Dartmouth with a 28-21 victory over the host Big Green on Sept. 29. Not only was it Penn’s 14th victory in the last 15 meetings between the two schools, it was also the fourth consecutive game in the series to be decided by no more than a touchdown.
Lahey a Campbell Trophy Semifinalist
Senior offensive lineman Patrick Lahey was named as one of 147 candidates for the 2012 National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments®. Nominees must be in their final season of eligibility and have at least a 3.2 GPA while being a starter or key contributor on the field. Lahey is a sociology major with a 3.37 GPA and is the starting left guard on the line. Before sitting out the 2011 season with an injury, he started on the line that yielded just seven sacks and paved the way for Nick Schwieger ’12 to run for over 1,000 yards.
Would-Be Historic Comeback
When the Big Green fell behind Penn, 20-0, in the first half on Sept. 29, the odds of them coming back to win were quite long. Only once in Dartmouth’s storied football history has the team rallied from a 20-point deficit to snatch victory from defeat. On Oct. 27, 1951, host Harvard took a 20-0 lead in the first half, only to have the Green score 26 unanswered points for a 26-20 triumph.
Pierre Passes 1,000 Yards
With his first run of the day against Penn, junior running back became the 25th player in Dartmouth history to rush for 1,000 yards. With 95 yards on 19 carries in the game, he finished the day with 1,094 yards on the ground to his credit, the 24th most in school history. He has 350 yards for the season and is 15th nationally with 116.7 yards per game.
Reilly Tops Century Mark
When senior hauled in seven passes for 115 yards against the Quakers, he became the first Big Green receiver in nearly two years to top the century mark. The last player to do so was … against Yale in 2010, piling up 124 yards on just four receptions. He needs just 60 yards to crack into Dartmouth’s all-time top 10 for receiving yards and is 13th with 78 career receptions. He is also second in the Ivy League and 14th nationally with 96.67 receiving yards per game.
Park Passes for 279 Yards
While it was nearly two years since a receiver had a 100-yard game, it had been almost three years since a Dartmouth quarterback had thrown for as many yards as sophomore did against Penn — 279. Conner Kempe ’12 compiled 302 passing yards in a 34-14 loss at Holy Cross back on Oct. 17, 2009, although he and Greg Patton combined to throw for 302 yards in the season finale that year against Princeton. As a matter of fact, no Big Green QB had even thrown for 200 yards since Kempe posted 242 against Harvard in 2010.
Runger a Ringer
Junior linebacker is making his presence known on the field this year, leading the Ivy League and ranking 15th nationally with 11 tackles per game thus far. He has led the team in stops in each of the first three contests, including a career-high 15 in the win at Holy Cross.