Explosive Second Half Sends Football to Win at Princeton
PRINCETON, N.J. — The Dartmouth Big Green scored three touchdowns in the first six minutes of the second half as they defeated host Princeton on Saturday afternoon, 35-21. Freshman Dalyn Williams threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to help Dartmouth (6-4, 4-3 Ivy) claim the Governor's Trophy and the Sawhorse Dollar in the rivalry game against the Tigers (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) for a third straight year.
Williams completed 20-of-35 throws on the afternoon for a season-high 284 yards and did not throw an interception, finishing the season without throwing a pick on any of his 114 pass attempts. Leading the nine receivers that caught at least one pass was sophomore Bo Patterson, who had not played the previous three weeks due to a hamstring injury, with four receptions for a career-best 82 yards and one touchdown. His scoring catch was a 54-yarder from wide receiver Ryan McManus, who caught a lateral from Williams to suck in the defense.
As a team, Dartmouth gained 483 yards of offense on 88 plays while holding the ball for nearly twice as long as Princeton (39:35 to 20:25). The Tigers were held to just 262 yards — 95 in the second half — on 56 plays.
The second half began with the Big Green trailing, 14-7, but they quickly tied the score on the McManus pass to Patterson right after converting a 4th-and-1 at their own 44.
After the Tigers took over, Dartmouth quickly regained possession when senior safety Garrett Waggoner jarred the ball loose from quarterback Quinn Epperly’s grasp at the end of a nine-yard gain, and junior nickelback Mike Banaciski pounced on it at the Princeton 38. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of the play did not slow the offense as Williams ran for 12 yards, threw a 37-yard completion to McManus, then connected with senior tight end Mitch Aprahamian for a four-yard score and a 21-14 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Banaciski covered up another Tiger fumble, this time forced by junior Cole Pembroke at the Princeton 25. Six plays later, Williams crossed the goal line on the option, carrying the ball into the end zone from two yards out with 9:17 still to play in the third quarter.
The Dartmouth defense quickly stopped the Tigers and began another drive in enemy territory after a 15-yard punt return and another 15 yards on a facemask penalty. After driving down to the two for 1st-and-goal, the Tigers stiffened and pushed the Big Green back to the 10. The 27-yard field goal was pulled wide to the left, keeping the Green from extending their lead to three scores.
The missed opportunity did not matter, however, thanks to a Waggoner fourth-quarter interception at midfield that he returned to the Tiger 35. Princeton appeared to have staved off Dartmouth as 4th-and-12 came to pass. But Williams wasn’t satisfied with just a first down, lofting a 37-yard pass into the end zone, where senior Michael Reilly ran under the throw for the final Big Green touchdown of the day.
Backup quarterback Kedric Bostic had a nine-yard touchdown run for Princeton with 3:05 left to play, but the onside kick failed. Dartmouth ran out the clock, with a little help from a fake punt on a 4th-and-7 with senior tight end Justin Foley running for 18 yards.
The game began as a bit of a defensive struggle with neither team scoring in the opening period. Dartmouth got the first scoring opportunity of the game early in the second quarter, driving down to the Tiger 25 before stalling there. The Big Green brought sophomore Riley Lyons on to attempt the 42-yard field goal, but Caraun Reid got a hand on the kick, which fell dead at the two.
Riding the high of the defensive stop, Princeton quickly marched the 75 yards in nine plays on misdirection runs mixed in with a pass here and there. Epperly finished off the drive with a four-yard keeper, and Nolan Bieck provided the PAT for a 7-0 Tiger lead.
Princeton’s special teams came through again after its defense forced the Big Green to punt from their own 34. Seth DeValve broke through the protection and blocked Lyons’ punt, allowing to scoop up the ball at the 23 and take it home for another Tiger touchdown and a 14-0 advantage with 8:30 left in the half.
Dartmouth responded with a quick touchdown of its own. Starting at its 25-yard line, Williams connected with Reilly for 23 yards, and three plays later went to Reilly again, only this time the pass was a bit high and went off his hands. Freshman Victor Williams was in line beyond Reilly and corraled the tipped throw for a 32-yard gain. A roughing-the-passer penalty on the play put the ball on the Princeton seven, and Williams wasted no time in connecting with Foley, who just passed the pylon for the touchdown.
The Tigers came right back, driving down to the Big Green two before facing fourth down. Princeton head coach Bob Surace decided to take the points with about 90 seconds remaining in the half, setting up for a 19-yard field goal. But the snap went over the holder’s reach, giving Dartmouth the ball at the Tiger 31. The Big Green were able to advance past midfield, but sacks on the final two plays of the half left the score at 14-7.
While the Dartmouth air game piled up 338 yards, the running game tacked on 145 more with Williams leading the way with 43 and junior Dan Henggeler picking up 38. McManus joined Patterson with four receptions, gaining 76 yards. On defense, junior linebacker Michael Runger had a career-high 17 tackles, the most by an Ivy League player this season.
For Princeton, Epperly finished the day 11-of-18 for 101 yards and one interception, while Bostic was 5-of-8 for 56 yards. Will Powers was the leading rusher for the Tigers with 71 yards on 10 carries. Andrew Starks led the defense with 16 tackles while Mike Catapano had two of the team’s five sacks.
Notes: Penn (6-4, 6-1 Ivy) won the league title outright with a 35-28 victory at Cornell, while Harvard (8-2, 5-2 Ivy) finished second thanks to a 34-24 triumph over Yale ... Dartmouth, Princeton and Brown all tied for third ... Reilly finished his career sixth on the Dartmouth charts with 1,745 receiving yards and ninth with 106 receptions ... Williams ended his rookie season 73-of-114 (64.0 pct.) for 974 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions ... Runger’s 17 tackles gives him 98 on the season to lead the Ivy League ... the Big Green won each of their five road games this year, achieving the feat for the first time since 1997 ... the team also owns the fourth-longest road winning streak in the FCS at six games.