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Date & Time: Saturday, September 20, 7 p.m. Dartmouth Stats CCSU
Location: Hanover, N.H. // Weather N/A Record 1-2
Stadium: Memorial Field N/A Streak Lost 2
All-Time Series: First Meeting N/A Points/Game 12.7
Tickets: Information N/A Total Yards 350.7
Broadcast: Ivy League Digital Network N/A Passing/Game 238.7
Radio: 99Rock // WFRD 99.3 FM N/A Rushing/Game 112.0
Logistics: Directions // Parking // Seating Chart N/A Yards Allowed 332.0
Twitter: @DartmouthSports // @DartFootball N/A Points Allowed 22.0
Dartmouth Links: Home // Roster // Schedule // Stats // Teevens Teleteaser // Notes (PDF) N/A Red Zone % 56%
CCSU Links: Home // Roster // Schedule // Stats // Notes  N/A  Time of Possession  29:55
Game Program Bo Patterson Feature (PDF) Ivy League Conference NEC

Dartmouth football has been around since 1881, but this is the first time the Big Green will do battle on the gridiron with Central Connecticut State of the Northeast Conference while finally kicking off the 2014 campaign. Of all the Division I football teams, both FBS and FCS, Dartmouth is the last to start its season.

Picked to finish third in the Ivy League Preseason Poll by the media, the Big Green have finished among the top three in each of the past three seasons. Now they are aiming to clear that final hurdle and add to their 17 Ancient Eight titles, a total no other team has achieved.

Last year, Dartmouth finished just a single game behind the co-champions, Princeton and Harvard, having lost to Penn in four overtimes (the longest game in Ivy League history) and the Crimson on a last-minute field goal. The Green did deny the Tigers the outright crown by dealing them a 28-24 defeat on the final day of the season.

No fewer than nine players return to the Dartmouth roster that have earned All-Ivy recognition — eight from last year and one from the year before — including senior co-captains Stephen Dazzo and Sean Ronan.

Behind center will be junior Dalyn Williams, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2012 and an All-Ivy honorable mention last season. With two full seasons ahead of him, he already ranks among Dartmouth’s top 10 in career passing yards (2,747, 10th) and total offense (3,572, seventh) and set a Big Green quarterback single-season record by rushing for 563 yards in 2013. Dartmouth has the luxury of having another signal caller worthy of starting in senior Alex Park, who currently is the most accurate passer in the program’s history (61.9 percent completion rate).

The Big Green suffered through numerous injuries among its wide receiving corps a year ago, but that merely has given Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens — in his 15th season at the helm — a very deep rotation. Two-sport athlete Bo Patterson was the only receiver to play in all 10 games last year as the senior earned All-Ivy honorable mention by leading Dartmouth in receptions, yardage and receiving touchdowns. Another honorable mention, but from 2012, is senior Ryan McManus, who played in just two games as a junior after catching 42 passes for 664 yards the year before. Add in senior Kirby Schoenthaler, junior Victor Williams, and sophomores Houston Brown and Jon Marc Carrier among others, and Dartmouth has plenty of options at which to throw.

The vaunted running game, headed up by Dominick Pierre ’14 and Nick Schwieger ’12 before him, will feature a solid 1-2 punch in juniors Kyle Bramble and Brian Grove. Bramble emerged as the top back-up to Pierre last year, averaging over six yards on his 55 carries, while Grove has nearly 300 yards in his first two seasons.

The offensive line features Ronan and All-Ivy first-teamer Scotty Whitmore, while the defensive line boasts a pair of second-teamers in senior Evan Chrustic and junior Cody Fulleton. Although the defense lost more starters than the offense did, Dartmouth fully expects to be among the stingiest teams in the league after leading the league in scoring defense and passing yards allowed — the latter for the third consecutive year.

The linebackers were hit hardest with the graduation of two All-Ivy performers. But with junior Will McNamara and sophomore Folarin Orimolade ready to step into more prominent roles with senior Eric Wickham and junior Zach Slafsky, this is a position that should be an area of strength.

In the secondary, Dazzo oversees a veteran group, including cornerback Vernon Harris, one of the conference’s top cover men. Senior corner Chai Reece returns to the mix after missing last year with an injury, and senior safety Troy Donahue will patrol the middle of the field after posting 44 tackles last year.

The kicking game is looking for a return to form for senior Riley Lyons. He has a strong leg as proven with the longest average among the Ivies on kickoffs, but struggled last year on field goals, which gave Alex Gakenheimer an opportunity to get some experience. The punting game got a nice rookie debut by Ben Kepley, and he is shooting to improve upon his solid numbers.

Since opening the season with a 31-27 victory over Towson — a team that played in the FCS National Championship game last season — Central Connecticut has dropped two straight while scoring a total of just seven points.

Running back Rob Hollomon, a Sports Network All-American last year, is the offensive star for these Blue Devils. As his statistics go, so does the team. Against Towson he racked up 161 yards on the ground and 48 more on receptions to lead CCSU to the surprising victory. But Albany held him to just 33 rushing yards in a 19-0 shutout, and future Dartmouth opponent Holy Cross allowed him to post less than 100 combined yards rushing and receiving in a 20-7 contest last week. Containing Hollomon will be the top priority for the Dartmouth defense.

But don’t sleep on quarterback Nick SanGiacomo, who has completed just over 60 percent of his passes and averages more than 230 yards per game. He is also showing much more mobility in his junior campaign having attempted more rushes in three games than he did all of 2013.

And to whom does SanGiacomo look to throw first and foremost? Wide receiver Tyrell Holmes, who leads the team with 17 receptions, 265 yards and two of the Blue Devils’ three touchdowns through the air. No one else on the squad has even 80 receiving yards, while only Hollomon out of the backfield has more than five receptions with 15.

The CCSU defense has proven to be adept against the pass, allowing less than 150 yards per game, but its opponents have found a bit of success on the ground with an average of 184 yards. Safeties Chris Abner and Josh Celerin have been the team’s most active tacklers with 27 and 23, respectively. Abner also has one of the two Blue Devil interceptions while Celerin has swatted away three passes. Linebacker C.J. Morrison is a handful as is Josh Alaeze, but the latter was unavailable last week.

When it comes to kicking, Ed Groth is the Blue Devils’ man. He has fared better punting the ball as compared to his place kicking, however, as he has averaged over 38 yards per punt and dropped four of 13 inside the opponent’s 20. Of his four field goal attempts, the first three were off the mark before he converted a 27-yarder at Holy Cross.

The Northeast Conference coaches pegged Central Connecticut to finish the season in fourth place in the league standings under first-year head coach Pete Rossomando, who spent the past five seasons guiding the University of New Haven to a 42-13 record and two NCAA Division II playoff appearances. He was named the Division II National Coach of the Year in 2012 as his squad was ranked as high as third in the polls. A 1994 graduate from Boston University, Rossomando was a lineman and helped the Terriers win a Yankee Conference championship and a spot in the I-AA (FCS) playoffs as a senior.

The Ivy League football schedule always starts a couple of weeks after the rest of Division I. But with the season opener kicking off at 7 p.m. against Central Connecticut State, Dartmouth has the ignominious distinction of being the last FCS (and FBS) team to begin its season for a third consecutive year.

Last year, the Big Green claimed a total of 15 players who earned All-Ivy honors, five of which made the first team. Of those 15 selections, eight return to the field for Dartmouth this fall.

Senior offensive lineman Scotty Whitmore is the lone first-teamer back in 2014 as one of the anchors for the Big Green’s front five. All four second-teamers came from the defensive side of the field and will suit up this fall in seniors Evan Chrustic (DL) and Stephen Dazzo (S), and juniors Cody Fulleton (DL) and Vernon Harris (CB). Finally, a trio of honorable mentions — all offensive players — will get the opportunity to improve upon their accolades in seniors Bo Patterson (WR) and Sean Ronan (OL), plus junior Dalyn Williams (QB).
In each of the last three seasons, the Big Green have outperformed their expected finish before the season began. Back in 2011, Dartmouth was picked by the media to finish fifth, yet ended the year in a tie for second. The following season the Big Green were picked to place sixth in the final league standings, yet when the final bell sounded, there they were in a tie for third. Last year, Dartmouth turned a fourth-place prognostication into a third-place finish, just one game behind the co-champions. The Big Green coaches would be thrilled to have that pattern hold up after being slotted for third in 2014, its highest finish in the preseason poll since 1997. Princeton, which shared the title with Harvard last year, edged the Crimson in the poll by a single point. The complete poll can be found on page seven of the game notes.

Dartmouth has won at least a share of the Ivy League crown 17 times since the league played its first season in 1956, more than any other school. The lead is shrinking, however, as the Big Green are currently in their longest title drought, having last finished atop the standings in 1996. Penn is threatening to equal Dartmouth, having won its 16th championship in 2012. Harvard picked up its 15th title last year, and Yale isn’t much further behind with 14.

Although Dartmouth graduated some key players from last year’s 6-4 squad, the Big Green have experience littered throughout the roster, particularly at the skill positions. Even with the departure of the second all-time leading rusher in Dominick Pierre ’14, head coach Buddy Teevens has 47 percent of yards gained on the ground last year, not to mention 78 percent of its receiving yards and 100 percent of its passing yards with quarterbacks Dalyn Williams and Alex Park teaming up for a third straight season. The losses on defense were a little more pronounced as four of the top five tacklers graduated. Even so, an almost even 50 percent of all tackles will be back competing on the gridiron this fall.

Entering his junior season, Dalyn Williams is already among Dartmouth’s leaders in several statistical categories. The native of Corinth, Texas, begins the year seventh in Big Green history with 3,572 total yards of offense and 10th with 2,747 passing yards. If he passes for close to 2,000 yards in each of his final two campaigns, he will have a chance to surpass Jay Fielder ’94 as Dartmouth’s leading passer. After rushing for 563 yards last year (a Big Green quarterback record), Williams is just 175 yards shy of becoming the 26th 1,000-yard rusher in school history. Finally, his TD-INT ratio of 18-5 is the best at Dartmouth ever. The only other QB at Dartmouth with at least 300 yards and even twice as many scoring strikes as picks is Bill Gundy ’60 who threw 18 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in his career.

Speaking of Dalyn Williams, The College Football Performance Awards unveiled its watch lists for various positions, and two Big Green players were selected — Williams to the Quarterback Award Watch List, and Kirby Schoenthaler on the Kickoff Returner Award Watch List. Although he was on the list last year as well, Schoenthaler’s inclusion was a bit of surprise since he did not return a single kickoff in 2013.

While Williams has claimed his spot as the starting QB for the Big Green, Dartmouth also has an accomplished signal caller in senior Alex Park. Hailing from the football hotbed of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, the transfer from the University of New Hampshire gives the Green a wonderful luxury of two capable and experienced quarterbacks. In his three years in Hanover, Park has completed 61.9 percent (138 of 223) of his passes, which currently rates as the best in the program’s history, for 1,701 yards and 10 touchdowns.

For the first time since 2009, Dartmouth has just two captains guiding the squad in senior free safety Stephen Dazzo and senior center Sean Ronan. Each of the squads from the previous four years had tri-captains. The last time just two captains were naed came in 2009 when Tim McManus ’11 began his first of three years as a captain along with Pete Pidermann ’10. It has been more than a decade since only one captain was appointed — Kevin Noone in 2002.

If your memory is as good as mine, you need a little refresher on some of the great moments from the 2013 campaign, so here you go:
•    Dartmouth finished the season 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the league, its best Ivy record since 1997.
•    The Big Green enjoyed winning records for conference and overall play in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996-97.
•    The Dartmouth defense led the Ivy League in fewest points allowed as well as fewest passing yards allowed, the latter for the third straight year.
•    The offense ran a total of 795 plays in 2013, a new school record.
•    Quarterback Dalyn Williams recorded three of the top 20 single-game total offense marks in Big Green history — all in the first three games.
•    Dartmouth’s Ivy opener at Penn turned into the longest game in league history at four overtimes. Penn prevailed, unfortunately, 37-31.
•    Linebacker Will McNamara became the first Big Green player ever to return two interceptions for touchdowns in one game when he accomplished the feat against Columbia in a 56-0 victory.
•    The longest play of the season was provided by running back Kyle Bramble, who sprinted 70 yards for a touchdown at Brown.
•    The win over 19th-ranked Princeton to end the season was the only league loss for the Tigers all year and kept them from an outright conference crown.
•    In nine of the 10 games, Dartmouth scored first. The only team to beat them out of the gate was Harvard, although the Big Green did eventually take a 14-13 lead before falling on a last-minute field goal.
•    Dominick Pierre finished his career second all-time with 2,638 rushing yards and became the fifth player in school history to run for 1,000 yards in a season (1,064). He also became the first Big Green player to score at least one touchdown in 10 games.
•    Linebacker Michael Runger was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team, the 17th Big Green player to earn Academic All-America status.

Dartmouth has increasingly found more and more talent in the state of Illinois, and now sports more active players from that state than anywhere else with an even dozen. Three other states have at least 10 on the Big Green roster, all of which are football talent hotbeds in California (11), Florida (11) and Texas (10). The four states with six are an interesting mix of near and far with Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oklahoma. Overall Dartmouth features players from a total of 27 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Canada. For a bit more local flavor, there are a pair from Dartmouth’s native state of New Hampshire — senior RB Cody Patch and junior WR Dan Gorman. Both Patch and Gorman are very local with the former from just down the road in Lebanon, while the latter played his high school ball across the street at Hanover High.

Two sophomores have famous fathers that played in the NFL. Defensive back Lucas Bavaro is the son of Mark Bavaro, a tight end who caught 351 passes and 39 touchdowns in his nine years in the league, most notably for the New York Giants. Wide receiver Jon Marc Carrier is following in the footsteps of his father, Mark Carrier, who played 12 years in the NFL. His biggest seasons came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers, including 1,422 yards in his Pro Bowl year with the Bucs in 1989, finishing his career with 569 receptions for 8,763 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Head coach Buddy Teevens has his own NFL connection, having served on the staff at the Manning Passing Academy for every one of the 18 years of its existence. He is now the associate director of the famed academy, overseeing all aspects of the on-field operation and coaching staff.