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Game Day Central

Date & Time: Homecoming Saturday, October 18, 1:30 p.m. Dartmouth Stats HC
Location: Hanover, N.H. // Weather 3-1 Record 0-2
Stadium: Memorial Field Won 2 Streak Lost 4
All-Time Series: Crusaders lead 37-36-4 30.8 Points/Game 19.0
Tickets: Information 353.0 Total Yards 366.0
Video: Big Green Insider on the Ivy League Digital Network 204.8 Passing/Game 226.6
Radio: 99Rock // WFRD 99.3 FM - Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst) 148.3 Rushing/Game 139.4
Logistics: Directions // Parking // Seating Chart 467.3 Yards Allowed 395.6
Twitter: @DartmouthSports // @DartFootball 30.3 Points Allowed 25.7
Dartmouth Links: Home // Roster // Schedule // Stats // Teevens Teleteaser // Notes (PDF) 100.0% Red Zone % 79.2%
Holy Cross Links: Home // Roster // Schedule // Stats // Notes (PDF) 28:15  Time of Possession  27:48
Game Program Stephen Dazzo // Wearers of the Green (PDF) 57.2 Penalty Yards

Hosting Holy Cross for Homecoming
While this homecoming game is a non-conference affair, it is fitting that the opponent outside of the Ivy League is Holy Cross, a team with which Dartmouth has a storied history. The two schools are meeting on the gridiron for the 78th time, and the Big Green need a win to even the series at 37-37-4.

Last year the Crusaders dealt Dartmouth a 31-28 defeat here at Memorial Field thanks to a John Macomber field goal in the final minute of play. The Green would like nothing more than to avenge that loss and improve to 4-1, which would give Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens a victory in his 145th game as the head coach to pass Blackman as the all-time leader in program history.

Dartmouth enters this contest riding high after a big 38-31 win on the road at previously undefeated Yale to go to 2-0 in league play. Junior QB Dalyn Williams aired it out against the Bulldog defense, setting career highs with 32 completions (on 47 attempts) and 388 yards, nearly 100 more than his previous best. For his stellar play, he received the weekly Gold Helmet Award as the top FCS player in New England.

Yet senior WR Ryan McManus may have stolen the show with his diving catches and 60-yard punt return for a touchdown as he earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors. He tied for the third-most receptions in a game for Dartmouth (12) and amassed the seventh-most yards (188) with three grabs of at least 30 yards. Among Ivy receivers, he enters the weekend second in yardage and fourth in catches.

McManus wasn’t the only receiver enjoying a fine day. Senior WR Bo Patterson and junior WR Victor Williams each caught a career-high seven throws, including a 39-yard bomb to the former for the first Big Green points of the afternoon.

While Williams and the receivers were having their way with the Bulldog defense, the running game was held in check with just 46 yards on 31 carries. Granted, 41 yards were lost on seven Yale sacks, but the team’s leading rusher, junior RB Kyle Bramble, took the handoff just six times for 27 yards. But in the end, Dartmouth was able to win a game with fewer than 50 rushing yards for the first time since the season finale in 1997.

The defense came out of the gate a little slow at Yale as the host Bulldogs — leading all FCS schools in points and yardage — reached the end zone on their first three possessions. But junior LB Will McNamara (career-high 15 tackles) and company held Yale to just 10 more points (and 20 under its season average) to allow Dartmouth to rally from a 14-point deficit. Senior safeties Stephen Dazzo and Troy Donahue, as well as junior CB Vernon Harris, each picked off a pass to help keep the Elis at bay.

The aforementioned TD on McManus’ 60-yard punt return highlighted the special teams play. Dartmouth leads the Ivy League in punt return average and ranks second in kickoff returns to boot. The kicking game continued to be solid for the Big Green, too, with sophomore Alex Gakenheimer converting his seventh straight field goal dating back to last year with a 35-yarder in the fourth quarter to tie the game. And senior Riley Lyons, who made three tackles last Saturday, once again leads the league in average yards on kickoffs.

Scouting the Crusaders
Holy Cross is searching for the end of its losing skid, currently at four games, after suffering a double-overtime loss at Brown last weekend, 27-24. The 2-5 Crusaders began the season with a heartbreaking, 14-13 loss at Albany (a team that was receiving votes in the weekly polls earlier this year) but won their next two over Morgan State and Central Connecticut State before dropping four in a row.

Turnovers have been troublesome for Holy Cross, having coughed the ball up 14 times while forcing just six turnovers. So while the Crusaders have accumulated a little more yardage than the Big Green this year, they have scored 36 percent fewer points.

The undeniable star of the offense is quarterback Peter Pujals, who came of age during a 31-28 victory at Memorial Field last year on his way to being named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. He is completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 226.3 yards per game and leads the team in rushing average as well at 57.0. But he has thrown seven interceptions to go with his seven touchdown tosses after having a much better 19-to-8 ratio as a freshman.

The top two targets for Pujals are wide receivers Jake Wieczorek and Kalif Raymond. Wieczorek is the big-play receiver with 37 catches for 570 yards (15.4 avg.) and three touchdowns, while Raymond averages just over eight yards on his 36 receptions.

Aside from Pujals, Gabe Guild is the top rushing option for the Crusaders, taking the handoff about 12 times a game at just over four yards per carry with a team-high four touchdowns. Shane Taylor and Diquan Walker will also see time in the backfield.

On the other side of the ball, Holy Cross relies heavily on its linebackers. John Zakrzewski leads the squad with 63 tackles, including five for a loss, while Shane Thompson and Diego Quintanar are second and third with 41 and 35 stops, respectively. And the fourth starting linebacker in the 3-4 defense, Chase Ullman, just happens to be their leading pass rusher with four sacks. Free safety Luke Ford has two of the Crusaders’ four interceptions on the season, but he has been sidelined for the past two games.

Connor Fitzgerald handles all kicking duties, but did miss a couple of games. As a team, Holy Cross has converted 7-of-11 field goals and averages 38.1 yards on punts. The Holy Cross return men on kickoffs, Andre Harton and Alim Muhammad, are solid, as is Raymond on punt returns.

Former Dartmouth assistant Tom Gilmore is in his 11th season at Holy Cross, having come to the Patriot League school after serving four years as the defensive coordinator at Lehigh and eight years as an assistant at Dartmouth. He sports a 58-61 record entering today’s game, and in 2009 led the Crusaders to their first conference title in 18 years to advance to the NCAA Playoffs and earn Patriot League and New England Coach of the Year honors. An Academic All-American at Penn, Gilmore graduated in 1986 and garnered the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Player of the Year.

Another Ivy Player of the Week
For the sixth straight week, a Dartmouth player earned one of the weekly awards from the Ivy League office. This time it was senior WR Ryan McManus as the top offensive player for his work in the 38-31 triumph at Yale on Oct. 11. His career-high 12 receptions are tied for third-most in Dartmouth history, while his 188 receiving yards rank seventh and 245 all-purpose yards are eighth in the Big Green annals. College Sports Madness also named him the Ivy Player of the Week, and he also received the National Punt Returner Performer Award for the Week from the College Football Performance Awards for returning a punt 60 yards for a touchdown.

Williams Earns Gold Helmet
Ryan McManus wasn’t the only Big Green player to earn accolades for his performance in the 38-31 win over Yale on Oct. 11. Junior QB Dalyn Williams received the Gold Helmet Award as the top FCS player in New England for the week after completing 32-of-47 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns — all career-best stats. In addition, he provided the winning margin with his two-yard dive into the end zone with 2:20 to play, breaking a 31-31 tie. His 13 rushing yards pushed him over 1,000 in his career, making him just the second quarterback in Dartmouth history to reach the milestone. And with seven more yards on the ground, he will be the school’s all-time leader.

Yale Facts Unlocked

  • Dartmouth won its third straight against the Bulldogs, its best streak in the series since ripping off nine in a row from 1990-98.
  • It marked the first time since Nov. 22, 1997, that the Big Green won a game with less than 50 yards rushing (46).
  • Junior LB Will McNamara set a career-high in tackles for the second straight week, this time with 15 against the Bulldogs.
  • The last time a Dartmouth QB threw for 300 yards came two years ago against Harvard when Alex Park aired it out for 310 yards before being removed due to an injury.
  • That Harvard game was also the last time a receiver had at least 150 yards (Michael Reilly, 165).
  • Both senior Bo Patterson and junior Victor Williams caught a career-high seven passes.
  • Dartmouth’s three interceptions were the most by the defense since picking off three passes against Cornell two years ago.
  • For the last punt returned for a touchdown, you have to go back three years to the Sacred Heart game when Shawn Abuhoff set the school record with a 90-yard return — his fourth and final TD on a punt return in his career.

Picking It Up
Through the first three games, the Dartmouth defense had recorded two interceptions. Against Yale on Oct. 11, the Big Green bested that total with three interceptions. The first came courtesy of senior strong safety Troy Donahue, who returned his pick 45 yards with just seconds left in the first half. The next one was grabbed by junior corner Vernon Harris, surprisingly the first of his career, to set up Dartmouth’s first score in the second half. Finally, senior free safety Stephen Dazzo plucked a pass out of the air in the fourth quarter, which led to the game-tying field goal with 7:30 to play.

Two Reach 1,000 Yards
One Big Green player surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards against Yale, another topped 1,000 career receiving yards. Junior Dalyn Williams ended the day with just 13 yards on the ground, but it was enough to boost his career total to 1,009, making him just the second Dartmouth QB to reach four figures (and also leaves him seven yards shy of passing the QB record set by Jon Aljancic ’97).

Senior Ryan McManus didn’t need a career day to reach 1,000 receiving yards, but he left no doubt about whether he reached the mark with his 188 yards on 12 catches. He finished the game with 1,156 yards, ranking 15th among the 18 players to amass 1,000 at Dartmouth. With 268 more yards, McManus will move into the top 10.

Quick Hitters

  • Dartmouth has won three of its first four games, yet its opponent has accumulated more yards on offense in each contest.
  • Buddy Teevens is coaching his 145th Big Green game this week, surpassing legendary Bob Blackman for the most in school history.
  • McManus is about to have more company in the 1,000-receiving-yard club — senior Bo Patterson is 12 yards shy of the milestone.
  • Dalyn Williams is tied for fourth all-time at Dartmouth with 26 TD passes and needs just two more to move into third all by himself.
  • The Big Green have won five straight league games, tied for the sixth-longest active streak among FCS schools.
  • Yale managed to sack Williams seven times, yet Dartmouth pulled out the victory. Since 1974, the Big Green are just 3-18 when getting sacked at least seven times in a game.

Gakenheimer On Target
Since taking over field goal and PAT duties late last season as a freshman, Alex Gakenheimer has proven to be quite accurate. While he has missed a pair of PATs out of 28 attempts (one of which was blocked), he has converted all seven field goal attempts with a long of 41 yards against Penn. He is fourth in scoring among kickers in the Ivy League with 27 points.

Lyons on the Tackle ... Again
Generally speaking, coaches would prefer their kickoff specialist to not be involved on a tackle for two reasons — it generally means the opposition will have very good field position, and kickers are not generally known for their bulk. But senior Riley Lyons, a linebacker in his high school days, doesn't think that way, and it showed at Yale. The 5-11, 185-pound kicker brought down three Bulldogs on kickoff coverages, twice inside the Yale 30, and he saved his best shot for last on a flying tackle. Although that last one did earn him an iced shoulder after the game ...

Which is Better?
Which would you prefer the Big Green to do: throw for 300 yards or run for 270 yards? Over the last 40 years, Dartmouth has accomplished each roughly the same number of times. But while the team’s record in those 300-yard passing games is 14-16-1, in the 270-yard rushing games its record is 28-2. Now which would you prefer?

Red Zone is the Green Zone
Dartmouth has made it inside the opponent’s 20-yard line 15 times in the four games this season and has come away with points on the board in each instance (12 TDs, 3 FGs). Only Princeton can match that success rate with 14 TDs and three field goals in 17 trips into the red zone.