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Game Day Central

Date & Time: Saturday, November 1, 3:30 p.m. Dartmouth Stats Harvard
Location: Hanover, N.H. // Weather 5-1, 3-0 Record 6-0, 3-0
Stadium: Memorial Field Won 4 Streak Won 10
All-Time Series: Crimson lead 67-45-5 29.0 Points/Game 32.3
Tickets: Information 366.0 Total Yards 475.3
Broadcast: NBC Sports Regional Networks and ILDN - Eric Frede, Brian Mann 207.2 Passing/Game 264.8
Radio: 99Rock // WFRD 99.3 FM - Dick Lutsk, Wayne Young 158.8 Rushing/Game 210.5
Logistics: Directions // Parking // Seating Chart 431.7 Yards Allowed 291.7
Twitter: @DartmouthSports // @DartFootball 24.8 Points Allowed 10.5
Dartmouth Links: Home // Roster // Schedule // Stats // Teevens Teleteaser // Notes (PDF) 88.5% Red Zone % 86.4%
Harvard Links: Home // Roster // Schedule // Stats // Notes (PDF) 29:04  Time of Possession  30:56
Game Program Sean Ronan feature (PDF) 44.0 Penalty Yards

1997 All Over Again
Everything comes full circle.

When Harvard came to Hanover exactly 17 years ago, Dartmouth had won five of the previous seven meetings with the Crimson, tying another, and was within six games of tying the all-time series. The two teams were deadlocked atop the Ivy standings with identical 3-0 marks, and the game had all the makings of a classic.

It was not to be for the Big Green, unfortunately, as Harvard handed the hosts a humbling 24-0 defeat and went on to win the conference championship with an unblemished record while Dartmouth finished second at 6-1. Including that game, the Crimson have won at least a share of seven league titles and 16 of the 17 meetings between the two.

Channels Airing the Game
Comcast SportsNet (CSN) New England
(alternate stations)
The Comcast Network (TCN) Philadelphia
SportsNet New York (SNY)
CSN Mid-Atlantic
CSN Bay Area
CSN California

Fast forward to today and the Big Green have the opportunity to exorcise their Harvard demons by avenging that defeat back in 1997 and taking control of the Ivy League standings. The last time Dartmouth sat atop the standings at the conclusion of the season? That would be 1996, the year prior to the Crimson’s run of success in the series.

Last week Dartmouth came away with a fourth-straight victory by defeating host Columbia on the Lions’ homecoming, 27-7. Junior QB Dalyn Williams got the game off to heal, so senior Alex Park stepped in to make his first start since throwing for 310 yards against Harvard two years ago and didn’t miss a beat. He completed a career-high 29 passes in 42 attempts for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Williams had started the previous 18 games and as a junior already ranks among the all-time Big Green quarterbacks. He is third in career total yardage (4,795) and sixth in passing (3,722), and no QB in program history has run for more than his 1,073 yards.

With the starting trio of wide receivers — senior Ryan McManus, Bo Patterson and Victor Williams — the QB Williams has plenty of targets. McManus is third in the league in receptions (39) and receiving yards (530), while the other two have each caught two scoring strikes this season.

The Big Green also have a solid ground game with Kyle Bramble shouldering the load. The junior is second among Ivy runners with 106 rushes and 510 yards, a 4.8-yard average. He is also an accomplished receiver with 19 grabs for 153 yards and a team-high four touchdowns.

The Dartmouth defense, led by the Ivy’s leading tackler in linebacker Will McNamara, has shown a penchant for bending but not breaking. Although opponents have outgained the Big Green every Saturday save the Columbia game, only second-ranked New Hampshire has been able to defeat Dartmouth. And the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week in three of the last four weeks has come from Hanover, including McNamara after the Columbia victory.

Last year, Harvard squeaked out a 24-21 win in Cambridge when Andrew Flesher converted a 23-yard field goal with 48 seconds to play. It was the closest margin of victory in the series since the Crimson won by a single point, 13-12, at Memorial Field in 2004.

Scouting the Crimson
Harvard has had Dartmouth’s number for the past decade and is looking to run its streak to 11 with a perfect 6-0 mark on the season to go with their unblemished 3-0 league record.

The Crimson were able to survive without their starting quarterback, Conner Hempel, for four weeks as Scott Hosch set up behind center without missing a beat. The understudy has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for over 1,000 yards, but Hempel returned last Saturday and helped Harvard thump host Princeton by a final of 49-7. The senior completed 25-of-31 throws for 382 yards and three touchdowns while running for 52 more yards and a pair of scores.

Joining Hempel in the backfield are running backs in Paul Stanton, Andrew Casten and Semar Smith. Casten leads the Crimson with 447 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this season, but it was Stanton (18 for 105 yards, 1 TD) and Smith (12 for 124 yards) that torched the Tiger defense. As a team, Harvard averages 210 yards a game on the ground.

The two favorite targets at whom to throw are wide receiver Andrew Fischer (36 catches, 393 yards 2 TDs) and tight end Anthony Firkser (24 catches, 375 yards, 3 TDs). But the Big Green also will have to keep tabs on wideout Seitu Smith and reserve tight end Ben Braunecker, both of whom are capable of the big play.

The Crimson defense is the stingiest in the league and second among FCS schools having yielded 10.5 points every Saturday. Not one opponent has scored 20 points against Harvard, which has surrendered less than an average of 80 yards on the ground. Only six teams have allowed fewer yards as well.

This is a team that knows how to get in the backfield and be disruptive with 30 tackles for a loss this season, including 16 sacks. Defensive end Zack Hodges may have just 15 tackles, but he leads the league with 5.5 sacks. Four linebackers have at least 30 tackles, led by Matt Koran with 39. The Crimson may only have three interceptions, but they have forced nine fumbles and recovered four.

Harvard is coached by Tim Murphy, now in his 21st year in Cambridge and 26th overall as a collegiate head coach. The boyhood friend of Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens is 143-62 during his Crimson tenure with seven Ivy championships to his credit, and 175-107-1 in a career that has included stints at Maine and Cincinnati.

Dartmouth Getting Votes in Polls
Harvard has been ranked in the last three national polls and enters this game 18th by the coaches and 20th by The Sports Network. But the Crimson aren’t the only Ivy League team getting noticed as Dartmouth and Yale are among the others schools receiving votes. The Big Green are 37th by the coaches and 36th by The Sports Network, while the Bulldogs are 39th and 49th, respectively.

Playing a Ranked Opponent
This is the second time Dartmouth will clash with a ranked opponent, having suffered its only loss to then-fourth-ranked New Hampshire (now second in one poll). But one only has to go back to the season finale of 2013 to find the last time the Green defeated a ranked team when they beat 19th-ranked Princeton at Memorial Field, 28-24, handing the Tigers their only league loss and forcing them to share the Ivy title with Harvard.

McNamara Earns Defensive Honor
After the 27-7 victory at Columbia on Oct. 25, junior LB Will McNamara was chosen as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for his game-high 11 tackles and interception. It was the second weekly honor of his career, the other coming after last year’s 56-0 blowout of the Lions. His other two career interceptions came in that game, and he returned both for touchdowns.

Eight Straight Weeks with POTW
Speaking of Player of the Week honors, one Big Green player has been selected as an Ivy POTW after each of the six games thus far this season. Going back to last year, the streak sits at eight straight weeks. Dartmouth had never gone more than four consecutive weeks with a weekly honor for one of its players. This season, only Yale has more weekly winners with eight, while 0-6 Cornell is tied with Dartmouth with six.

Park Proves He Still Has It
The last time senior QB Alex Park started a game, it was Nov. 3, 2012, and he threw for 310 yards against Harvard. But he was knocked out of that game, and Dalyn Williams took over the job and started the next 18 contests. With Williams dealing with some nagging bumps and bruises, Park once again got the nod at Columbia on Oct. 25, almost two years since his last start. Entering the game 0-for-3 passing on the season, all he did was complete a career-high 29 throws for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Park now has 1,969 yards through the air, passing four Big Green QBs on the all-time list (including head coach Buddy Teevens) to move into 18th all-time. He also improved his completion rate to 62.3 percent, the best in program history.

Patterson Tops 1,000 Yards
This has been a year of Big Green players reaching 1,000 yards in some form or fashion, and senior WR Bo Patterson is the latest to hit the mark. With his 58 receiving yards on four catches at Columbia, he became the 19th Dartmouth player to reach 1,000 yards in his career. He is currently 18th on the list with 1,046 to his credit. With another 144, he’ll move into the top 15.

(B)ramble for 100
One week after setting a personal best with 113 rushing yards on 23 carries on Oct. 18 against Holy Cross, junior RB Kyle Bramble topped that with 126 yards on the same amount of handoffs in a 27-7 win at Columbia on Oct. 25. It was his third 100-yard game of the season and fourth of his career, but first on the road. He enters the Harvard game ranked second in the league with 510 rushing yards and needs 153 more to reach 1,000 in his career.

To the Victor Goes the Spoils
Entering the Columbia game, junior WR Victor Williams had caught 51 passes in his career with nary a touchdown. That changed in the second quarter when he finally reached the promised land on an 11-yard slant to make it a 17-0 ball game. Apparently he enjoyed the feeling so much he scored another touchdown on his very next reception just before halftime, this time from 13 yards out. He is the only Big Green player this year with two receiving touchdowns in a game.

Tackling Opportunities
Junior LB Will McNamara has recorded double-digit tackles in each of the last four games and leads the Ivy League with 10.8 stops per game. That average also ranks 11th among FCS players.

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 31 attempts (one of which was blocked), he has converted all 10 field goal attempts with a long of 41 yards against Penn. He is second in scoring among kickers in the Ivy League with 42 points and just one of seven FCS kickers with at least one field goal per game and nary a miss.

Team National Rankings

  • Dartmouth is ninth among FCS schools (and second only to Yale in the Ivy League) in third-down conversion rate (49.4 percent, 43-of-87).
  • The Big Green have rarely hurt themselves with penalties thanks to the ninth fewest penalties per game (4.67) in the FCS and the 15th fewest penalty yards per game (44.0).
  • Thanks to senior Kirby Schoenthaler, Dartmouth ranks ninth in kickoff return average at 24.6 yards. Schoenthaler has had returns of 56 and 92 yards this season, boosting him into sixth at nearly 30 yards per return.
  • Even with three turnovers last week, the Big Green are 22nd in the nation in turnover margin (0.67). The defense has picked off nine passes and recovered two fumbles while coughing it up seven times.

Infrequent Interceptions
When Dartmouth tossed two interceptions at Columbia on Oct. 25, it doubled the team’s season total to four, which is tied for 11th lowest in the nation. Going back over the last four seasons, Big Green QBs have thrown just 22 interceptions in 1,035 attempts, a total bested by just two others teams — The Citadel (16) and Cal Poly (18) — though neither have thrown anywhere near as many passes (458 and 685, respectively).