DARTMOUTH (2-0, 0-0) at PENN (1-1, 0-0)
FRANKLIN FIELD, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
SATURDAY, OCT. 3, 2015 • 3:30 P.M.
Ivy Opener with Intrigue
Penn may have won 15 of the last 17 meetings with Dartmouth, but after last year’s convincing 31-13 Big Green victory and the preseason poll pegging Dartmouth for second and the Quakers for sixth, many people were penciling in a win for the team from the Upper Valley. But after Penn shocked the FCS world by defeating fourth-ranked Villanova last week, this game has suddenly become the unofficial Ivy League game of the week.
Dartmouth, for its part, has thumped both of its first two opponents by a combined score of 80-17. Last week, Sacred Heart was victimized in the Big Green’s home opener, falling behind 35-0 by halftime before the game came to a close at 49-7.
Quarterback Dalyn Williams demonstrated the form that put him on a pair of preseason player of the year watch lists, posting his fourth career 300-yard passing game. He connected on 21-of-28 throws for 313 yards and one touchdown, extending his streak of passes without an interception to 156 dating back to last year.
Again the running duties were split pretty evenly with the absence of All-Ivy tailback Kyle Bramble. Sophomore Ryder Stone, senior Brian Grove and Williams combined for 22 rushes for 146 yards and four touchdowns.
Not only was Bramble unavailable, neither was All-Ivy receiver Ryan McManus. That allowed Victor Williams to stand out from the other receivers, posting career highs with 11 receptions and 178 yards while beating the defense for a career-long 60-yard touchdown. His performance garnered him the Gold Helmet Award as the top FCS player from the New England region. No less than 10 other players caught one or two passes, including three seniors who registered their first receptions — Dan Gorman, Jay Moran and Jvonte Brooks.
On defense the Big Green were as stout as ever, surrendering just one touchdown that came late in the third quarter with the outcome not in doubt. The key was forcing mistakes and pouncing on them as the Pioneers turned it over five times, four on fumbles. One of those fumbles was fallen on in the end zone by senior Cody Fulleton for the first Dartmouth touchdown.
Since the Big Green scoring began with a turnover, senior David Caldwell made sure the game wrapped up that way as he recorded his first career interception and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The free safety also broke up two other passes and made seven stops. Cornerback Vernon Harris was the leading tackler with a career-high 10, helping to make up for the absence of linebacker Will McNamara, who was nursing an injury but is expected to return to the field against the Quakers.
Special teams have been solid in the two games this season with placekicker Alex Gakenheimer perfect on 11 PATs (seven last week) and his lone field goal at Georgetown, and punter Ben Kepley averaging 41.6 yards on punts with a net of 39.3. Dartmouth did not get much of a chance to return kicks against the Pioneers, which was a good thing for SHU as the Big Green are fourth nationally in punt returns (22.2 yards per return) and 22nd in kickoff returns (24.8).
Scouting the Quakers
Penn is the talk of the Ivy League this week after knocking off fourth-ranked Villanova last Thursday, 24-13. The Quakers, picked to finish sixth in the conference standings, ended a 14-game losing streak against the Wildcats that dated back to 1911.
So how did a team that got doubled up by Lehigh in the season opener, 42-21, manage to pull off this stunner? Let’s start with a tremendous defensive effort that limited Villanova to two first downs and 29 total yards in the first half as the Quakers built up a 14-0 lead.
The offense, guided by quarterback Alek Torgersen, controlled the ball most of the afternoon with five drives of at least five minutes, and three over six minutes. Torgersen threw for 171 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns to Justin Watson, who did not play in the second half due to an injury.
The running game was unspectacular but effective with the tag team of Brian Schoenauer (61 yards) and Tre Solomon (51) helping eat the clock. By the time the horn sounded, Penn had held the ball for nearly 40 of the 60 minutes.
But the Quakers did not play a flawless game, failing to score from the red zone on three occasions thanks to a missed 33-yard field goal, an interception and a failed fourth-down attempt. Yet Penn won the turnover battle by picking off one pass and forcing two fumbles, the last of which came in the fourth quarter at the Quaker 10.
For the season, Torgersen has been very effective, completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 507 yards and four touchdowns against two interceptions. Watson is listed as a starter at wide receiver this week, and the Quakers could use his services as he has three times as many receptions and four times as many yards as any other teammate.
The defense is run by the linebackers with the top three tacklers all coming from that position with Colton Maskai leading the squad with 17 stops. Donald Panciello has been everywhere with 15 tackles, two for a loss and a 90-yard fumble return against Villanova last week.
Penn began a new era this year with a new head coach in Ray Priore who replaced legendary Al Bagnoli, the Ivy League’s winningest coach. Priore has been a part of Quaker football for 10 Ivy titles in 28 seasons on the staff, including the last 16 as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
Gold Helmet to the Victor
After posting career highs with 11 catches and 178 receiving yards with a 60-yard touchdown against Sacred Heart on Sept. 26, senior wide receiver Victor Williams was honored with the Gold Helmet Award from the New England Football Writers’ Association as the weekly top Division I player from the region. In addition to his 60-yard TD, he also caught passes of 37, 32 and 20 yards during the game before departing the game late in the third quarter. The 178 yards are the 10th most by a Dartmouth player.
Best Offense is a Good Defense
At a quick glance, it is easy to see that Dartmouth has had a good defensive effort thus far having surrendered just 17 points in two games, ranking second among FCS teams in points allowed per game (8.5). But the defense hasn’t just prevented points, it has scored them as well. So many that it has actually outscored the opposition with 18 points on three touchdowns (two interception returns, one fumble recovery in the end zone).
Offense is Also a Good Offense
For the fourth time in the last five games dating back to last year, Dartmouth scored at least 40 points in a game when it beat Sacred Heart on Sept. 26, 49-7. The 42-point margin was the fourth-largest for the Big Green in the past 45 seasons with the biggest coming two years ago against Columbia, 56-0, The largest margin against a non-conference foe was against Holy Cross (48-0) in 1992.
Dalyn Williams posted the fourth 300-yard game of his career when he completed 21-of-28 throws for 313 yards in the 49-7 win over Sacred Heart on Sept. 26. Only Jay Fiedler ’94 had more in a career, collecting five in his junior and senior seasons. Both Brian Mann ’02 and Greg Smith ’02 also had four for the Big Green. And of the 28 300-yard games by a Dartmouth quarterback, only one Ivy team has not been victimized — this week’s opponent, Penn. Williams came close two years ago, throwing for 292 yards in the 37-31 loss in four overtimes.
35 Points in a Half
The Big Green put 35 points on the board in the first half of the 49-7 win over Sacred Heart on Sept. 26. The last time they scored that many in any half of play came 20 years ago against Colgate in the 1995 season. That Dartmouth team also scored 35 in the opening half, then coasted to a 35-14 triumph.
Numerous seniors got a chance to shine in the 49-7 win over Sacred Heart on Sept. 26:
• Cody Fulleton scored his first career touchdown when he fell on a fumble in the end zone for the first score of the game.
• David Caldwell not only recorded his first interception, but he went ahead and brought it back 77 yards — tied for the fifth-longest in program history — for his first touchdown as well.
• Jvonte Brooks, Dan Gorman and Jonathan Moran all hauled in their first career receptions.
• Vernon Harris hit double-digits in tackles for the first time with a career-high 10 stops.
What makes the 49-7 win over Sacred Heart on Sept. 26 even more impressive is that Dartmouth played without three of its stars, two of whom are captains. Ryan McManus, among the Big Green’s top-10 receivers all-time, Will McNamara, a unanimous All-Ivy pick at linebacker last year, and Kyle Bramble, eight yards shy of 1,000 in his career, all sat out the contest while nursing injuries. The good news is that all of them are expected to be ready to go in the Ivy opener against Penn.
Heneghan Gets a Taste
With the game well in hand against Sacred Heart, Dalyn Williams got to sit out the fourth quarter to give Jack Heneghan some snaps in a varsity game for the first time. The sophomore attempted nine passes, completing five for 39 yards, including a 30-yard toss to senior Dan Gorman.
Take It Away Now
Dartmouth leads all FCS teams in turnover margin through its first two games, averaging three more takeaways per game. Sacred Heart helped out by fumbling the ball away four separate times, the most by a Big Green opponent since Cornell lost five fumbles in the notorious 59-31 victory in 2007.
Not Willing to Share
For the second time in his career, Dalyn Williams is working on a lengthy streak of not throwing an interceptions. His last pick came early in a game last year at Cornell, and has since tossed 156 consecutive passes without it going to the opposition. He would likely need to go at least another two games to match his longest streak that happened at the beginning of his career — 216.
With his 357 total yards against Sacred Heart, Dalyn Williams passed Brian Mann ’02 for second place on Dartmouth’s career list. The senior has amassed 6,663 yards 145 more than Mann. To pass Jay Fiedler ’94, Williams will need 587 more yards on the ground and/or through the air.