DARTMOUTH (3-0, 1-0) vs. YALE (3-0, 1-0)
MEMORIAL FIELD, HANOVER, N.H.
SATURDAY, OCT. 10, 2015 • 1:30 P.M.
Televison: Fox College Sports (Dish 449, DirecTV 608)
Radio: 99Rock WFRD (99.3 FM)
Clash of Unbeatens on Homecoming
In a season that will hopefully be full of big games for Dartmouth, this showdown against Yale is one of the biggest. Both teams enter the game undefeated with hopes of winning the Ivy League title, but only one will finish the day on the inside track toward the lofty accomplishment.
The Big Green have won three straight meetings with the Bulldogs, including last year’s thrilling 38-31 comeback victory at the Yale Bowl. Dalyn Williams threw for a career-high 388 yards on 32-of-47 passing and scored the game-winning touchdown with 2:20 to play on his two-yard dive into the end zone.
Williams was at his best again last week, helping the Big Green end an eight-game skid at Franklin Field in a 41-20 triumph over Penn. The senior QB lit up the Quakers for 336 yards on 23-of-25 passing (92.0 percent broke a school record that stood for 53 years) and four touchdowns, plus ran for 73 yards and a pair of scores on 13 carries. His performance earned him national FCS player of the week honors by STATS and the College Football Performance Awards.
The reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, wide receiver Victor Williams, was even better in the Ivy opener. For the second straight week, the senior set career highs in both receptions (12) and receiving yards (213), the latter just six shy of the school record set 33 years ago, plus hauled in two touchdowns. He is third nationally in both receptions per game (9.3) and receiving yards per game (135.3).
Williams couldn’t pick a better time to put up those numbers as Ryan McManus sat out the last two games with an ankle sprain. Last year he earned first-team All-Ivy status as both a wide receiver and return specialist, and he is expected back in the lineup against the Bulldogs, a team he ran roughshod over last year with 12 catches for 188 yards and a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.
The Dartmouth offense ranks eighth in the FCS in scoring (40.3), and it hasn’t all happened through the air. Dalyn Williams leads the team with 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns, but a number of running backs have contributed to the 154-yard average on the ground, including Ryder Stone (17 carries, 122 yards) and Brian Grove (20-88). With the return of All-Ivy Second Teamer Kyle Bramble, the Big Green have numerous options in the backfield.
The defense has been no slouch, holding opponents to 12.3 points a game (second nationally) and actually had scored more points (18) than the opposition (17) in the first two games. No less than 10 seniors start on defense, but it is junior linebacker Folarin Orimolade that has provided the biggest plays, leading the league in sacks and tackles for a loss.
Dartmouth has been quite opportunistic as well, leading the nation in turnover margin at 2.3 while forcing 10 turnovers overall. Free safety David Caldwell has been a bit of a ball hawk, pouncing on two fumbles and picking off a pass already this season.
Junior Ben Kepley has been terrific punting with a net of 38.8 yards, though he got last week off as the Big Green did not punt even once against the Quakers. And his high school teammate, Alex Gakenheimer, is 1-of-2 on field goals and 16-of-17 on PATs with the one miss being blocked at Penn.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Like Dartmouth, Yale enters this game undefeated with a 3-0 mark and a 1-0 record in Ivy League play. Unlike the Big Green, which have won each of their games by at least 21 points, the Bulldogs had to eke out their first two wins, beating Colgate by a single point, 28-27, and rallying from 10 down in the fourth quarter against Cornell to win in the final minute, 33-26.
This past week, Yale made things a little easier on itself, cruising to a 27-12 victory over Lehigh despite several key players sitting out with injuries. Tailback Candler Rich averaged 61 rushing yards in the first two games, but may have gotten Wally Pipp-ed as Deshawn Salter exploded for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 carries in the win over the Mountain Hawks.
The Bulldogs have a number of offensive weapons at their disposal, as evidenced by their 457.7 yards per game, 14th among FCS teams. Quarterback Morgan Roberts, an All-Ivy Second Team selection in 2014, is off to another great start. He leads the league in passing yards (305 per game) and total yards (313.7) while completing 60.8 percent of his passes with seven scores against a pair of picks.
The running game is exclusively the realm of Rich and Salter, though Roberts has shown the ability to run despite being sacked nine times thus far. As a team the Elis are averaging just over 150 yards on the ground at over four yards a clip.
Roberts will spread his passes around, and there will be quite a few of them having thrown more than 40 per contest. But not one receiver hauls in more than five a game, led by Michael Siragusa, Jr. and Robert Clemons III with 14 apiece for a combined 348 yards and four scores.
When it comes to defense, linebacker Victor Egu leads the team with 26 tackles and can both rush the quarterback and drop back into coverage effectively. He and defensive back Hayden Carlson have the two lone interceptions for the Bulldogs. Dartmouth will have to keep an eye on Matthew Oplinger, who will blitz from his free safety position, and defensive end Marty Moesta, both of whom have a pair of sacks.
Bryan Holmes, averaging 40 yards on punts and converting 4-of-6 field goals with a long of 44 this year, handles the kicking game. On returns, Jamal Locke is dangerous on kickoffs, having brought one back 84 yards just shy of the end zone. But the true special part of the special teams has been four blocked kicks, three on field goal attempts.
Now in his fourth year as the Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Football, Tony Reno brought the Bulldogs to the brink of a share of the Ivy League title last year before coming up just short in a tough loss to rival Harvard in the final game. Reno, 18-15 during his stint, is a 1997 graduate of Worcester State College and was hired at Yale as an assistant in 2003 after a successful five-year stint at his alma mater. He also spent three years at Harvard before returning to New Haven to take the head coaching position.
With the 41-20 victory at Penn on Oct. 3, Dartmouth improved to 3-0 on the season for the first time since the 1997 campaign. That team went on to win its first five contests before suffering a defeat. The only other Big Green team to start 3-0 in the last 35 years was the 1996 squad that went on to post a perfect 10-0 record. In the Ivy era (since 1956), Dartmouth had started 3-0 a total of 16 times previously, and went on to win the league title nine times.
Here’s a closer look at Dalyn Williams’ stellar performance in a 41-20 win at Penn on Oct. 3:
- Set a school record by completing 92 percent of his passes (23-of-25). The previous record was held by Bill King since the 1962 season.
- Topped 300 yards (336) for the second straight week and the fifth time in his career. Only three other Dartmouth QBs — Jay Fiedler ’94, Brian Mann ’02 and Greg Smith ’02 — have had back-to-back 300-yard games, and no one has done it three straight.
- Posted 409 total yards, just the sixth time a Big Green topped 400. Williams has done it three times.
- Became first Dartmouth passer to top 300 yards against Penn, the last Ivy opponent to let a Green QB do so.
- Led Dartmouth to its first win at Penn since 1997.
- Named national FCS Offensive Player of the Week by STATS, College Football Performance Awards and College Sporting News, as well as Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week for the fifth time in his career. Also earned the Gold Helmet Award from the New England Football Writers for a second time.
MVP on Late Show with Colbert
The “Mobile Virtual Player,” or MVP, has garnerd a lot of interest nationally. The remote-controlled tackling dummy was developed over the past two years by students in Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering (former defensive lineman Elliot Kastner and former rugby player Quinn Connell) under the supervision of Professor John Currier with Buddy Teevens providing the impetus for inventing it. On Thursday night, Coach Teevens and the MVP appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Designed to help reduce the number of concussions and other injuries incurred from tackling teammates in practice, the MVP has garnered interest from around the globe from the NFL, to rugby teams to Australian Rules Football teams. For more information on the MVP, visit mobiletacklingtarget.com.
Franklin Field Hex Over
Until Dartmouth defeated the Quakers on their home field on Oct. 3, the Big Green had not won in Philadelphia since the 1997 season. They had lost eight straight contests on Franklin Field, which was the longest drought on any opposing Ivy site. Now that distinction belongs to Harvard, which has won five straight at Harvard Stadium, a streak Dartmouth will have a shot at ending on Oct. 30.
Don’t Forget This Williams
Dalyn Williams may have stolen the spotlight last week against Penn, but there is another Williams on the squad putting up eye-popping numbers — wide receiver Victor Williams. The senior earned the Gold Helmet Award against Sacred Heart in week two with 11 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Against the Quakers the very next week, he outdid himself in every way, setting career highs again with 12 receptions for 213 yards (second-most all-time at Dartmouth) and two touchdowns. He currently is third nationally in both receptions per game (9.3) and receiving yards per game (135.3).
In its last 16 games, the Dartmouth football team has gone 14-2 with its lone losses coming against a pair of nationally ranked teams during the 2014 season — New Hampshire (fourth at the time) and Harvard (18th). The Big Green also beat a ranked team during this stretch, handing Princeton a 28-24 defeat in the final game of the 2013 season. Dartmouth is knocking on the door of the national top-25 rankings, earning 31 points in the STATS FCS poll to rank 34th.
The Dartmouth defense has been particulary stingy over the past few seasons. Two years ago, the Big Green ranked among the top 10 FCS schools in points allowed at 19.5 per game. In 2014, they remained in the top 20 at 21.0. But this year, Dartmouth is tied for second having yielded a mere 12.3 points each Saturday. Only McNeese State has bested that mark at a miniscule 6.8. And the team the Green are tied with? Ivy League foe Harvard, with Princeton fifth at 12.7.
Going on the Offense
For the fifth time in the last six games dating back to last year, Dartmouth scored at least 40 points in a game when it beat Penn on Oct. 3, 41-20. And the 49-7 win the week before against Sacred Heart was the fourth-largest margin of victory for the Big Green in the past 45 seasons (biggest being a 56-0 win over Columbia two years ago). Dartmouth is averaging 40.3 points a game three games in, good for eighth in the country. Since WWII, no other Big Green team has scored as many points in its first three games as this one (121).
Bramble Returns to the Field
A 2014 second-team All-Ivy pick at running back, Kyle Bramble missed the first two games of the season with an injury before making his 2015 debut at Penn. The senior was eased back into the rotation, carrying the ball 13 times for 36 yards and catching four passes for 17 yards. His second run of the afternoon made him the 27th player in Dartmouth history with 1,000 career rushing yards.
Go With the Flo
Linebacker Folarin Orimolade, “Flo,” has been a terror to Ivy offenses during his three seasons in Hanover. The junior from Burtonsville, Maryland, leads the league in per game averages for tackles for a loss (1.5), forced fumbles (0.7) and sacks (0.8), all of which also place him among the top 25 nationally.
Give It Away Now
In three games this season, the Big Green have forced 10 turnovers while coughing it up just three times themselves. That margin of 2.3 per game to the positive side is the best among FCS schools. And the four fumbles recovered against Sacred Heart were the most since a wild 59-31 win over Cornell in 2007.