DARTMOUTH (4-0) at CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE (2-4)
ARUTE FIELD, NEW BRITAIN, CONN.
SATURDAY, OCT. 17, 2015 • Noon
LIve Video: NEC Front Row
Live Audio: Ivy League Digital Network and iHeart Radio
Radio: 99Rock WFRD (99.3 FM)
Final Game Outside of Ivy
The Dartmouth steamroller brings its explosive offense and suffocating defense to New Britain this Saturday to take on a Northeast Conference foe in Central Connecticut State. The Big Green have won seven straight games dating back to last season, all by at least 21 points, and are one of just eight unbeaten teams remaining in the FCS (three of which are in the Ivy League).
In the first meeting between these two schools on the gridiron, Dartmouth survived its season opener with a 35-25 victory over a Blue Devils team playing its fourth game. CCSU took a 19-7 lead in the second quarter, but the Big Green scored four straight touchdowns to rally for the win.
Dartmouth is coming off a 35-3 shellacking of Yale last Saturday on homecoming and ranks 11th in the FCS in scoring at 39.0 points per game. Quarterback Dalyn Williams is a big reason for the offensive output, averaging over 300 yards a game through the air (seventh in FCS) while throwing 10 touchdowns with nary an interception.
Against the Bulldogs, Williams put on a display as he broke the school single-game passing record with 435 yards while completing 29-of-53 throws to go with four scores and earn Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
No one receiver dominated the stat sheet this week, though senior Ryan McManus — who had missed two games with an ankle injury — returned to haul in six passes for 116 yards, and junior Jon Marc Carrier enjoyed his first career 100-yard game (six catches, 103 yards). And Victor Williams nearly made it three 100-yard receivers with five grabs for 91 yards. But tight end Cameron Skaff got the glory with his first two career touchdowns among his three catches.
The running game has been by committe thus far, though Kyle Bramble is re-establishing himself after missing the first two games with an injury. The senior carried the ball just eight times, but galloped for 85 yards, plus caught a shovel pass and took it 17 yards for a touchdown against the Bulldogs. Williams leads the team in rushing yardage (168) and has run for four scores.
As impressive as the offense was against Yale, the defense was perhaps even better. The Bulldogs managed just 276 yards in the game, about 180 under their season average entering the game. And the three points were the fewest for Yale since getting shut out by Brown three years ago.
Free safety David Caldwell earned Ivy Defensive Player of the Week honors by leading the Big Green with seven tackles and breaking up five passes, two via interceptions. The two picks both came in the red zone to keep Yale from crossing the goal line.
Caldwell’s 25 tackles this year are second only to senior corner Vernon Harris, and junior linebacker Folarin Orimolade has 20 stops, six going for a loss with a league-best four sacks. As a unit, the Dartmouth defense has completely stymied the run game, yielding an FCS-low 66.0 yards per game on the ground, while allowing an average of just over 300 total yards (18th nationally) and 10 points (tied for 2nd).
The opportunistic nature of the defense has also given the Big Green the best turnover margin at the FCS level — 2.3 per game (12 forced turnovers, three giveaways). Caldwell has collected five turnovers himself (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries).
Scouting the Blue Devils
If the established pattern holds, Dartmouth should defeat Central Connecticut State in the second meeting between the two. The Blue Devils lost their first two, won their next game, lost two, and most recently beat preseason NEC favorite Bryant in their homecoming game, 35-33.
But patterns aren’t set in stone, and CCSU is coming off a thrilling win, scoring with just 2:15 to play to knock off the Bulldogs. Freshman Tavion Pauldo (yes, freshman, despite playing against Dartmouth last year as well — redshirt after three games) guided the Blue Devils 73 yards in seven plays and about two and a half minutes to pull out the victory.
Quarterback isn’t held down by Pauldo (446 yards on 33-of-54 passing, 4 TD, 2 INT), however, as he splits time with another rookie in Jacob Dolegala (589 yards, 51-of-98, 3 TD, 3 INT). Pauldo is the more mobile of the two (45.5 yards rushing compared to -4.0).
The running game overall is done by a slightly smaller committe than Dartmouth with Cameron Nash and Devon Lofton both taking a handoff 44 times this year, Nash for 278 yards (6.3 average) and Lofton for 217 (4.9).
Dan Hebert is a go-to receiver, leading CCSU with 15 catches for 188 yards and four touchdowns, making him the team’s leading scorer. Five other receivers have between seven and 10 receptions for a team in the bottom third nationally in passing yards.
The defensive unit has surrendered over 460 yards a game, among the bottom 20 in the FCS, with more than 200 on the ground. Safety Najae Brown and linebacker Randall Laguerre have been the busiest Blue Devils with 55 and 53 tackles, respectively. Watch for safety Keir Minor coming on the blitz, and lineman Asia Bolling can penetrate the line to disrupt plays before they even develop.
Ed Groth handles the placekicking and punting duties and has been solid at both. The return game features Jevon Elmore and Nash on kickoffs, and Hebert on punts.
Pete Rossomando (Boston U. ’94) is in his second season in New Britain with a 5-13 record to date. A three-time Northeast-10 Coach of the Year and the 2012 NCAA Division II Coach of the Year during his five-year tenure at the helm of the University of New Haven before taking over the CCSU program.
Since the last time Dartmouth won the Ivy League in 1996, the Big Green have won all three of its non-conference games just once, that coming in 2010. Dartmouth knocked off Bucknell, 43-20, before squeaking past Sacred Heart, 21-19. The Green then defeated Holy Cross, 27-19, to complete the set. A win over CCSU would be just the fourth time Dartmouth won three non-league games since the 10-game schedule was implemented in 1980.
4-0 Start Best in 18 Years
With the 35-3 win over Yale, Dartmouth is off to its best start since the 1997 team began the season at 5-0. This is the 13th time since the advent of Ivy play that the Big Green sport a 4-0 record. In the previous 12 instances, Dartmouth went on to win the league title eight times. A 5-0 start has led to the crown on six of nine occasions, and a 6-0 start has led to the championship all five times.
Ivy Players of the Week
Quarterback Dalyn Williams and free safety David Caldwell were selected as the Ivy League Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, for their performance in the 35-3 rout over Yale on Oct. 10. All Williams did was set a school record with 435 yards through the air with four touchdowns, and another school mark with 453 total yards. Caldwell proved to be a thorn in the Bulldogs’ paw, tying for the team lead with seven tackles while picking off two passes and breaking up three others.
This is the sixth weekly offensive honor for Williams in his career, though the first time he has not shared it with another Ivy player. Caldwell picked up his first weekly award in this his first year as a starter. Through four weeks of action, the Big Green have earned five weekly honors from the league, more than any other Ancient Eight squad.
Four Straight Over Yale
The 35-3 victory over Yale on Oct. 10 was the fourth straight triumph for the Big Green over the Bulldogs and closed the overall gap to 40-53-6 in 99 meeting all-time. Since the start of Ivy play in 1956, the series is deadlocked at 29-29-2, and the 32-point margin was the largest for Dartmouth against Yale since a 40-6 win in 1996.
Separate the Wheat from the Skaff
I have no idea what that means, but sophomore tight end Cameron Skaff separated himself from the other tight ends on the roster by catching the first two touchdowns of his career in the win over Yale. His first score came from eight yards out and gave Dartmouth a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, while his second put the Green up 28-3 in the third quarter on a four-yard grab. Not bad for a guy with just five catches to his credit.
No Problem for This Houston
Speaking of players with five receptions this year, junior Houston Brown has one-upped Skaff by making three of his five hauls put points on the board. And the three have been his last three catches — two at Penn and one against Yale. Brown is tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions with Victor Williams who has 33 catches.
Let’s take a closer look at Dalyn Williams’ statistics from the first two Ivy games:
- Set a school record by completing 92 percent of his passes (23-of-25) against Penn. The previous record was held by Bill King since the 1962 season.
- Set another school record with 435 passing yards against Yale, breaking the mark held by former NFL QB Jay Fiedler ’94.
- Yet another school record: 453 total yards vs. Yale, breaking his own mark. He has also topped 400 yards four times in his career, one more than everyone else combined.
- One of Fiedler’s career records fell as well as Williams passed him in total yards with 7,525.
- Became the first Dartmouth QB to top 300 yards (336 at Penn, 435 vs. Yale) in three straight weeks (had 313 against Sacred Heart).
- Extended his streak of passes without an interception to 234, breaking his own record of 216.
- 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 after the Penn game, plus was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week both weeks, giving him six in his career (one shy of Fiedler’s school record seven). Also earned the Gold Helmet Award from the New England Football Writers for a second time.
As one of eight undefeated teams in the FCS, Dartmouth is scattered throughout the national rankings in numerous categories, both as a team and individually. The Big Green lead the country in both rushing defense (66.0 yards per game allowed) and turnover margin (+2.3), and is one of two teams that has not thrown an interception (Mercer). Dartmouth is also in the top 10 in fumbles recovered (7, 7th), passing offense (318.8 ypg, 7th), completion percentage (66.2, 9th), passing efficiency (162.83, 9th) and team passing efficiency defense (100.02, 10th).
Among the players, David Caldwell leads the nation in passes defended per game (2.0), while the Williamses — Dalyn and Victor — are in the top 10 in eight categories and Folarin Orimolade is sixth in tackles for a loss and eighth in sacks. See the list on page 7 for the individual leaders in the rankings.
Over the last 40 years, Dartmouth has held an opponent to 40 or fewer rushing yards in a game 17 times. Only in two seasons has a Big Green defense accomplished the feat twice — 1990 and 2015. In the season opener, Georgetown managed just 23 yards on the ground, and Yale did not do much better with 32. Dartmouth leads the FCS in rushing defense, having allowed just 66 yards per game.
Dartmouth has won all four of its games by at least 21 points, extending the team’s streak to seven such victories dating back to last year, the longest streak in the program’s history. Only a handful of teams throughout the years have won five straight in that manner in a single season — 1912, ’25, ’27, ’29 and the Lambert Trophy-winning 1970 squad, which won 8-of-9 games by 21 or more points that year.
Dartmouth has thoroughly dominated its opponents this season, so much that it has trailed for a total of only 2:30 in the first four games. Georgetown scored first in the season opener, but the Big Green answered right back to tie the score. Ever since then, Dartmouth has been looking in the rear-view mirror at the opposition.
Bucking a Trend
Generally speaking, running 50 pass plays is not a recipe for success. But the game has changed toward pass-heavy offenses, so that trend may no longer be valid. The Big Green have attempted 50 or more passes in 15 games ever, and only twice did they win, both against Yale (2001 and 2015). Drop the pass attempts to 40 in a game and the record isn’t much better in the last 40 years — 10-48, a .172 winning percentage.
Caldwell Very Well
With his two interceptions against Yale, senior David Caldwell became the first Big Green player to accomplish the feat since Will McNamara did it against Columbia two years ago. And Caldwell’s five passes defended in the game are the second most by any FCS player this year; Taylor Reynolds of James Madison had six against Stony Brook.
Don’t Forget This Williams
Dalyn Williams may have stolen the spotlight 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. The next week against the Quakers, he set career highs again with 12 receptions for 213 yards (second-most all-time at Dartmouth and fifth-most in an FCS game this year) and two touchdowns. He currently is fourth nationally receiving yards per game (124.3) and seventh in receptions per game (8.3).
Freshman quarterback Bruce Dixon IV has seemingly moved into the backup role behind Dalyn Williams after taking the field to close out the win over Yale on Oct. 10. The rookie attempted just one pass and connected, hooking up with fellow freshman Dylan Mellor on a 14-yard throw before taking a knee to run out the clock.
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 10.0 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 sixth at 14.5.
Going on the Offense
In its last seven games, Dartmouth has scored at least 40 points five times, most recently on Oct. 3 at Penn, 41-20. 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 39.0 points a game four games into the season, good for 11th in the country. In the last 80 years, only the 1970 squad that won the Lambert Trophy scored more points (157) than this year’s team (156) in the first four contests.