#24 DARTMOUTH (6-1, 3-1) vs.
CORNELL (0-7, 0-4)
MEMORIAL FIELD, HANOVER, N.H.
FRIDAY, NOV. 6, 2015 • 8 P.M.
Televison: NBC Sports Network (Dish 159, DirecTV 220) — Randy Moss (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (analyst)
Live Audio: Ivy League Digital Network and iHeart Radio — Adam Giardino (play-by-play), Wayne Young ’72 (analyst)
Radio: 99Rock WFRD (99.3 FM)
All-Time Series: Dartmouth leads 57-40-1
Regrouping After a Tough Loss
Coming off one of the most agonizing losses in Dartmouth football history, the 24th-ranked Big Green must find a way to put the disappointment in the rear-view mirror and keep driving toward the goal of winning an Ivy championship. While they don’t control their own destiny, any slip up in the final three games would likely derail that goal.
So, on the 75th anniversary of the famous Fifth-Down Game against Cornell, Dartmouth must take care of business against a struggling Big Red squad, which is still searching for its first win of 2015. The Green have won the last six meetings against Cornell, the last two by a combined score of 76-13.
A scoring outburst would be welcome to the Dartmouth faithful as the team has been held to just 13 points in each of the last two contests after topping 30 in each of the first five. National player of the year candidate Dalyn Williams had a hand in nearly 90 percent of the 401 yards at Harvard, throwing for 311 — surpassing Jay Fiedler to become the program’s all-time leading passer — and running for another 49. But he did not have a touchdown toss for the first time since the last game against the Crimson.
Both Ryan McManus and Victor Williams continued to rack up the receiving numbers as each topped 100 yards. With his 135 yards on nine catches, McManus became the fifth Dartmouth receiver ever with 2,000 career yards. And Williams remained on pace to break the school’s single-season yardage record with 103 more on seven grabs. He needs to average 107 yards over the final three games to claim the mark as his own.
The rushing game beyond Dalyn Williams was a problem, however, as three running backs combined for only 43 yards on 16 carries. Ryder Stone (who leads the team with 274 yards and 5.2 yards per carry) did score the lone Big Green touchdown, taking the ball into the end zone from three yards out late in the first quarter, but Dartmouth is looking for more production from the ground game.
The story of the game, and probably the season, was the play of the defense. Harvard had topped 40 points in each of its first six games, but remained scoreless through 53 minutes of play. Will McNamara would most likely have been the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week with a Big Green win, having amassed 14 tackles while intercepting two Crimson passes in Dartmouth territory.
A unanimous All-Ivy first-teamer last year is third in the league in tackles per game (7.7).
With linebacker Folarin Orimolade (7.0 sacks), and defensive linemen Cody Fulleton (6.5 TFL) and A.J. Zuttah (5.0 TFL) leading the charge, the Big Green are ranked second in the FCS against the rush and seventh in total defense. The entire unit has also forced 19 turnovers, led by free safety David Caldwell with four picks and three fumble recoveries.
Punter Ben Kepley has been consistently reliable, and placekicker Alex Gakenheimer hit two of four field goals at Harvard, although the last attempt came with one second to play from the longest distance (46) he had ever attempted in a college game.
Scouting the Big Red
Cornell may be 0-7 on the year and 0-4 in conference play while being outscored by an average of over 18 points a game. But the Big Red’s first three games were all decided by seven points or less, including a crushing 33-26 loss to Yale in the final minutes of action. With several weapons at its disposal that can cause problems for any team, Cornell cannot be simply regarded as an afterthought.
Start with running back Luke Hagy. The senior is second in the league in rushing at 84.5 yards per game, picking up nearly six yards every time he takes the handoff. He has run for over 2,000 yards in his career, and against Dartmouth last year he ran for 110, the last player to amass even 70 on the ground against the Big Green defense.
Taking the snaps is junior Robert Somborn, who has thrown for 1,449 yards this year, completing 106-of-194 passes with 10 scoring strikes, five coming in the last two games. He made his first collegiate start against Dartmouth last year, connecting on 20-of-33 throws for 182 yards, and this year he has averaged over 200 yards per game.
Of the receivers, Ben Rogers has been the top target, leading the Big Red in receptions (24) and touchdowns (3), not to mention 426 receiving yards — more than double that of any teammate. Marshall Deutz and Matt Sullivan have each snagged 17 throws, and Hagy has always been a good receiver out of the backfield; he has caught four passes in each of the three games he has played against the Big Green.
As a unit, the offense has gained nearly 350 yards per game and on four occasions has tallied at least 21 points. But the opposition is nearly 100 yards better as the Cornell defense has allowed close to 35 points every time out. Turnovers — or the lack of them — will be a large factor in determining whether or not the Big Red can stop the potent Dartmouth offense.
Those may be hard to come by, however, as the Green have thrown just one interception and Cornell has recorded just one interception, that by safety Rush Imhotep. The other safey, Nick Gesualdi, leads the team in tackles a year after being named the Ivy League Rookie of the year, the third Big Red player in the last five years to earn the honor. Up on the line, Seth Hope provides hope with his five tackles for a loss, a total matched by linebacker J.J. Fives.
On special teams, Chris Fraser is a huge help as he averages over 46 yards a punt, second in the league, but placekicking has been another story. The Big Red are just 2-for-8 on field goals with a long of 33 yards, and although kickoffs have provided some distance, the coverage team has allowed opponents to pick up almost 32 yards per return.
Cornell is led by The Roger J. Weiss ’61 Head Coach of Football David Archer, a 2005 graduate of the school. The former Big Red captain is the youngest Division I coach in the country (by three days) and has led the team to a 4-23 record in two-plus seasons. He has had 12 All-Ivy League selections, including the league’s Rookie of the Year in each of his first two campaigns, as well as a pair of All-Americans.
Diamond Anniversary for Fifth Down
Whenever a college football game is decided on the final play under controversial circumstances (ahem, Miami), the events in Hanover on Nov. 16, 1940 are always brought back to the collective consciousness. For it was on that day that Cornell scored the game-winning touchdown on the game’s final play, but only because it was allowed to run a play on fifth down due to an official’s error. After a review of the game film the following week, the Big Red offered to renounce the victory, and Dartmouth accepted the offer, reverting the score back to 3-0. It is the only instance of a collegiate contest being decided off the field of play after its completion.
Big Green on the Small Screen
With this NBC Sports Network broadcast, Dartmouth is appearing in a televised football game for the 86th time, sporting a 30-54-1 record entering this contest. Even with the agonizing 14-13 loss at Harvard last week, the cameras have been a bit more accommodating recently with the Big Green winning five of their last seven. Against Cornell on TV, Dartmouth is 7-2, its best mark against any Ivy team.
Eight Years Since Ranked Ivies Met
Dartmouth debuted in the STATS FCS Poll on Oct. 19 for the first time since the end of the 1996 season, and entered the Harvard game 22nd in both polls while Harvard was sitting in 15th in the STATS Poll and 16th in the coaches poll. The last time two ranked Ivy teams squared off on the gridiron was the Yale-Harvard showdown in 2007. The 11th-ranked Bulldogs, undefeated entering the game, were handed a 37-6 defeat at the Yale Bowl by the 25th-ranked Crimson.
The Agony of Defeat
Conjuring up images of the old ABC Wide World of Sports opening is appropriate for a game that is being hailed as an instant classic. Needing a victory at 15th-ranked Harvard to extend its winning streak to 10 games and take sole possession of the Ivy League lead in the standings, Dartmouth fell one point short in the final minute after leading for nearly the entire game. The Big Green’s seven-game road win streak also came to a halt, and they must now rely on another team to topple the Crimson in order to have a chance to earn a share of its first Ivy League crown in 19 years.
What’s the Point
The 14-13 loss to Harvard on Oct. 30 was the 37th time Dartmouth played in a game decided by exactly a single point, although the first one might seem strange at 1-0 over Amherst — back in 1881, touchdowns counted as a single point. Some interesting tidbits about one-point games:
- The last one-point game came 11 years prior to the day, a 13-12 loss to Harvard in 2004. Dartmouth failed on a two-point conversion with less than three minutes to play in an attempt to upset the Crimson, which went on to a perfect 7-0 league record while the Big Green went 1-6.
- Dartmouth is 20-17 in one-point games.
- The Big Green have had six games against Harvard decided by one point (going 2-4).
- Every Ivy team has played at least two one-point games versus Dartmouth, with Cornell the most often at seven (Big Green 4-3) and Princeton the least with two, both Big Green wins.
Dalyn Williams is working on rewriting the Dartmouth record book while etching his name in the Ivy annals as well:
- Williams’ 311 yards at 15th-ranked Harvard pushed him past former NFL QB Jay Fielder ’94 as Dartmouth’s all-time leading passer in all games (6,883 to 6,684) and in Ivy games alone (4,963 to 4,956).
- He also moved up to seventh on the Ivy League’s overall career passing yards list and sixth in the conference career passing yards.
- Williams became just the ninth Ivy QB to post seven or more 300-yard passing games as well.
- His 360 total yards against the Crimson made him the first Dartmouth QB and sixth Ivy Leaguer to top 5,000 yards in Ivy games alone (5,011).
- Williams did pass Fiedler in career total yards earlier this season and currently has 8,404, third most in Ivy League history.
- He 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.
- Another school record fell the following week with 435 passing yards against Yale, breaking the mark held by Fiedler.
- 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.
- In the Ivy League annals, he also ranks in the top 10 in career completions (558, 9th), career Ivy completions (393, 9th), career accuracy (62.7 percent, 6th), career passing efficiency (145.29, 3rd) and career touchdown passes (53, 8th).
- Became the first Dartmouth QB to top 300 passing yards (336 at Penn, 435 vs. Yale) in three straight weeks (had 313 against Sacred Heart).
- 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 after Penn and Yale, 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.
Goal Line Stand for the Ages
With Dartmouth holding a 13-0 lead early in the fourth quarter, Harvard managed to drive down to the one-yard line and had 1st-and-goal. Five times the Crimson snapped the ball in an attempt to push past the goal line (an offside call gave them an extra opportunity), and five times the Big Green defense was up to the task. Many people in attendance, including NBC Sports Network analyst Ross Tucker, called the stand the best they had ever seen.
McNamara Picks His Spots
For the second time in his career, senior linebacker Will McNamara recorded two interceptions in a game with his pair of picks against 15th-ranked Harvard. The first INT came at the Big Green five just before halftime ended to thwart a Crimson scoring opportunity, and the other came on Harvard’s first possession of the second half. He is the second Dartmouth defender with two interceptions in a game this year; David Caldwell turned the trick against Yale on Oct. 10.
Remember Them for Centuries
Both Ryan McManus and Victor Williams managed to collect more than 100 yards receiving in the loss at 15th-ranked Harvard on Oct. 30. McManus hauled in nine passes for a season-high 135 yards, his sixth career 100-yard game, while Williams snagged seven for 103, also his sixth. McManus’ first catch pushed him over 2,000 yards for his career, just the fifth Big Green player to reach the milestone. And Williams kept pace to set a single-season Dartmouth record for yardage as he needs to amass 319 yards in the final three games to do so.
6-0 Has Been a Harbinger
Dartmouth won its first six games of the season for the first time since the 1996 team began the season at 6-0 en route to a perfect 10-0 campaign. This is the seventh time the Big Green have won their first six games since the advent of Ivy League play in 1956. Good news for Dartmouth fans — the Green won at least a share of the title in each of the previous six instances — 1962, ’65, ’69, ’70, ’71 and ’96.
Speed Limit of 70
In Dartmouth’s last nine games, no one opposing player has managed to amass 70 rushing yards against the Big Green defense. Harvard’s Paul Stanton came closest with 67 on Oct. 30, and the last player to do so will line up today in Cornell’s backfield — Luke Hagy (110).
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 (1.3), sacks (1.0, also tied for sixth in the nation) and forced fumbles (0.4).
Dartmouth has enjoyed one of the best turnover margins in the country (+1.6, 3rd in FCS), and one big reason for that has been free safety David Caldwell. The senior is among the top 10 nationally in both interceptions per game and fumbles recovered, securing seven turnovers in all of the 19 the Big Green have gained control of this year.
FCS Defensive Awards Watch List
The College Football Performance Awards announced a total of 98 defensive players among those on its 2015 FCS Defensive Awards Watch List, and three Dartmouth defenders were among them: free safety David Caldwell, linebacker Will McNamara and linebacker Folarin Orimolade. The winners at each position will be announced on Jan. 3.
Mid-Season POY Watch List
The College Football Performance Awards unveiled its Mid-Season Watch List for its FCS National Performer for the Year, and quarterback Dalyn Williams was one of the 32 included, as he was on the preseason watch list. The senior is among the top 10 nationally in five offensive categories, including pass efficiency, total offense and completion percentage.