NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Dartmouth Big Green ended a decade of frustration at the Yale Bowl by defeating the host Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon, 34-14, thanks to 21 unanswered points in the second half. Sophomore quarterback Alex Park led the offense by throwing for 204 yards, while the running game added another 201 on the ground to help Dartmouth (3-1, 1-1 Ivy) win its first game in New Haven since 2001.
Yale (1-3, 0-2 Ivy) had beaten the Big Green in nine straight meetings, including the last five at the Yale Bowl by a combined score of 171-34. But Dartmouth scored on six of its eight possessions on the afternoon to end its drought against the Bulldogs.
Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens shuffled three quarterbacks in and out of the lineup, alternating between a traditional set with Park behind center and the Wildcat generally run by senior Greg Patton, seeing his first action of the year after suffering a torn Achilles last spring. Park completed 15-of-27 passes for his 204 yards, while Patton ran for 52 yards on seven carries. Junior Dominick Pierre led the Big Green rushing attack with 19 rushes for 91 yards and a touchdown, but left the game in the third quarter with an injury. Replacing him in the backfield was freshman Brian Grove, who added two more scores among his 10 carries and 38 yards.
Trailing by a point at the half, 14-13, Dartmouth kicked away to Yale, which picked up a trio of first downs to move inside the Big Green 25. But on a 4th-and-6 play, quarterback Eric Williams was corralled in the backfield by senior John Golio for a 15-yard sack, ending the Bulldog drive and giving Dartmouth excellent field position at its own 39.
Park picked up a first down on a pass to freshman Victor Williams, who stretched just far enough to get the 13 yards needed on third down. Pierre then rumbled 11 yards for another first down, but was forced from the game on the next play while protecting Park in the backfield. The Big Green quickly composed themselves as Park hooked up with sophomore Ryan McManus on a 33-yard completion to the Bulldog seven. Two plays later, senior tight end Justin Foley snared a six-yard strike and sophomore Riley Lyons added the point after for a 20-14 Dartmouth lead.
Yale responded by advancing into the red zone, but faced a 4th-and-3 at the 11. The Bulldogs had successfully pulled off a fake field goal in the first half, and reached into that bag of tricks once again. This time the Dartmouth defense was prepared, stuffing the holder to a one-yard gain.
Looking to extend their lead to two scores, the Big Green made it to the Yale 18 before attempting a 35-yard field goal. But Lyons kick veered to the right, leaving Dartmouth up by six points.
The Bulldogs managed just one first down before facing another 4th-and-3 at its own 38. Again Yale opted for a trick play as the upback in the punt formation threw to a receiver near the left sideline. The Dartmouth defense saw through the ploy as junior linebacker Michael Runger hit the receiver as the ball arrived to break up the pass. Eight plays later, Grove scored his first collegiate touchdown on a nine-yard run for a 27-14 lead with 6:15 to play.
Dartmouth stopped another Yale fourth-down attempt near midfield, then kept the ball on the ground with six runs, one of which was a 31-yard gain by Patton. Grove stretched the ball over the goal line on a one-yard dive to bring the scoring to a close.
After winning the coin toss before the game, Teevens elected to receive, bucking his usual trend of deferring until the second half. The strategy paid off as Dartmouth marched down to the Bulldog seven-yard line on 14 plays, taking up more than half of the first quarter. But the drive stalled there, and the Big Green settled for a Lyons 24-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Yale utilized a big play to set up a go-ahead score when Williams connected with Grant Wallace on a 51-yard bomb to the Big Green six. Three plays later, Michael Leunen hauled in a Williams three-yard throw in the back of the end zone, even with Dartmouth safety Garrett Waggoner draped all over him. Philippe Panico added the extra point to put the hosts on top, 7-3.
The ensuing kickoff bounced out of bounds, giving the Green the ball at their own 40. Pierre capped the 12-play drive by barrelling into the end zone from a yard out to reclaim the lead at 10-7.
Yale responded by running the ball almost exclusively. Fifteen of its first 16 plays were rushes, while the only pass fell incomplete. Twice the Bulldogs converted a fourth down, then faced a 4th-and-9 at the Dartmouth 18. While the field-goal unit took the field, it lined up spread all along the line. A quick snap to the holder, Derek Russell, led to a jump throw to Dylan Drake alone in the end zone as Yale retook the lead, 14-10.
Dartmouth pulled off its own field-goal fake just before the end of the half as senior Michael Reilly took the snap and ran for an apparent first down. But a holding call pushed the Big Green back, and they took the three points on a 36-yard field goal, closing within a point with eight seconds on the clock.
Nine Big Green players caught at least one pass in the game, led by McManus with five receptions for 76 yards. Junior Bronson Green led the Dartmouth defenders with nine tackles while Runger, the Ivy League’s leading tackler, added seven more stops.
Williams finished the day 17-of-24 throwing the ball for 181 yards and one touchdown, plus ran for 31 yards on 10 carries. Mordecai Cargill, starting in place of the Bulldogs’ leading rusher Tyler Varga who was unavailable, ran the ball 25 times for 96 yards. Yale finished the day with 337 yards of offense, compared to 405 for the Big Green.
Dartmouth returns to Hanover next Saturday to play its final non-conference game of the season against Sacred Heart (1-4) at 1:30 p.m. Yale will play its third of four consecutive home games when it hosts Lafayette at noon.