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Courtesy: Tom McNeill (www.tommcneillphotography.com)

Football Looking to Spoil Homecoming at Columbia

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 10/17/2012
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The Game: Dartmouth (3-2, 1-1) at Columbia (1-4, 0-2)
Location: Wien Stadium, New York, N.Y.
Kickoff:
Saturday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m.
Series Record: Big Green lead, 63-17-1
Online Video: Big Green Insider, provided by SideLion Pass
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst)
Online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live StatsComplete Game Notes

Roaring Back Against the Lions
After being a heavy favorite at home against a team with just one win and coming up empty, Dartmouth must quickly regroup against another team with only one victory in Columbia. But like last week, one must remember that records can be deceiving.

Sure, the Big Green have dominated the series with its foe from New York, posting a winning percentage of .784 (63-17-1), including victories in eight of the last 10 meetings. But these Lions are coming off a 24-20 loss, on the road, to a Penn team that has already beaten Dartmouth in Hanover this year. And Columbia was just two yards shy of the end zone — and victory — when time expired.

As for the Green, they will have to put the memory of its 27-10 loss to Sacred Heart far from their minds. Turnovers and costly penalties sabotaged any possibility of Dartmouth finishing the first half of 2012 with a 4-1 record for the first time under Robert L. Blackman Head Coach Buddy Teevens.

Hopefully, Coach Teevens will have the services of his top two offensive threats, senior Michael Reilly and junior Dominick Pierre. Reilly, Dartmouth’s leading receiver, was only available to perform his holding duties on kicks due to a leg contusion last week, while Pierre, the Ivy League’s second-leading rusher, sat out with an ankle injury he suffered the week before at Yale.

Without that dynamic duo, the Big Green offense was inconsistent against the Pioneers and failed to record even one touchdown. The lone player to reach the end zone was sophomore Kirby Schoenthaler, who returned a first-quarter kickoff 79 yards for six points. It is the second kickoff to be taken to the house this year, with senior Miles Gay providing the other on the first play of the season.

As a unit, the offense compiled just 245 yards. Sophomore Alex Park, who had thrown for over 200 yards in each of the previous two contests, managed just 75 while completing 7-of-18 passes with a pair of picks. Yet he is still third in the Ivy League in efficiency. In the second half, he was mostly replaced by freshman Dalyn Williams, who connected on 5-of-6 throws for 85 yards.

Although Pierre’s replacement, freshman Brian Grove, had difficulty running the ball against Sacred Heart, he did lead the squad with four receptions out of the backfield for 62 yards. And tight ends Justin Foley and Mitch Aprahamian were utilized more often with Reilly out, combining for five catches and 73 yards.

The Dartmouth defense has been close to stellar all year, ranking among the top 20 FCS schools in both total defense and scoring defense. But when the opposing team starts six separate drives beyond the 50-yard line, even a defense that yields just 231 yards of offense can still surrender 27 points.

Junior linebacker Michael Runger far and away has the most tackles for the Big Green with 45, tied for fifth in the conference. But he and the rest of the squad are still searching for their first interception of the season, making Dartmouth one of just two teams (Towson) without a pick this year.

One encouraging sign that could help lead to interceptions in the near future was the pressure the Big Green applied on the Sacred Heart quarterback. Dartmouth harassed the QB into just 9-of-21 for 71 yards, plus recorded a season-high eight tackles for a loss, two of which were sacks.

Quick Hits from Sacred Heart
• The Big Green got its second kickoff return for a touchdown this year when sophomore Kirby Schoenthaler brought one back 79 yards untouched. Senior Miles Gay owns the other one, an 85-yard return on the season’s opening play.
• Sophomore Riley Lyons booted a 44-yard field goal against the Pioneers, the longest for Dartmouth since Foley Schmidt ’12 drilled a 46-yarder against Penn last year.
• Dartmouth’s leading rusher was senior Greg Patton with just 35 yards. The last time the top runner for the Big Green had that few yards was against Brown in 2009 … when Patton had 35 yards.
• The Pioneers’ Keshaudas Spence became the first opponent to run for at least 100 yards (138) since Harvard had three players do it last year.
• Dartmouth had scored 13 times out of 15 red zone opportunities this year before going 0-for-3 against Sacred Heart.
• The defense allowed its second-fewest yards all season (231) and posted a season-high eight tackles for a loss.

Pierre, Reilly Expected Back
Dartmouth’s leading rusher (junior Dominick Pierre) and receiver (senior Michael Reilly) both missed the Sacred Heart game with injuries, although Reilly was able to perform his holding duties on field goals and extra points. The dynamic duo is expected to return to the field against the Lions, though the true determination will not come until the day of the game.

Tale of the Turnovers
One reason Dartmouth was able to get off to a 3-1 start in 2012 was due to turning the ball over just twice in the four contests. That trend did not continue against Sacred Heart, unfortunately, as the Big Green coughed the ball up four times in the game. The last time Dartmouth had that many turnovers was against Holy Cross in 2010. Oddly enough, the Green won that game, 27-19, thanks to forcing six Crusader turnovers!

Stout Second-Half Defense
Dartmouth has one of the stingiest defenses when it comes to scoring. While just third in the Ivy League in scoring defense, the 17.2 points the Big Green allow rank 15th nationally in the FCS. But their best work comes after halftime as the opposition has scored 22 points thus far in the five games in the second half. In the three Dartmouth victories, the other side has failed to score altogether after the intermission.

Harvard Game To Be Televised
Before playing at Yale, Dartmouth announced that its homecoming game against Harvard on Oct. 27 will be televised by Comcast SportsNet New England (CSNNE). If the Big Green are to challenge for an Ivy League record 18th title, they will need to find a way to beat the defending champion, who have won an FCS best 14 straight games overall and own an eight-game winning streak in the series.

The 70 Percenters
Sophomore quarterback Alex Park completed at least 70 percent of his passes in two of the first three games, hitting 15-of-20 receivers (75.0) in the season opener against Butler and 21-of-29 (72.4) in the loss to Penn. The last time Dartmouth QBs attained that mark twice in one season? Try 1983. For the season, Park has completed 60.4 percent of his throws, which would rank among the Big Green’s top 10 for a single season. The highest percentage is 64.1, set by Jay Fiedler in 1992.

Runger a Ringer
Junior linebacker Michael Runger is making his presence known on the field this year, ranking fifth in the Ivy League with nine tackles per game thus far. He led the team in stops in each of the first three contests, including a career-high 15 in the win at Holy Cross, before being surpassed by fellow linebacker Bronson Green at Yale, 9-7.

Game Available on Big Green Insider
Thanks to SideLion Pass for sharing its video stream, which will allow the subscribers to Big Green Insider to watch the game on Saturday without being in Wien Stadium. For subscription information, see the Big Green Insider landing page.

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