Season Opener Kicks Off at Butler on Saturday
Location: Butler Bowl, Indianapolis, Ind.
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.
Series Record: Big Green lead, 1-0
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst)
Online Audio: DartmouthSports.com
Video: Butler Video (available free)
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Watch the Game Via Butler Video
Fans that aren't traveling to Indianapolis to watch the Big Green take on the Bulldogs can still watch all of the action, courtesy of Butler Video on ButlerSports.com. The game will be available for anyone to watch, free of charge.
Traveling West for the Season Opener
Dartmouth will be trying to repeat its recent success in season openers, albeit much further from home than the Big Green have played in decades (see sidebar at right). The Big Green have won their last three openers, including one on the road (43-20 at Bucknell in 2010) and last year’s 35-7 romp over these Butler Bulldogs in Hanover.
In each of the last two seasons, Dartmouth has finished among the top three in the Ivy League and is looking to challenge for its 18th conference crown. No team in the Ancient Eight has won more league titles than the Big Green.
The road was kind to Dartmouth last year as the Green posted a perfect 5-0 mark away from Memorial Field. The current six-game road winning streak is the second longest in the FCS as well as the longest for the program since a 14-game stretch spanning the 1995-97 seasons.
Dartmouth is coming off a 6-4 campaign in 2012 in which four players earned first-team All-Ivy honors, while quarterback Dalyn Williams was selected as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, the first Big Green player to garner the honor in 10 years. But Williams will be sharing signal-calling duties with junior Alex Park, who completed 62.6 percent of his passes while amassing over 1,300 yards through the air last year. Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens is calling both QBs starters and labeling them as 1 and 1a.
Much of the offense is back from last year’s squad with senior tri-captain Dominick Pierre the featured back after gaining 830 yards at an average of five yards per carry and scoring nine touchdowns despite being limited a bit by injuries. Teevens also has capable runners in sophomores Brian Grove and Kyle Bramble should Pierre need a breather.
Williams and Park will have a number of choices when it comes to throwing the ball with junior Ryan McManus (42 catches for 664 yards in 2012), senior Robbie Anthony (14 for 144) and sophomore Victor Williams (14 for 113) returning to the wide receiver mix. And a healthy Bo Patterson — who led the team in receiving yards as a freshman two years ago — adds to the depth.
The other two captains — senior linebacker Bronson Green and senior free safety Garrett Waggoner — line up on the opposite side of the ball. Green is a two-time All-Ivy honoree, taking home second-team honors last season, while Waggoner was a first-teamer with 56 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
The Ivy League’s leading tackler is also returning for the Big Green in senior linebacker Michael Runger, who made 98 stops a year ago. In all, Dartmouth has its top six tacklers back on the field in 2013, including junior strong safety Stephen Dazzo who was second on the squad with 59 tackles and tied with Waggoner for team-high honors with two picks.
Special teams will feature a mix of veterans and rookies. Junior Riley Lyons will be the placekicker after booting seven field goals and 32-of-33 PATs, plus providing the best distance consistently on kickoffs in the league. Taking over the punting duties will be freshman Ben Kepley, an all-state punter in North Carolina. McManus will continue to handle punt returning duties while Victor Williams will be the primary return man on kickoffs with junior Kirby Schoenthaler unavailable for the beginning of the season.
Last But Hardly Least
The Ivy League football schedule always starts a couple of weeks after the rest of Division I. But with the season opener kicking off at 6 p.m. at the Butler Bowl, Dartmouth will be one of the final three teams to begin play as both Penn and Princeton have games that begin at the same time.
Historically, the Big Green have been quite successful in the first action of the year. Overall they have an 86-42-3 record which includes a 49-game winning streak from 1895 to 1943. During the streak, Dartmouth outscored its opposition by a total of 1,562-52 with 39 shutouts. The Green also won 13 straight from 1960-72. Over the last 28 seasons, however, Dartmouth is just 7-21 on opening day.
Although Dartmouth is 5-8 in the first game of the season under Coach Teevens, it has won three straight versus Bucknell, Colgate and Butler.
Last year, the Big Green claimed a total of nine players who earned All-Ivy honors, four of which made the first team, plus the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in quarterback . Of those nine selections, five return to the field for Dartmouth this fall.
Last Year Against the Bulldogs
It didn’t take long for the Big Green to put their first points on the board of the 2012 season as Miles Gay returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for a 35-7 Dartmouth victory in Hanover. The Green scored another touchdown in the opening quarter before settling for a 21-7 lead at the break thanks to a 24-yard touchdown throw by with just 19 ticks left in the half. Park and , who ran for a career-high 170 yards, both added a one-yard burst into the end zone in the second half to secure the outcome.
Park was solid if not spectacular in his collegiate starting debut, connecting on 15-of-20 passes for 184 yards and the one score with nary a pick.led the receiving corps with five catches while led the defense with seven tackles and a fumble recovery.
Despite the final score, Butler finished the night with more offensive yards (416-358), most of which came through the air. Bulldog tailback Trae Heeter was contained to just 61 rushing yards, a total that turned out to be his second lowest of the year. Matt Lancaster was solid behind center, throwing for 267 yards without an interception, but he was bottled up and scrambled for just 11 yards on the ground.
Slotted for Fourth
In each of the last two seasons, the Big Green have outperformed their expected finish before the season began by three places. Back in 2011, Dartmouth was picked by the media to finish fifth, yet ended the year in a tie for second. Last year the Big Green were picked to place sixth in the final league standings, yet when the final bell sounded, there they were in a tie for third. The Dartmouth coaches would be thrilled to have that pattern hold up after being slotted for fourth in 2013. The defending champion, Penn, received 11 of the 17 first-place votes to be the favorite. Harvard claimed second with five first-place votes, while Brown received the final nod for the top spot to sit in third. The complete poll can be found on page seven of these notes.
The Experience Factor
Although Dartmouth graduated some key players from last year’s 6-4 squad, the Big Green have experience littered throughout the roster, particularly at the skill positions. Dartmouth returns 86 percent of its rushing yards with the return of senior , 60 percent of its receiving yards and 100 percent of its passing yards with quarterbacks and competing for time behind center. On defense, the top six tacklers are back on the gridiron, including the Ivy’s leading stopper in 2012, linebacker . And 80 percent of all tackles from a year ago are back on the roster this season.
Oui, Oui, Pierre
Senior running back enters his final season at Dartmouth 12th on the all-time rushing list with 1,574 rushing yards. It will take less than 100 yards to boost him into the top 10, and a mere 426 will make him just the third Big Green player to rush for 2,000 yards in a career.
CFPA Watch Lists
The College Football Performance Awards unveiled its watch lists for various positions, and two Big Green players were selected. was named to the Running Back Award Watch List, while got the nod for the Kickoff Returner Award Watch List.
Still All-Time Ivy Champs
Dartmouth has won at least a share of the Ivy League crown 17 times since the league played its first season in 1956, more than any other school. The lead is shrinking, however, as the Big Green are currently in their longest title drought, having last finished atop the standings in 1996. Penn is threatening to equal Dartmouth, having won its 16th championship last year and earning the top spot this year in the preseason media poll. Both Harvard and Yale aren’t much further behind with 14 each.
Lyons Share of the Kicking
Last year, the only Dartmouth player to kick a ball all season was , who handled all kickoff, field goal, PAT and punting duties. That was a total of 142 kicks for the rising junior. It looks like Lyons will focus his energy into placekicking this year as freshman Ben Kepley is ready to take over as the Big Green punter.