Location: Memorial Field, Hanover, N.H.
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1:30 p.m.
Series Record: Big Green lead, 55-30-4
Online Video: Big Green Insider — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst), produced by NSN
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM; Online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Celebrating the Seniors
With the final home game of the 2012 season comes the recognition of the members of the senior class who will be playing for the final time at Memorial Field. Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens would like nothing more than sending them off with a victory over the Brown Bears, which would also keep the Big Green’s hopes alive for earning a share of the Ivy League crown.
In order to earn that piece of the pie, Dartmouth will have to win its last two games, and the winner of this week’s Harvard-Penn game must lose its finale.
Dartmouth remains relevant in the conference standings thanks to a resounding 44-28 victory at Cornell last Saturday, the second-most points for the Big Green in the last 10 seasons. Turnovers on the first three Big Red possessions led to an early 21-0 lead, and Dartmouth controlled the contest with a stout running game that compiled 330 yards on the ground.
Making his first start behind center was freshman Dalyn Williams, due to an injury suffered by Alex Park against the Crimson on Oct. 27. Williams looked more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie as he completed 14-of-20 passes for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception or a sack, plus ran for 96 yards and another score on just eight carries. The Ivy League recognized him as the Rookie of the Week for his performance.
Although junior Dominick Pierre still wasn’t at full strength, he had enough in the tank to take a handoff 26 times for 154 yards and the first two touchdowns of the game. He ranks second in the Ivy league in rushing yards per game (95.6) and third in scoring (6.0 points per game).
Heading up the receiving corps are the talented duo of senior Michael Reilly (36 catches, 568 yards, 4 TDs) and sophomore Ryan McManus (34, 512, 2). But 13 different players have caught a pass this year and as many as nine in a single game, allowing the quarterbacks to spread the wealth. Reilly and McManus each caught four throws last week, while Reilly and senior tight end Justin Foley were on the receiving end of scoring strikes in the second quarter.
The defense may have allowed around 400 yards each of the last two weeks, but those totals came against the top two offenses in the league by far. Two weeks ago, Harvard managed 382 yards, about 25 percent less than its season average, while the 315 yards thrown by Cornell was 100 yards under its average. As a team, Dartmouth ranks among the top 25 nationally in fewest points and yards allowed.
Junior linebacker Michael Runger is generally in the middle of the action, leading the Ivy League with 78 tackles. Even having faced the top two passing offenses in the league the last two weeks, the Big Green still lead the loop in fewest passing yards allowed, ahead of Brown by nearly 20 yards per game. The Bears do lead the league with 12 interceptions, while Dartmouth ranks seventh with four. Three of those picks came just last week as senior safety Garrett Waggoner, sophomore strong safety Stephen Dazzo and senior linebacker Miles Gay each stepped in front of a heave.
Handling all of the kicking duties is sophomore Riley Lyons, who is tied with Pierre for the team scoring lead with 42 points. He has converted 6-of-10 field goals with a long of 44 yards, plus has hammered home every PAT save the last one at Cornell in the rain.
Brown is seeking to turn the tables on the Big Green, who played the spoiler role in a 21-16 victory over the Bears in Providence last year, ending their slim hopes of earning a share of the title.
Brown has had a bit of an up-and-down season, but last week was an up week for the Bears as they shut out Yale, 20-0, for their first shutout of the Bulldogs since 1949, before the formation of the Ivy League.
With the 44-28 victory at Cornell, Dartmouth extended its winning streak in road games to five, tied for the fifth longest among FCS schools. It is also the longest such streak of success for the Big Green since rattling off 14 straight from 1995-97.
Williams Shines in First Start
With sidelined with an injury at Cornell, freshman got the starting nod at quarterback and made the most of the opportunity. He completed 14-of-20 passes (12-of-13 through three quarters) for 160 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, plus ran for 96 yards and another score on eight carries. Not surprisingly, he was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his performance, giving Dartmouth seven weekly honorees this year, more than any league team. Williams became the first Big Green freshman to win a start at quarterback since Josh Cohen in 2005.
Return of the Run
One week after posting just 19 rushing yards against Harvard, the Big Green exploded for 330 yards on the ground in the 44-28 win at Cornell. Junior provided nearly half that total with 154 yards, the third 100-yard game of his career and second this season. It was just the third time in the past 20 years Dartmouth topped 300 yards running the ball, and all three have come against the Big Red (379 last year and 308 in 1995).
Turnovers to Touchdowns
Before playing at Cornell on Nov. 3, the Big Green had forced just six turnovers all season, and a mere two in the previous five contests. That changed against the Big Red as Dartmouth picked off three passes — one each by seniors and , plus another courtesy of sophomore — and recovered a fumble, then proceeded to convert each of those miscues into touchdowns. Cornell gave the ball away on each of its first three possessions, allowing the Green to storm to a 21-0 advantage en route to the 44-28 victory.
Patton Cuts Through Cornell
Senior Greg Patton parts through the Big Red defense like Moses parted the Red Sea, as he proved again with his lone run against Cornell this year that went for a 51-yard touchdown. For his career, Patton has run 42 times for 377 yards (9.0 avg.) and three touchdowns against the Big Red, including a then-school-record 243 yards as a freshman. Against everyone else, Patton has managed to gain 284 yards with two touchdowns on 86 rushes (3.3 avg.).
Second-Longest Running Series
Lafayette-Lehigh may get all the publicity for longest running series in the Football Championship Subdivision, having played at least once every year since 1897, but not many people realize that the Battle of the Bigs (Dartmouth Big Green vs. Cornell Big Red) is the second longest, with this the 94th consecutive year the two have met on the gridiron. And of the seven longest among FCS teams, Dartmouth is a part of four of them — versus Yale (87 consecutive years, 4th), Princeton (80, 6th) and Columbia (71, 7th).
Runger a Ringer
Linebacker is making his presence known on the field this year, leading the Ivy League with 9.8 tackles per game thus far. Last week against Cornell the junior brought down 10 Big Red ball carriers to lead the team for the sixth time in eight games. Against Holy Cross, Runger racked up a career-high 15 tackles, and he has five games in which he has reached double figures.
Defense Among Top 25 in Nation
Dartmouth continues to rank among the top defensive teams in the Ivy League and all of the FCS. In terms of yards allowed, the Big Green rank third in the conference and 24th nationally in yielding 323.0 per game, less than 10 behind league-leading Harvard. And while the 20.1 points Dartmouth allows on average ranks just fourth in the Ancient Eight, that figure puts it 22nd in the country.