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Williams' Big Day Leads Big Green to 30-23 Victory at Butler

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By Steve Mitchell

HANOVER, N.H. — In its season opener, the Dartmouth Big Green football team scored touchdowns on each of its first three possessions and then held off host Butler by a final of 30-23. Sophomore quarterback Dalyn Williams threw for 228 yards and ran for another 119 to lead Dartmouth (1-0) to its fourth consecutive opening-day victory.

Williams enjoyed his third straight 200-yard passing game dating back to last year and first career 100-yard rushing game, averaging 6.6 yards on his 18 carries. He also ran for a touchdown while senior Dominick Pierre rumbled for three more, picking up 93 yards on 23 carries. Pierre is the first Big Green player in two years to run for three touchdowns in a game.

Butler (2-2) rallied from a 30-10 deficit in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns and had the ball at its own six with just over a minute to play but no timeouts remaining. Bulldog quarterback Matt Lancaster, who completed a school-record 42 passes on 68 attempts, was able to guide his team to the Big Green 34 before the last pass fell to the turf near the end zone as time expired. Lancaster finished the game with 395 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The two teams combined for 190 plays and nearly 1,000 yards with Dartmouth collecting 497 and Butler 480. The Big Green attack was a bit more balanced, however, with 259 yards coming through the air and 238 on the ground. No less than nine Dartmouth receivers caught at least one pass, led by sophomore Victor Williams and junior Ryan McManus with six apiece. Two Bulldogs amassed at least 100 yards receiving with J.T. Mesch hauling in 13 passes for 112 yards and Bret Shannon eight more for an even 100 and a touchdown.

Dartmouth stymied the Bulldogs on the game’s opening drive, then marched 64 yards on its first possession of the year for a quick 7-0 lead, twice converting 4th-and-1 runs by Pierre. Dalyn Williams had the honor of scoring the first points of the season with his one-yard dive, which he set up by connecting on a 23-yard pass to sophomore tight end Sam Laptad — his first career catch — on the previous play.

Butler responded with a 34-yard field goal by Jon Treloar after driving 58 yards, but the Big Green offense came right back. Pierre capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive by finding a gap around the left side of the line and sprinting 19 yards for the touchdown. With the PAT provided by junior Riley Lyons, Dartmouth enjoyed a 14-3 lead with 1:31 remaining in the first quarter.

The Big Green defense regrouped on the next drive, forcing a quick three-and-out for Butler, and the 33-yard punt with no return gave Dartmouth excellent field position at its own 43. Two passes to Victor Williams for a total of 21 yards pushed the Green to the Bulldog 32 to end the quarter, and four plays later, Pierre had his second score of the day, barreling in from a yard out.

Later in the second quarter, Butler zipped down the field as Lancaster completed passes on all seven plays, the last a nine-yarder to Shannon for the touchdown, cutting the Bulldog deficit to 11 at 21-10. Twice before the intermission Dartmouth had scoring opportunities, but one drive stalled at the Butler eight, while the other ended in a 38-yard field goal attempt that went wide left on the final play of the half.

Dartmouth caught a break in the third quarter when a punt bounded off a Butler blocker’s back and into the arms of sophomore Will McNamara at the Bulldog 26. Twice the Big Green converted on third down, the second a four-yard Pierre run into the end zone. But the snap on the PAT was fumbled, leaving the score at 27-10 with 5:51 left in the quarter.

Butler got its offense going at that point, but could not capitalize after advancing to the Dartmouth six as junior Stephen Dazzo picked off a Lancaster pass in the end zone for a touchback. Dalyn Williams immediately led the team into Bulldog territory where Lyons booted a 42-yard field goal for a 20-point lead.

The Butler rally began in earnest with a 13-play, 81-yard drive that Lancaster capped with a 15-yard scoring strike to Brandon Collins. The point after was off the mark, however, leaving the score at 30-16.

A Big Green fumble on the following drive with 4:09 to play opened the door for the Bulldogs, and they took advantage by gobbling up the 67 yards in just two minutes. Lancaster burrowed his way into the end zone from a yard out with a second effort, and suddenly the score was 30-23.

Dartmouth managed to cover up the onside kick, but failed to get a first down as Butler spent its final timeouts. Freshman Ben Kepley perfectly placed his punt, dropping it by the sideline at the Bulldog six with 1:03 left, but Lancaster would not give up. Five completions sent Butler to the Big Green 34, but after spiking the ball to stop the clock, his next three passes were all incomplete as junior Troy Donahue broke up one of the tosses and sophomore Vernon Harris batted down the last one as the clock expired.

Dartmouth, which has won seven straight on the road but lost its last four at home, returns to Hanover next Saturday for its home opener against Holy Cross at 7 p.m. Butler begins its conference slate in the Pioneer Football League on the road when it travels to Jacksonville for a game at noon next weekend.

Notes: The 42 completions and 70 pass attempts are the most ever for a Dartmouth opponent … defending FCS champion North Dakota State is the only team with a longer current road winning streak at 11.