Looking to Keep Title Hopes Alive, Football Heads to Brown
Location: Brown Stadium, Providence, R.I.
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 16 at 12:30 p.m.
Series Record: Big Green lead 55-31-4
Video: Big Green Insider
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst)
Online Audio: DartmouthSports.com
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Clinging to Hope
By defeating Cornell last week, 34-6, Dartmouth kept its hopes alive for a share of the Ivy League crown. In order to stay in the hunt, the Big Green will need to take care of business at Brown on Saturday.
But even a victory won’t guarantee that Dartmouth remains relevant in the title conversation. The Green need to get some help from Yale this week as the Bulldogs play at the current leader atop the standings, Princeton. The Tigers are two games ahead of Dartmouth with two to play, so there is no margin for error here.
Everything was clicking against the Big Red last Saturday as the offense piled up 510 yards while the defense held Cornell to just 216 yards, more than half came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. Big Red QB Jeff Mathews was particularly flummoxed, throwing just 170 yards, by far his lowest total of the season.
Four different defenders sacked Mathews during the contests, and junior safety Stephen Dazzo collected his second interception of the year, returning it 31 yards to set up one of two Dartmouth field goals on the day. No one put up gaudy numbers, primarily because Cornell ran just 53 plays (compared to 88 for the Big Green).
On the other side of the ball, sophomore Dalyn Williams did a fine job behind center, throwing for 156 yards and a touchdown while completing 16-of-24 passes, and running for 96 more yards. He now has exactly 500 rushing yards to go along with more than 1,500 through the air this year. Another 203 total yards will give him the fourth-most yards in a season in Dartmouth history.
The running game was hitting on all cylinders despite senior Dominick Pierre taking the ball just seven times in order to rest a nagging injury. Two of those carries, however, ended in the end zone, giving him at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season.
In Pierre’s place, sophomore Kyle Bramble came through with the first 100-yard game of his career, going for 110 on 24 carries. The Indiana native also led the team with six receptions for 52 yards.
The receiving corps has been decimated by injuries throughout the season, but the one constant has been junior Bo Patterson. One of his two catches against Cornell came on the final play of the first half for a 25-yard touchdown. He leads the Big Green with 23 receptions, 332 yards and five TD receptions.
While freshman punter Ben Kepley continued to make it difficult to return a punt (opponents have just 13 punt return yards all season), Dartmouth turned to another rookie in Alex Gakenheimer to kick field goals and PATs. All Gakenheimer did was convert both field goals (26 and 21 yards) and all four PATs.
Dartmouth would like nothing more than avenge last year’s loss to the Bears. Trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, Brown managed to score two touchdowns in the final seven minutes to steal a 28-24 win in Hanover. Pierre amassed 136 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns, while Williams threw for 240 yards and a score in just his second career start. Bear QB Patrick Donnelly countered 233 yards on 20-of-32 passes and threw two scoring strikes, the second with just 1:14 left to play to secure the Brown win.
Scouting the Bears
Brown will be recognizing its 26 seniors before the game, honoring a group that has gone 25-13 overall and 15-11 in the Ivy League. This year, the Bears were perfect in three non-conference games, but have faltered a bit within the league at 2-3, losing in the final minute at Yale last weekend, 24-17.
The Brown stats for the season are remarkably similar to Dartmouth’s, leading one to believe this will be a close ball game once again this year — each of the last four meetings have been decided by seven points or less.
Guiding an offense that has averaged 432 yards and 30 points a game is senior Patrick Donnelly. The fifth-year quarterback is second in the league in passing yards and has thrown 13 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions.
He has a few targets from which to choose with Tellef Lundevall — 10th all-time in the Ivy League with 202 catches — Jordan Evans and Brian Strachan. Lundevall, not surprisingly, leads Brown with 47 receptions for 567 yards and three touchdowns. Evans isn’t far behind with 42 catches for 501 yards, and Strachan, with 30 passes caught for 299 yards, give the Bears one of the best group of receivers in the league.
The running game is headed up by speedster John Spooney. The five-time Ivy League sprint champion leads the Ancient Eight in rushing yards per carry (a whopping 8.5) and per game (116.9, less than eight yards ahead of Pierre), and has galloped for nine touchdowns, five of which have gone for at least 70 yards. Both Andrew Coke (4.1 avg.) and Jordan Reisner (5.3 avg.) are capable backs as well.
The only team in the Ivy League that has allowed fewer points per game than Brown is Dartmouth. The Bears have surrendered points per game, which ranks among the top 20 nationally.
Pressure can come from anywhere as Brown has 60 tackles for a loss thus far with 10 defenders having at least three. The Big Green will need to slow down the pass rush of Michael Yules and John Bumpus in particular as the duo has combined for 10.5 sacks.
Linebacker Dan Giovacchini (no known relation to former Big Green basketball player Michael Giovacchini) leads the Bears with 54 tackles, and cornerback Emory Polley is one of the top cover men in the league with an Ivy-leading five interceptions.
The place kicking game is in fine order with Alexander Norocea having missed just one kick all year (9-10 FG, 30-30 PAT). Punter Grant Senne has been similar to Kepley for Dartmouth in helping their respective teams to be in the middle of the pack for net punting.
Brown head coach Phil Estes is in his 16th season at Brown while going 97-60 overall and 66-44 in league play, the most by a Brown coach. He has three Ivy League titles to his credit (1999, 2005, 2008). The 2005 New England Coach of the Year and a three-time finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award is a New Hampshire native having grown up in Laconia and graduated from UNH in 1980.
To commemorate Veterans Day this year, Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens made senior running back Kevin Price an honorary captain for the game against Cornell on Nov. 9. Why Price? Well, he is a 31-year-old Army Ranger who served six tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. The husband and father of two got an opportunity to play late in the game, and ran the ball twice for a total of one yard. After the game, his teammates presented him with the game ball for his commitment to the team and his country.
Three Dartmouth seniors were named to the Capital One Academic All-District I Football Team this fall: nickelback Mike Banaciski, tight end Cole Marcoux and linebacker Michael Runger. For Marcoux (3.89 GPA, sociology major), this is his first such honor, while both Banaciski (3.57 GPA, engineering) and Runger (3.77 GPA, economics) were selected for a second straight year.
Bramble Breaks Loose
Sophomore became the third Big Green back to run for 100 yards in a game when he took the handoff 24 times to pile up 110 yards in the 34-6 victory over Cornell. The last time Dartmouth had three different players post 100 rushing yards in a game during one season came in 2007. Two of the three players accomplished the feat in the same game, something that hasn’t been done since, although made it close by running for 96 against the Big Red to complement Bramble.
Pierre Closing in on 1,000 Yards
The reason Bramble had the opportunity to run for 100 yards against Cornell was because senior went to the bench in the second quarter after scoring his second touchdown of the game with a nagging injury. Pierre hopes his health holds on as needs just 142 yards to become the fifth Big Green back to accumulate 1,000 in a season. He also has an eight-game touchdown streak going with at least one in every game in 2013.
Getting Out of the Gate
Only once in the eight games this season has Dartmouth failed to score first. The only team to get the upper hand on the Big Green out of the gate was Harvard, although Dartmouth did briefly take the lead in the third quarter, 14-13.
Defense Putting on the Clamps
Through three games this year, the Dartmouth defense surrendered an average of 485 yards a game. But only once in the last five contests has an opponent managed to gather more than 300 yards. On Nov. 9, Cornell struggled to collect even 200, sitting on 83 after three quarters before gaining meaningless yards to boost its total to 216. The average total yardage for the opposition over those five games is 256.6, a figure that would rank fourth nationally.
Barbaro on the Board
Facing a 4th-and-6 at the Cornell 30 in the fourth quarter on Nov. 9, Dartmouth decided to go for it and was rewarded handsomely when junior Alex Park went for all of the marbles with a throw into the end zone. Making the diving catch just inside the boundary with his back to the line of scrimmage was senior Dana Barbaro for his first career touchdown on just his fourth career reception.
Back Through the Uprights
With junior placekicker Riley Lyons struggling on his field goal attempts, the Big Green gave freshman an opportunity to show what he could do against Cornell on Nov. 9. The rookie did not disappoint, providing a pair of short field goals (26 and 21 yards) and converting all four PATs. The field goals were the first for Dartmouth since Lyons drilled a 40-yarder in the third overtime at Penn on Oct. 5.
With five of the seven Ivy League games in the books, now is a good opportunity to see how the Big Green stack up against the rest of the league statistically:
- As a team Dartmouth ranks first in scoring defense (16.0 ppg), total defense (287.4 ypg), pass defense (156.4 ypg, nearly 50 yards better than second-place Princeton) and rushing offense (247.8 ypg).
- is second in rushing to Brown’s Spooney, but nearly 30 yards behind, but has just four fewer rushing yards while carrying the ball a league-high 108 times.
- Junior Bo Patterson has the best punt return average (6.7) while returning more punts than anyone else in the Ancient Eight.