Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008

Boxscore

HANOVER, N.H. -- Dartmouth turned the ball over four times on Saturday afternoon, and Yale turned each of those miscues into touchdowns en route to a 34-7 Ivy League victory at Memorial Stadium. The visiting Bulldogs improved to 3-1 on the season and 1-1 in the league, while the Big Green was left winless at 0-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play.Yale recovered one fumble and intercepted three passes, the last of which was returned 24 yards by cornerback Paul Rice with 3:39 to play — just 33 seconds after the Bulldogs had scored their previous touchdown — for the last score of the day.

“We challenged hard and competed for 60 minutes, but I think we’re just not playing smart in critical situations,” Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens stated after the game. “We need to make better decisions; we’re playing competitively but we need to be smarter. I thought we answered last year’s result (a 50-10 loss at Yale) in terms of matching up. Unfortunately we had a couple of inopportune plays at key times.”

The game started well for Dartmouth as it marched right down the field to the Yale six after the opening kickoff, only to have Yale linebacker Bobby Abare force the first turnover with an interception in the end zone for a touchback.

The Bulldogs marched back the other way, finishing off a 10-play, 80-yard drive after the pick with a 12-yard toss from back-up quarterback Brook Hart to John Sheffield. The extra-point attempt, however, was blocked by sophomore Charles Bay (Marietta, Ga.), who burst through the line to knock down the ball.

Big Green free safety Peter Pidermann (Hialeah, Fla.) forced the only Yale turnover on the Bulldogs’ next possession, with freshman cornerback Shawn Abuhoff (Hialeah, Fla.) falling on the ball at the Yale 49. But the Bulldogs got another interception at their own 39 to quickly turn the tide once again. Two plays later, quarterback Ryan Fodor threw a deep ball to Patrick Sedden, which was batted away by the Dartmouth defense. But a streaking Reid Lathan caught the tipped pass and went for a 60-yard touchdown reception. Tom Mante’s point after split the uprights this time for a 13-0 Yale lead early in the second quarter.

“I felt we were pressing a little,” said quarterback Alex Jenny (Wayland, Mass.). “I was trying to make the plays but I tried too hard when I threw that second interception. I felt this was the most emotional I’d played all year. I deserved to be taken out of the game when I was but when I had the chance to come back. I had to forget what had happened and just go.”

Dartmouth came out strong in the second half, holding Yale to a three-and-out, then quickly getting 18 yards on a pair of rushes. But the Bulldogs forced a fumble on the third carry and pounced on the ball at the Big Green 31. Yale could not gain an inch on its first three plays, then converted a 4th-and-10 into a 31-yard touchdown pass from Fodor to Sedden. The extra point gave the Bulldogs a 20-0 advantage.

Senior punter Brian Scullin (Alexandria, Va.), who helped the Big Green net more than 42 yards per punt, was instrumental in getting Dartmouth its best field position of the day, dropping a booming 55-yard punt on the Yale one — his second 55-yarder of the game. After the defense held again and the Bulldogs punted, Dartmouth found itself in enemy territory at the 44. A pair of completions to tight end John Gallagher (Salem, Ore.) got the Big Green into the red zone for just the second time. Another completion to the five-yard line was called back due to an offensive interference penalty against sophomore wide receiver Tim McManus (St. Paul, Minn.). He made up for it two plays later, however, hauling in a 21-yard pass in the end zone to put Dartmouth on the board. Freshman Foley Schmidt (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) added the extra point to make the score 20-7.

The Dartmouth defense held two more times, and the offense threatened again, moving into Yale territory with the game clock showing less than seven minutes to play. But a pair of uncontested sacks brought their comeback attempt to a grinding halt. The Bulldogs sealed the victory on a two-yard touchdown plunge by Mike McLeod with 4:12 to play, then topped that with a Rice’s 24-yard interception return for the final score.

“Defensively we had a lot of shirts around the ball but playing aggressive football hurt us a little,” Teevens noted. “We have to learn to minimize those things. We’re so close and we just have to keep plugging away.”

The All-American McLeod had 135 of Yale’s 138 yards on the ground, carrying the ball 27 times for a 5.0 average with a touchdown. Lathan led the receiving corps with 113 yards on five catches, including the 60-yard tip. Fodor ended the day with 14 completions in 26 attempts for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Big Green struggled to gain yardage on the ground with just 38 total yards on 29 carries. Jenny was 17-of-30 passing for 172 yards and the lone Dartmouth touchdown, but had three interceptions as well. McManus completed 5-of-7 passes for 20 yards during his time behind center.

As a team, Yale outgained the Big Green, 358 yards to 230. Not only did the turnovers hurt Dartmouth, but penalties as well as it had eight flags for 94 yards, plus several others that were declined, while the Bulldogs had only five penalties for 35 yards.

Dartmouth continues its brief two-game homestand next Saturday as it welcomes Holy Cross to Memorial Field for the homecoming game at 12:30 p.m. Yale travels to Fordham next week for its final non-conference game of the season at 1 p.m.