ITHACA, N.Y. — Freshman quarterback Dalyn Williams, making his first career start in place of an injured Alex Park, threw for 160 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 96 more with another score to lead the Big Green to a 44-28 triumph over Cornell at Schoellkopf Field on Saturday. Dartmouth (5-3, 3-2 Ivy) took advantage of four Big Red turnovers, scoring after each one, to improve to 4-0 on the road this season and send Cornell (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) to its first home loss of the year.
Williams completed 14-of-20 passes on the day to account for his 160 yards through the air. But it was the running game that allowed Dartmouth to take control of the contest, amassing 330 yards on the ground. Junior Dominick Pierre rumbled for 154 yards with two touchdowns on 26 carries, while Williams averaged 12 yards on his eight runs as Dartmouth had a season-high 490 yards of offense.
The Big Green defense, meanwhile, proved to be problematic for Cornell star quarterback Jeff Mathews. Despite completing 27-of-41 passes for 315 yards, Mathews was picked off three times, half of his season total entering the game. Kurt Ondash hauled in nine of those throws for 136 yards to lead all receivers.
Of the four Big Red turnovers, three came in the first quarter as Dartmouth built a 21-0 lead. The first miscue came on the third play of the game when Silas Nacita fumbled the ball away with sophomore cornerback Chai Reece scooping it up at the Cornell 44. Dartmouth immediately established its running game with Pierre running on five of the seven plays, including the one-yard touchdown after bouncing off a pile twice.
It took just three more Cornell plays for the Big Green to get the ball back. Mathews tried to connect with Luke Tasker down the left sideline, but senior safety Garrett Waggoner was blanketing him and picked off the pass at the Dartmouth 36. Even though the Green were whistled for three procedure penalties during the drive — including two consecutively — a 21-yard run by Williams helped compensate for the mistakes. Pierre followed with a nine-yard jaunt into the end zone.
Cornell finally advanced into Dartmouth territory, only to have sophomore safety Stephen Dazzo dive in front of a third-down pass for his second pick of the season. Again Pierre took the ball early and often, gobbling up 36 yards on three straight carries. Rookie Brian Grove then came on to give him a breather and broke off a 30-yard jaunt down to the two. Two plays later, Williams found senior tight end Justin Foley in the back of the end zone for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Mathews started to find his rhythm on the next drive, guiding the Big Red to a 1st-and-goal at the two. The Dartmouth defense stopped bending at that point, dropping the first two plays for a loss before forcing a pair of incompletions to get the ball back on downs.
Stuck deep in their own territory, the Big Green could not get a first down, however, and managed just a 25-yard punt into the wind. Three plays later, Mathews got Cornell on the board with a 16-yard toss to Grant Gellatly and just 1:14 left in the half.
As it turned out, Dartmouth was not ready to go into the locker room content with a 14-point lead, while the Big Red hoped to get the ball back for one last shot before intermission. Cornell burned two timeouts as the Big Green faced 3rd-and-11, but Williams scrambled for a 14-yard gain to keep the drive alive. The Green got into position for a possible 39-yard field goal into a stiff wind thanks to a 27-yard pass to sophomore Ryan McManus with seven seconds on the clock. Yet Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens decided to take a shot at the end zone, and Williams came through with a 22-yard strike to senior Michael Reilly for a 28-7 lead at the break.
Dartmouth took the kick to start the second half and marched 75 yards in eight plays to build a 35-7 advantage. A personal foul and a pass interference penalty helped the Big Green, but a personal foul against Dartmouth left them facing 2nd-and-28 at the Cornell 35. The sideline called for a quarterback draw, and Williams deftly eluded several defenders in the middle of the field and found his way into the end zone.
The Big Red responded with a touchdown drive of their own with Mathews completing a 41-yard bomb to Ondash before connecting with running back Luke Hagy on a 19-yard score.
The score remained a 35-14 into the fourth quarter when Cornell closed to within 14 points after a 10-play, 72-yard drive capped by a two-yard run by Gellatly.
Needing a field goal to make it a three-score game with time winding down, Williams made perhaps the play of the game on 3rd-and-3. Cornell brought the pass rush, flushing Williams to his left. Just when it appeared he had nowhere to go, he flicked a pass to McManus, who picked up 28 yards to the Big Red 30. Another key run by Williams — this time for 11 yards on a 3rd-and-10 — gave sophomore kicker Riley Lyons a much more manageable 34-yard field goal, which he converted.
Senior linebacker Miles Gay provided the third interception of the afternoon near midfield, and senior Greg Patton took the direct snap 51 yards on the next play for a touchdown. The point after glanced off the upright, leaving the score at 44-21.
Mathews tacked on a 39-yard touchdown throw on a 4th-down play with 1:13 left to conclude the day’s scoring.
The Ivy League’s leading tackler, junior linebacker Michael Runger, led the Dartmouth defensive effort with 10 stops, and Reece added eight with his key fumble recovery at the start of the game. Cornell’s Taylor Betros led all players with 12 tackles, four for a loss.
Dartmouth returns to Hanover next Saturday for its final home game of the year when Brown (5-3, 2-3 Ivy) comes to town for a game at 1:30 p.m. Cornell hits the road to play at Columbia (2-6, 1-4 Ivy) at 12:30 p.m.