Football earns Homecoming win

by Brett Drucker | 10/19/14 2:10pm

10.20.14.sports.football1_Katelyn-Jones
The football team roared out of the gates then held on to defeat Holy Cross 24-21 on Homecoming.
Source: Katelyn Jones

Last season when Dartmouth met the College of the Holy Cross on the gridiron in Hanover, the Crusaders drove 67 yards in the waning minutes of the game to kick a game-winning field goal. This year, with another opportunity for a demoralizing game-ending drive, a mature Dartmouth (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) defense halted Holy Cross (2-6) in its tracks.

With the sun peeking out from behind the clouds over Memorial Field nearly three hours into the game, Dartmouth held Holy Cross to a sack and three incomplete passes to seal a 24-21 victory in the Big Green’s Homecoming game.

Despite appearing to have the game in hand after going up 24-6 at the end of the third quarter, the Big Green struggled to finish off the Crusaders, who scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the game yet another exciting chapter in the school’s 101-year rivalry.

The Big Green, which relied on the passing game last week against Yale University, returned to its roots with a powerful running attack against Holy Cross. Dartmouth running back Kyle Bramble ’16 rushed for 113 yards, his second 100-yard rushing game of the season.

“We started off slow,” co-captain center Sean Ronan ’15 said. “But the offensive line as a unit knew that it was going to be on us.”

Quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16 added 64 yards on the ground in addition to a 15 completions on 23 attempts for 156 yards and a pair of scores through the air.

In addition to snuffing out the Crusaders’ final attempt at the end of the fourth quarter, the Big Green defense also came up with a pair of interceptions on the day. Nickelback Frankie Hernandez ’16 nabbed his first career pick early in the second quarter and safety Donahue had his third of the season early in the third quarter, which sparked Dartmouth’s second touchdown drive.

The teams traded field goals to start the scoring. Neither team could generate more than 30 yards on a drive before Dartmouth broke through with the first touchdown of the game on an eight-yard strike from Williams to wide receiver Ryan McManus ’15 in the right corner of the end zone with 1:11 remaining in the first half.

McManus would finish the game as Dartmouth’s leading receiver in the game, hauling in eight receptions for 89 yards.

Holy Cross managed to drive 51 yards in eight plays in the final minute of the half to kick a 39-yard field goal as time expired that made the score 10-6 at the break.

Head coach Buddy Teevens said that the team discussed being physical and executing as areas of improvement during the half.

After the offense failed to capitalize on its opening drive of the second half, Troy Donahue ’15 picked off Holy Cross sophomore quarterback Peter Pujals and shifted the momentum in Dartmouth’s favor.

After the interception, the Big Green marched on a methodical 11-play 81-yard drive that was capped by a seven-yard play-action pass from Williams to an open Bramble for a touchdown.

The Dartmouth defense, aided by a holding penalty, forced a punt on the next series that McManus returned to the Holy Cross 48 yard line, giving the Big Green great field position to strike again.

Riding a powerful running attack that averaged 5.7 yards per carry, Dartmouth scored again on a six-yard run by Brian Grove ’16, who went untouched off the right tackle to give the Big Green a seemingly insurmountable 24-6 lead after three quarters.

But, the Crusaders refused to quit, filling the fourth quarter with much more tension than the first 45 minutes would have predicted.

On their first possession of the fourth, Holy Cross reeled off a masterful 17-play drive that took 6:56 and ended in the visitor’s first touchdown of the night. On Dartmouth’s next possession, the Big Green stalled at the Holy Cross 42 and failed to convert on fourth and three. The Crusaders took advantage of the field position and drive for another touchdown, making the score 24-21 with just over two minutes to go after succeeding on the two-point conversion thanks to a strong second effort.

Dartmouth went three and out on the next series, but a well-placed punt from Ben Kepley ’17 backed the Crusaders up to their eight yard line with just 1:25 remaining and no time outs.

Dartmouth set the tone on the first play, with Cody Fulleton ’16 and Corbin Stall ’15 combining for a sack. The secondary shut down Pujals’s options and forced him to throw three incompletions under significant pressure to more or less end the game.

For the second season in a row, Pujals impressed against Dartmouth, throwing for 208 yards and rushing for 82, but the sophomore quarterback’s effort could not bring his team back from an 18-point hole.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Donahue said. “I’m definitely glad that’s the last time I’ll ever have to see him.”

After Saturday’s game, the record between the two rests perfectly tied at 37-37-4, including alternating wins and losses over the last five years.

Last season, the Big Green lost a dramatic contest to Holy Cross on a last-second field goal which frustrated many of the players. But this season, instead of reeling, the players were confident enough to attack and execute to finish the game, Donahue said.

“We were put in that same situation, two minute offense, and this year we were able to get the stop,” he said. “It’s a little bit of redemption.”

Teevens pointed to the team’s growth, noting his pride that the group learned from the previous experience and succeeded the second time around.

“A nice sign of maturation is that they’re disappointed with the way that they finished the game,” Teevens said.

The team returns to Ivy League play next week as it travels to New York to take on the winless Columbia University Lions at 1:30 p.m.