Football moves to 3-0 in Ivy with 27-7 win

by Brett Drucker | 10/26/14 4:50pm

After emerging victorious from its own homecoming game last weekend, the Dartmouth football team took home another homecoming win on Saturday, spoiling the weekend for Columbia University. The Big Green (5-1, 3-0 Ivy) surrendered only one touchdown to the Lions (0-6, 0-3 Ivy) and finished with a 27-7 win that was rarely in doubt.

Despite being 3-0 in Ivy League play for the first time since 1997, the game marked the first time all season that the Big Green outgained an opponent in total offensive yards -— topping the Lions 432-326 — and the team’s first four-game win streak since 2003.

Dartmouth jumped on the board early against the league’s last ranked defense, driving 75 yards in 10 plays on its first possession for a touchdown.

Alex Park ’14 started the game at quarterback instead of Dalyn Williams ’16 and threw six completions on the drive that culminated with a 33-yard touchdown run by Kyle Bramble ’16 down the right sideline after a read-option pitch from Park.

Bramble tallied a career-high 126 yards on the ground, averaging 5.5 per rush on the day.

Park would finish the game with 268 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go along with two interceptions in his first start since 2012. QB coach Chris Rorke informed the veteran signal-caller that he was starting as he got on the bus in Hanover.

“Alex has just been plugged in the whole time,” head coach Buddy Teevens said in a postgame press conference. “To have him have an opportunity in his senior year, obviously I was happy for him.”

The Big Green went on to score on four of its first six drives, with the only non-scores ending in interceptions.

On Dartmouth’s third drive, Alex Gakenheimer ’17 drilled a 26-yard field goal to extend the Big Green lead to 10. Park followed this up with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Park to Victor Williams ’16 on the very next drive.

Park’s second interception led to the only Columbia score of the game, a nine-yard touchdown pass that capped a 23-yard drive that was hampered by four penalties against the Lions.

Dartmouth answered immediately, as Kirby Schoenthaler ’15 returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards down the right sideline to the Columbia 44 which was advanced to the 39 after another Columbia penalty.

The Big Green took advantage of the great field position and scored another touchdown with less than one minute remaining in the first half on another pass from Park to Williams crossing the middle of the end zone.

While Williams led the way for the Dartmouth receiving corps with both touchdowns, sure-handed Ryan McManus ’15 led the team with seven catches on the day for a team-high 76-yards.

“Ryan played great, the receivers played great,” Park said in a postgame press conference. “At halftime I felt like I was holding the team back with those two interceptions, and everyone picked me up after that and did a great job.”

The second half proceeded without much excitement, as Dartmouth scored the only points of the half on a 24-yard Gakenheimer field goal near the end of the third quarter.

The Big Green defense added a pair of interceptions to thwart the Lions’ attack. Cornerback Vernon Harris ’16 intercepted a pass from Columbia junior quarterback Trevor McDonagh on the right sideline after jumping the receiver’s route and returned the ball 24 yards to set up the second Gakenheimer field goal of the afternoon.

On the next drive, linebacker Will McNamara ’16 came up with a takeaway of his own on a pass over the middle in the red zone to snuff out Columbia’s final scoring threat.

In a sign of the team’s growth, despite the victory, in the post-game press conference both players and coach Teevens seemed disappointed.

“We just went out there and didn’t make as many plays as we wanted to,” McNamara said in the press conference. “We didn’t execute as well as we planned.”

McNamara leads the Ivy League in tackles with 10.8 per game, over two more than the second-place player.

Going into the weekend, Dartmouth was one of three remaining undefeated Ivy League teams along with Harvard University and Princeton University, who matched up in New Jersey this weekend as well. The Crimson (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) dominated its hosts in an impressive 49-7 rout that saw Harvard jump out to a 49-0 lead before the Tigers (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) even got on the board.

The lopsided Harvard victory sets up a critical clash between the two remaining undefeated Ivy League teams next week when the Crimson travels to Hanover in what could be the de facto Ivy League championship game.

Teevens said that his team played an imperfect game against Columbia and noted that Big Green needs to put together a better performance to knock off the defending co-Ivy champion Crimson next week.

“It’s a nice teaching opportunity,” he said. “The guys are smart guys, they know we didn’t play as well as we need to. The reality is, we need to put an ‘A’ game together.”

The game against Harvard kicks off at Memorial Field at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.