Football blows out Sacred Heart 49-7, moves to 2-0 on season before Ivy opener

by Alexander Agadjanian | 9/27/15 6:01pm

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Dartmouth’s offense exploded in the first half, putting 35 unanswered points on the scoreboard against the Pioneers.

Both the Dartmouth and Sacred Heart football teams suffered from sloppy early play last Saturday night, as the two teams involved combined for three fumbles within the first four minutes. Yet it was the Big Green that unquestionably emerged as the beneficiary of the turbulent start.

It took only 10 minutes for Dartmouth to build up a 21-point advantage and by halftime the contest was all but decided, as Dartmouth (2-0) cruised to a 49-7 blowout of the Pioneers (2-2) in its first home competition to make it two consecutive dominant wins to open 2015.

In contrast to last week’s game, which saw Dartmouth defeat Georgetown University 31-10, the Big Green immediately settled into an offensive rhythm on Saturday. Quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16, who often emphasizes early success as the key to developing the offense, found Victor Williams ’16 over the middle of the field for 32 yards on the second play from scrimmage. The big play pickup was a harbinger of things to come, but just a few plays later the drive came to an abrupt halt. After Williams completed a pass on third down to Vito Penza ’19 in the flat, the freshman coughed up the ball after being brought down within yards of the end zone.

A goal line turnover often provides a drastic shift in momentum and the following snap added another dose of volatility.

With Sacred Heart starting at its own five-yard line, quarterback R.J. Noel mishandled a low snap and could not recover before Folarin Orimolade ’17 pounced on the ball in the end zone, thereby marking the first points of the game.

Before the Pioneers could make amends on their next offensive snap, a special teams miscue returned the Big Green the ball deep in opposing territory mere seconds later. Leaping into the air so as to evade Big Green tacklers coming in low, return man Nate Chavious lost control of the ball as he fell to the ground. A scrum ensued for the football, and Dartmouth’s Will Konstant ’16 came out with possession.

Despite taking nine plays in what amounted to the team’s second-longest drive of the night, the Big Green offense made sure to capitalize on the opportunity.Ryder Stone ’18 followed a first down conversion through the air with one on the ground on fourth down, and a few plays later punched it in for a touchdown to extend Dartmouth’s lead to 14-0 at the 8:18 mark in the first quarter.

Two minutes later to begin the next offensive possession, Stone burst through a porous Sacred Heart defense for 62 yards to set the team up with another goal line situation. With the opposition on its heels, Dartmouth struck once more, as an option play to the left saw Williams pitch the ball to Brian Grove ’16, who easily covered nine yards to enter the end zone and produce a 21-0 lead.

Williams maintained offensive fluidity into the second quarter, punching in a four-yard score himself on the ground and two minutes later uncorking a 60-yard touchdown bomb down the right sideline to his favorite target of the night, Victor Williams. By halftime, Dartmouth had an overpowering 378-83 edge in total offensive yards — averaging just short of 10 yards per play — as part of out-scoring its visitors 35-0 at the break.

More of the same dominance continued in a comparably uneventful second half of play. Sacred Heart finally got on the scoreboard when Chavious capped a 14-play drive with a one-yard touchdown, but the score was quickly countered three minutes later thanks to a balanced Big Green offensive drive that ended with a three-yard TD scamper by Stone.

The scoring concluded early in the fourth quarter when backup Pioneer quarterback Kevin Duke — who replaced the team’s starter toward the end of the first half — threw an interception to Dartmouth safety David Caldwell ’16, who returned the ball 77 yards down the right sideline for a pick-six to make the score line 49-7.

The play was emblematic of yet another stifling effort from the Big Green defense in the young 2015 campaign. It marked the third defensive touchdown and eighth forced turnover by Dartmouth within the season’s first two games, a period in which the opposing offense has not exceeded 10 points in scoring output and failed to gain more than 4.0 yards per play.

“Guys are just balling out there,” Caldwell said about the performance on Saturday. “The [defensive] line played great. And then I’m playing in a secondary with a bunch of experienced guys that makes it so easy… [it’s] a group of guys with a lot of snaps under their belt.”

Heading into Saturday, the main question was how Dartmouth would respond to Sacred Heart’s defense. Facing an aggressive press coverage and a unit that sent a lot of quarterback pressure, the Big Green played about as well as it could have hoped.

In constantly exploiting the man-to-man defense throughout the entire contest, Dartmouth racked up seven pass plays of at least 30 yards — two of which cracked 40 — in addition to explosive runs of 62 and 21 yards.

For head coach Buddy Teevens, strong play from the offensive line — a relatively inexperienced position on the team roster this year — paved the way for air attack proficiency.

“I think the key was the pass protection,” he said after the game. “We knew that they were going to send a lot of people, and that was the biggest concern. With the matchups, we thought we had some quickness and speed on the perimeter, and if we could hold the fort, [Dalyn Williams] throws the deep ball very well, we’d have a chance. And that was borne out.”

With respect to the passing game, these big play successes had two principal causes. For one, the receiving corps — led by Victor Williams, who finished the night with 11 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown — created massive amounts of separation from Pioneer defenders on what seemed every play.

“The mindset was just, there’s going to be plays out there to be made,” Victor Williams said. “They play a lot of man [coverage], so when you play a lot of man, you blow coverages.”

Secondly, Dalyn Williams had a sublime performance on Saturday, throwing for 313 yards and a TD on 21-28 passing, along with 36 yards and a score on the ground.

The senior quarterback enjoyed pinpoint accuracy for much of the game in anticipating his receivers’ routes well, but also displayed perfect pocket awareness and footwork when in need of escaping the Pioneer rush.

Prior to the game, Teevens elected to sit two of his captains who played in the opening week — Will McNamara ’16 and Ryan McManus ’15 — and continued to keep running back Kyle Bramble ’16 off the field. Despite missing three of its best players, the Big Green didn’t miss a beat, all the while giving important rest to the trio ahead of the start to the Ivy League slate.

“They could’ve gone, and the thought going in was, we think we’ve got what we need with some of the other [players],” Teevens said. “We’re just going to hold point on those guys and give them an extra week to really get up and ready. I think it was a wise move, and it was nice to see that the [other] guys stepped up and played so well.”

The Big Green will now prepare for its Ivy League opener, as the team travels to Philadelphia next Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff time against an upstart squad in the University of Pennsylvania Quakers.