Rain, mud and a stifling Yale defense were more than enough to drown the Big Green at the Yale Bowl on Saturday. Dartmouth (1-3, Ivy 0-2) was unable to halt its slide towards the Ivy League cellar as the Big Green fell to the Bulldogs (2-2, Ivy 2-0) 13-0, shutout by Yale for the first time since 1979. After a season-opening upset over Colgate, Dartmouth has dropped three straight including two Ivy League losses to Penn and now Yale.
One needs to look no further than the box scores of Dartmouth's last two contests to see a glaring problem. During the Big Green's last 120 minutes of play, the team's offense has accumulated just 350 total yards and, most notably, a meager nine points. Conversely, the Big Green's play on the defensive side of the ball has been very solid, but with very limited offensive support little can be done to garner wins as of late.
After blocking a Big Green punt (Dartmouth's third blocked punt in two games) early in the first, Yale moved the ball within the Dartmouth ten-yard line. However, the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs after hitting a brick wall of Big Green defenders on fourth down from the one-yard line. However, Dartmouth was unable to capitalize on the momentum shift and after another three-and-out, Yale took advantage of the good field position with a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Alex Faherty, closing out the first quarter.
Three minutes into the second frame, Dartmouth was essentially handed a scoring opportunity when Mike Rabil '06 recovered a Bulldog fumble on the Yale 13-yard line. Once again, the Big Green squandered Yale's gift after quarterback Charlie Rittgers '06 was sacked twice and kicker Erik Hinterbichler '06 missed a long 43-yard field goal attempt.
"I think the weather had some affect on our inability to score yesterday," said Rittgers. "But Yale played on the same field we did, and there is no excuse for not being able to produce points."
On the following Yale drive, Joe Gibalski '07 picked-off a pass from senior QB Jeff Mroz, yet Dartmouth failed to profit from its defense's efforts once again. Hinterbichler missed another field goal wide right.
"Our passing game was inefficient throughout the game," said Rittgers. "As the quarterback, I obviously take responsibility for our inability to pass the ball."
Special teams continued to fail the Big Green when a punt on Dartmouth's next drive was mishandled and Yale picked up the ball on Dartmouth's 33-yard line. The Big Green defense covered for the offense's futility once more as team captain Josh Dooley '06 intercepted Mroz's pass in the end zone, saving a touchdown.
The third quarter featured much of the same as Dartmouth was held scoreless. The Big Green defense didn't allow Yale any points either, and the game moved into the final quarter with the Bulldogs on top 6-0.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Yale completed a 77-yard drive when Mroz found a streaking Todd Feiereisen in the end-zone for a 20-yard touchdown. With the score 13-0, the Big Green looked deflated, reaching Yale territory only one time in the fourth quarter, never coming closer than 47-yards to the goal line.
"It was a frustrating game, and a game we could have won," said Rittgers. Rittgers, clearly dismayed with his own performance, completed 10 of 22 passes for 56 yards. Tailback Jason Bash '06 carried the ball 20 times for 80 yards and no Dartmouth receiver had more than 17 yards on the day.
However, the Big Green offensive line was partly to blame for Rittgers' throwing troubles. Rittgers has been sacked 20 times in four games this year, an unacceptable number for an already sputtering offense. Without the time to sit in the pocket and find open receivers, Rittgers will have no choice but to continue to force the issue when under pressure " something Dartmouth is looking to avoid.
The Big Green will close out its non-conference schedule next Saturday when the team travels to Worcester, Mass., to take on Holy Cross (4-2). The Crusaders are coming off a 13-10 upset victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh on Saturday after escaping with a win at Yale a week earlier. Rittgers hopes to cure his team's offensive woes, saying simply, "We have to stay together and work to get back on track against Holy Cross."
The Big Green and the Crusaders kickoff at 1 p.m.