Big Green football seeking fast start in home finale

by Andrew Sloan | 11/10/06 6:00am

After throwing for almost 300 yards in a losing effort last week, Mike Fritz '07 will try to ignite a Big Green offense that has struggled early in games.
by Emma Haberman / The Dartmouth

The Big Green (1-7, 1-4 Ivy League) has demonstrated lately a penchant for falling behind early and making valiant comeback efforts that fall just short. Such uneven performances characterized Dartmouth's losses to Yale (26-14), Penn (17-10) and Cornell (28-25).

In last week's loss to the Cornell Big Red (3-5, 2-3 Ivy League), Dartmouth managed two fourth-quarter touchdowns before the Big Red recovered a last-ditch onside kick effort. Cornell's quarterback Nathan Ford then converted on a fourth-down play, rushing past the first down marker midway through the drive and effectively ending Dartmouth's comeback chances.

Much of the blame for the Big Green's loss rested on its slow start, as Dartmouth fell behind 21-0 in the first half. "It was a slow start by us, as opposed to a rapid start by them," said Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens. "They scored quickly, then it stopped. But by then we were playing catch-up football."

For Dartmouth to get out to a rapid start of its own against Brown (3-5, 2-3 Ivy) Saturday, the Big Green will need to make use of its offensive weapons.

Leading the way for Dartmouth is senior quarterback Mike Fritz '07, who had a career day through the air last Saturday, throwing for 298 yards. The versatile Fritz has made plays all season when he's been forced out of the pocket, and the senior even leads the team in rushing, carrying the ball 78 times for a total of 489 yards and one touchdown.

Milan Williams '09 is looking to finish the year as the team's number-one running back, a position he has been vying for with Hudson Smythe '09 this season. Last week Williams had a breakout game, rushing 11 times for 55 yards and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average. He had a long of 18 yards and crossed the goal line twice.

Williams recognizes the importance of starting out well, saying, "We came out really flat for the beginning of the game and gave them 21 points and by halftime it was 21-10. When we came out the gate for the second half we moved the ball well ... When you go down to teams like that in this league and only play half a game, you can't win that way."

The Big Green will be going up against a fearsome Brown offense that has feasted on opposing defenses. The Brown offense is led by senior quarterback Joseph DiGiacomo. DiGiacomo averages 227 yards-per-game through the air and has thrown for 12 touchdowns. The Bears offense averages a whopping 350 total yards-per-game.

Brown's leading rusher is senior Akin Oyalowo, who has seen playing time in seven of the team's first eight games, and has carried the ball 93 times for 350 yards and six scores.

"They're explosive offensively," Teevens said of the Bears. "They're putting the points on the board. Their quarterback is quite productive, and he has two real gifted receivers who can run with the ball after contact. Their multiplicity is the concern. They're effective on the ground and in the air."

The Big Green leads the all-time series 53-26-4, and has a 20-10-2 lead in games played in Hanover. The Bears have won seven of the last eight contests, and three of the previous four in Hanover. Brown head coach Phil Estes is 7-1 all-time against Dartmouth, and Teevens holds a 4-2 record versus the Bears.

Saturday's game is set for 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Field. The game will be broadcast on WDCR AM 1340 and WFRD 99.3 FM. There is also a web-feed available for a small fee with live video coverage of all of the Big Green's contests.