Dartmouth football pounces on Penn in Ivy opener, 21-13
A blocked punt deep in Dartmouth's (1-2, 1-0 Ivy) territory set up a quick touchdown strike and, soon after, an onside kick recovery for the Quakers (0-3, 0-1 Ivy) with 2:37 remaining in the game. Quarterback Bryan Walker's two minute drill brought Penn to the Big Green six on fourth down.
There are differing opinions on what happened next. Walker found TE Dan Coleman on a skinny slant to the left side of the endzone. Coleman bobbled the ball as he was falling, and after much discussion by the officiating crew the pass was ruled incomplete. Penn head coach Al Bagnoli insisted that "[Coleman] says he bobbled it, got it between his legs, it never hit the ground and he picked it up."
Bagnoli also complained about which official made the incomplete call, "If the guys who were on top of it called it I would have felt a lot better. You just cant be overruling people coming from fifty yards away."
"It's a tough way to end a game, and a little bit more controversial than I would like," he said.
"I saw it hit the ground," said Joe Battaglia '08, who was just feet from the play. "I saw him go down and he was sitting on it, so I knew it wasn't good."
For Dartmouth, the win and late defensive stand proved they could turn a first half lead into a victory. "The guys had been there, and said we're going to get this done," head coach Buddy Teevens said after the game. "It could have gone the way of the Colgate game, but it didn't."
Quarterback Tom Bennewitz '08 took over most of the offensive work in the absence of RB Milan Williams '09. Bennewitz threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first collegiate win as a starting quarterback.
"I thought it was Tom's best ball game," Teevens said. "I'm ver y pleased with his progression."
Williams planned to return from a groin injur y against the Quakers, but reinjured his leg in Friday's practice. Rob Mitchelson '10 got the nod to start in the backfield, and rushed for 42 yards on 15 carries. Nate Servis '09 added 28 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively the Big Green made big plays and big stops when they needed to be made. The Quakers made it to the Dartmouth red zone six times with only one touchdown to show for it. Three of those stops came on downs in the fourth quarter.
"Every time we got a big stop you couldn't get any more enthusiasm out of us," Battaglia said of the Dartmouth defense. "We knew we were going to have to stay on the field pretty late in the fourth quarter ... and we just knew we had to step up and everybody was ready to do it."
"We had a strong of fensive performance in the first half, and a strong defensive performance in the second half," Teevens said. "The corners tackled well. The defensive line generated a little bit of pressure, which we haven't seen before."
Dartmouth took a 7-6 lead into the locker room at halftime, but broke the game open with scores early in both the third and fourth quar ters. Bennewitz found a streaking Brian Evans for a 35-yard touchdown in the third. Following suit, Eric Paul '09 beat his man and made a spectacular catch on the right sideline for a 29-yard score.
"[The defender] tripped over my foot as he was trying to turn his hips," Paul said. "That was probably one of the hardest catches I've ever made, being that wide open. I knew it was coming to me the whole time, I just had to focus and make the play."
Walker threw for 266 yards and one touchdown for the Quakers, mostly short passes over the middle. Notably, he did not throw any interceptions, impressive after Penn threw the ball away seven times last weekend against Villanova.
The Quakers' run game also performed well. Joe Sandberg ran for 80 yards on 20 tries, but could not find the endzone when it was needed the most.
Dartmouth continues its Ivy League schedule with a trip to 20th-ranked Yale this Saturday. The Bulldogs are fresh off a 38-17 defeat of Holy Cross. Kickoff is at 12:30.