Football can't hold on vs. Brown
"After what happened last year, it doesn't get much sweeter than this," Brown head coach Phil Estes said. "It wasn't about going out and playing for revenge. We just wanted to play within ourselves and do what we needed to win."
Brown trailed, 24-21, when it took over possession at its own 20-yard line with 3:30 to play. From there, Bears quarterback Patrick Donnelly took over, leading Brown on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 18-yard throw to wideout Jonah Fay for the game-winning score. Fay exploited the Big Green's cover-two defense and cut to the middle, where Donnelly's lob fell into his hands.
"We had been working a lot of flag routes to the outside, and we decided to take advantage of that for that play," Estes said.
Donnelly was masterful with the game on the line, completing all six of his passes on the drive for 66 yards and rushing for 11 more to seal the victory.
"We had an opportunity to finish the game and put them away early, but we didn't convert," Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said. "We let them hang around, and their quarterback made us pay. It was a disappointing loss."
Estes said he was proud of how his team responded despite facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter.
"It was a great effort because we gave Dartmouth every opportunity to win with penalties and turnover," Estes said. "We really shot ourselves in the foot."
On a day that the Big Green offense flourished under the command of quarterback Dalyn Williams '16, it was the team's defense ranked second in the Ivy League in yards per game that let Dartmouth down when it most needed it.
The Dartmouth offense started off sluggishly, losing a fumble when Dominick Pierre '14 coughed it up at his own 28-yard line on the Big Green's third offensive play. The Bears recovered and struck quickly, taking a seven-point lead just three plays later. Donnelly connected on an 11-yard strike to tight end Andrew Marks for the touchdown.
On the following Big Green drive, Dartmouth had success running the ball, but it was stymied by a holding penalty and could not convert on a fourth-and-one from the Brown 36.
Dartmouth caught a break on the next possession, as safety Stephen Dazzo '15 forced a fumble after a 55-yard completion from Donnelly to wide receiver Fay. Cornerback Chai Reece '15 recovered, and Dartmouth tacked on a field goal to make it 7-3. Dazzo and Reece once again teamed up to set up the Big Green's next score, with Dazzo stripping fullback Cody Taulbee and Reece recovering to give Dartmouth possession at the Brown 46. Four plays later, Pierre scampered in for a touchdown from 33 yards out to give the Big Green a 10-7 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Dartmouth offense got the ball back at its own 19 and embarked on the team's longest drive of the season. The Brown defense appeared to stop the Big Green offense on multiple occasions, but Williams' legs kept the drive going. The freshman quarterback, who got the start over Alex Park '14, came up big when he had to, eluding tacklers and sneaking past the sticks multiple times on the 81-yard drive.
When the Big Green got into the red zone, Park saw his first and only action of the game, completing one pass for seven yards and a first down. Pierre capped off the drive with his second touchdown run of the game, this time cashing in from six yards out.
Brown took over with just 1:31 to play in the half, but thanks largely to a couple of big plays underneath the deep Dartmouth safeties, the Bears had no problem moving it down the field, with Donnelly running it into the end zone from two yards out to make the halftime score 17-14, Dartmouth.
After a largely uneventful third quarter, Williams connected with wideout Michael Reilly '12 on a 10-yard strike to put the Big Green up, 24-14, with nine seconds to play in the third. The fourth quarter belonged to the Bears, however, as Brown scored two touchdowns to take the victory. The trouble started on Dartmouth's first possession of the quarter, when Williams was sacked at his own two-yard line on third-and-18, forcing the Big Green to punt from its own end zone.
The 39-yard punt from Riley Lyons '15 was returned to the Dartmouth 21, giving the Bears fantastic field position to work with. Donnelly capped the short drive with a three-yard touchdown run in which he scrambled back to about the 15-yard line to evade the Dartmouth pass rush before turning up the field and into the end zone. From there, the Brown defense forced a stop, with Lyons eventually pooch punting into the end zone after the Big Green set up for a field goal. That set the scene for Donnelly's late heroics.
Center Rob Bathe '13 echoed Teevens, saying that the game came down to a few critical downs that the team could not convert.
"It was a game of missed opportunities," Bathe said of his final contest at Memorial Field. "We played our hearts out, and sometimes it just doesn't go your way."
The Big Green bested the Bears in every category, amassing 421 yards in over 38 minutes of possession to Brown's 384 yards in 21 minutes of possession.
"We had the ball a lot and put up a lot of yards we just didn't put up a lot of points," Teevens said. "There was a lot of good from today's game, but we just weren't able to convert those few critical plays."
The loss eliminated the Big Green from contention for the Ivy League championship, for which Dartmouth could have tied depending on the result of next weekend's game between Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. With a 30-21 victory over Harvard University on Saturday, Penn stands alone at 5-1 in the Ivy League and has clinched at least a share of its third Ivy title in four seasons. A win over Cornell on Saturday would give the Quakers the title outright.
The Big Green will travel to Princeton University on Saturday with a second-place finish still possible for Dartmouth. Though Dartmouth is tied for fourth with Brown, if Harvard loses to Yale University, a win on Saturday would ensure that Dartmouth finishes in a tie for second.