Football team to face Brown in R.I.
The football team seeks to keep its slim Ivy League title hopes alive with an away victory over Brown University on Saturday in Providence, R.I.
A win over Brown (5-3, 2-3 Ivy) this weekend and losses by Harvard University and Princeton University against Yale University would set up a showdown in two weeks where Dartmouth (4-4, 3-2 Ivy) could earn a share of the title against the Tigers.
Saturday’s meeting represents the 91st game in a series where Dartmouth leads 55-31-4. Brown has won 11 of the last 15 meetings and currently sits one game behind the Big Green. The Bears have been eliminated from title contention, but are looking to play spoiler.
Last season, Brown rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit, scoring the game-winning touchdown with just over one minute left. Two years ago, Dartmouth ended Brown’s title hopes with a 21-16 win in Providence, R.I.
Saturday will be the final away game for Dartmouth’s seniors.
Last weekend, Yale stunned Brown with a 24-17 win on the game’s final drive, when junior wideout Deon Randall scampered 32 yards for the game-winning score with just 19 seconds remaining. Brown’s desperate last-second Hail Mary was batted down in the end zone, icing the win.
Brown’s other two losses this season were 41-23 to Harvard and 39-17 to Princeton.
The Bears’ season has been erratic. Following the loss to Princeton, Brown barely squeaked by Cornell University (1-7, 0-5 Ivy) the next week, winning 42-35, before demolishing the University of Pennsylvania 27-0 one week later.
Offensively, Brown mounts a balanced attack averaging 432 yards and 30.4 points per game, led by senior quarterback Patrick Donnelly. Donnelly has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and 232 yards per game. He is also mobile enough to keep Dartmouth’s defense honest, scrambling 39 times for 145 yards and a score.
“We know they have a talented offense and he’ll have to focus on being assignment sound,” co-captain free safety Garrett Waggoner ’13 said. “We have to come out and play well right from the start and we look forward to a physical game.”
Helping Donnelly is senior running back John Spooney, who has rushed for 818 yards on 96 carries and nine touchdowns. Spooney has the potential to grind out yards like he did against Yale when he ran 27 times for 125 yards. Dartmouth must watch out because he is a big play waiting to happen, with touchdown runs of 71, 73, 81, 93 and 94 yards.
Donnelly has plenty of options to choose from in the passing game, as seniors Tellef Lundevall and Jordan Evans and junior Brian Strachan will challenge Dartmouth’s secondary.
Lundevall has tallied 47 catches for 567 yards and three scores while Evans has 42 catches for 501 yards and four scores. From the slot, Strachan has 30 receptions for 299 yards and a score.
Brown’s offense has been prolific because of its offensive line, ranked seventh in the nation for sacks allowed and ninth for tackles for loss allowed.
If the game is close, which it will likely be, Brown can trust its kicker, senior Alex Norocea, to kick a potential game-winning field goal. Norocea has missed just one field goal all year, going nine of 10 with a long of 45.
Dalyn Williams ’16, who has been alternating between hot and cold, will be harassed all afternoon by Brown’s fearsome pass rush. Led by seniors John Bumpus and Michael Yules, who have 4.5 and six sacks respectively, Brown’s pass rush has reached the quarterback 27 times, earning respect as the fourth best pass rush in the nation.
Brown’s defense has been incredibly opportunistic, registering 10 interceptions, five by senior Emory Polley, six fumble recoveries and 18 breakups. Polley’s .6 interceptions per game ranks first in the FCS.
Junior Daniel Giovacchini leads the linebacker corps with 54 tackles as the defense allows 362 yards and 21.8 points per game.
Dominick Pierre ’14 should return as Dartmouth’s starting running back after leaving last weekend’s game against Cornell with an injury. Otherwise, Kyle Bramble ’16 will be able to step up and perform. Last weekend, Bramble experienced a breakout performance with more than 100 yards on the ground and was named Northeast Credit Union athlete of the week.
In an interview conducted by Dartmouth’s football program, Bramble explained how Dartmouth prepared for Brown’s football game. Brown’s football field is the only one in the Ivy League with grass instead of artificial turf.
“This week we’re actually practicing on the grass fields we have over by the hockey stadium,” Bramble said. “I played on grass in high school so it’s pretty comfortable.”
Dartmouth and Brown play on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.