Football rekindles Granite State rivalry

by Brett Drucker | 9/25/14 3:14pm

by Katelyn Jones / The Dartmouth

The only two Division I schools in New Hampshire will face off this weekend on the gridiron for the first time since 2009, as the Big Green travels to Durham to take on No. 7 University of New Hampshire.UNH (2-1, 1-0 CAA) comes into the game ranked seventh in the national FCS Coaches’ Pool and is looking to improve on last season’s national semifinal appearance. After losing its first game to FBS University of Toledo, UNH rolled off a pair of wins over Lehigh University and the University of Richmond.Dartmouth (1-0, 0-0 Ivy), on the other hand, is playing only its second game of the season. Last weekend, the Big Green defeated Central Connecticut State University under the lights in Hanover, 35-25.The last time the two teams met, Dartmouth was in the midst of a 17-game losing streak and at one of its lowest points of the decade. The then No. 6 Wildcats rolled to a 44-14 victory. This year, however, the Big Green is regarded as a contender for the Ivy League title, which should lead to a much more competitive game.“It’s definitely a challenge that we’re looking forward to,” wide receiver Ryan McManus ’15 said. “We want to see how we stack up against one of the best teams in the nation.”One of the most important battles of the game figures to be in the trenches on the offensive and defensive lines, an area head coach Buddy Teevens identified for improvement in a press conference following the team’s first game.For Dartmouth, it will be crucial to keep quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16 on his feet. After a shaky first half last week where the team struggled to protect the quarterback and let receivers get open, Williams and the offense began to click on the last drive of the first half and continued rolling in the second, reeling off four consecutive scores to put the game out of reach.“I think we just have to be consistent and protect up front,” McManus said. “I think last game we had some times when the line was blocking well, and the receivers weren’t getting open. This week we just need to string it all together.”Williams was awarded Ivy League co-offensive player of the week for his nearly 300 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) last week.McManus was another key contributor to last week’s offense, tallying a career-high 117 receiving yards in addition to a highlight-reel touchdown in the third quarter.The Dartmouth defense will have its hands full with the Wildcats’ powerful offense that boasts the nation’s fourth-highest passing offense, averaging 336 yards per game. While the offense will be hindered by an injury to junior starting quarterback Sean Goldrich last week, the replacement, senior Andy Vailas has had considerable game experience over his collegiate career including starting six games for the Wildcats last season.Defensive back Troy Donahue ’15 said he hoped that the team could take last week’s momentum and use it against the strong UNH team.The Wildcats’ defense has allowed an average of 26.5 points per game against FCS opponents.The Big Green will play under the lights for the second consecutive week, but this time Dartmouth has a nearly two-hour bus ride across the state before kickoff. Despite having a longer day of travel, assistant coach Cortez Hankton suggested that the veteran team may actually benefit from spending time together on the road.The teams have met 37 times since their first encounter in 1901 with Dartmouth winning the first 16, outscoring its cross-state rivals by an astounding margin of 432-42. However, in recent years, the momentum has switched in the opposite direction with UNH, who has been ranked in the FCS top-25 every week since September 2004, winning the last 12 matchups. The last time the Big Green defeated the Wildcats was in 1976, when Teevens was the third-string signal caller for Dartmouth.The game will also serve as the Big Green’s final tune-up before Ivy League play begins next week. Then, Dartmouth will host the University of Pennsylvania Quakers.