Football seeks revenge on Quakers in Ivy League opener
In 2012, Dartmouth lost a heartbreaker to the University of Pennsylvania by a touchdown. In 2013, after a missed game-winning field goal by the Big Green, the Quakers eventually prevailed in quadruple overtime.
Now, one year after knocking off the presumptive champion in the final week of the season and inching closer to the top of the Ivy League, the football team prepares to open play in the Ancient Eight this weekend as it seeks revenge against the University of Pennsylvania.
In what has become one of the league’s most exciting matchups, the Big Green (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) heads into the game looking to avenge its two last-second losses to the Quakers (0-2, 0-0 Ivy) in the past two seasons.
In 2012 in Hanover, the Big Green fell into a 20-0 hole by halftime before storming back to within a touchdown, eventually falling just short of a miraculous comeback, 28-21.
Last season, the two teams played the longest game in Ivy League history in a back-and-forth thriller at Penn’s historic Franklin Field. The Quakers pulled out a hard-fought 37-31 win in four overtimes.
“It was one of those ones where you just kept wondering if it was ever going to end,” defensive coordinator Don Dobes said. “Obviously, we were devastated. We felt like we had a great opportunity to win it a couple of times and, for one reason or another, either offensively, defensively or special teams, we didn’t get the job done.”
The Big Green looks to shake off an inconsistent performance from last week. Dartmouth fell 52-19 at the University of New Hampshire.
On offense, defense and special teams, the Big Green chalked the loss up, in large part, to a series of mental mistakes.
“I think, athletically, our team is there,” running back Kyle Bramble ’16 said. “We just need to go through our assignment and actually do what we’re supposed to be doing.”
The most impressive performance for Dartmouth in Durham was kick-returner Kirby Schoenthaler ’15, who tallied a Dartmouth-record 198 return yards over the game, including a 92-yard return that gave the Big Green offense the ball at the UNH two-yard line.
Both players and coaches said that, although the early games are helpful to improve and evaluate the team, Ivy League contests are always the biggest games.
“It was good to play against two really good teams to find out what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at,” he said. “We’re really excited about getting [Ivy play] going. This is what it’s all about.”
The Dartmouth offense has shown spurts of success this season, in the second half against CCSU and on back-to-back scoring drives against UNH, but lacks consistency.
“We had a lot of mistakes [against UNH], even on basic plays that we’ve run since I’ve been here,” wide receiver Victor Williams ’16 said. “So we just need to get those kinks out, and make sure that we take care of our assignments and execute a lot better than we did last week.”
Quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16, who is tied for the Ivy League lead in passing touchdowns with five this season, will look to exploit the Quakers defense that has allowed 480 yards of offense on average per game this season.
On the defensive side, the Dartmouth unit will need to recover from last week’s performance by cutting down on the 531 yards they gave up to the Wildcats.
Dartmouth will try to send the Quakers back to Philadelphia still winless on the season after falling to Villanova University and Jacksonville State in their first two games.
Despite its record, Williams cautioned about reading too much into the team’s prowess.
“I don’t take anything from it,” he said. “I like to come into each week and prepare as if they’re just another opponent and have respect for any opponent we play against.”
Penn will be starting sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen who is making his first career Ivy League start. Torgersen replaces the graduated Billy Ragone who had been a thorn in Dartmouth’s side throughout his career, going 5-0 as a starter against the Big Green.
The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that the Quaker defense may be without senior captain and linebacker Dan Davis who suffered a concussion last week and would be evaluated in the days leading up to the game.
The Big Green seeks its 18th Ivy League title, its first since 1996.
“That’s something we’re looking forward to, winning the conference, winning the Ivy League championship,” Bramble said. “It’s been a while since we’ve won one. I think we’re all ready to go. Everyone’s going to be jacked up. It’s going to be a big game.”
Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Field and will be broadcast on regional TV on Fox College Sports Atlantic.