Football crushes Penn in Ivy opener 31-13

by Brett Drucker | 10/5/14 10:59am

10-6-14-sports-footballhoriz-kate-herrington
10.6.14.sports.footballhoriz
by Kate Herrington and Kate Herrington / The Dartmouth

With the rain coming down in Hanover, the Big Green football team crushed the University of Pennsylvania 31-13 to win its first Ivy League opener since 2007 on Saturday.

Dartmouth (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) saw an offensive explosion from Dalyn Williams ’16, who had a career-high three rushing touchdowns on the day and a defensive performance that exemplified the spirit behind the team’s new “granite of New Hampshire” uniforms, forcing three turnovers and four sacks against the Quakers (0-3, 0-1 Ivy).

“I think this game really sets us apart as a team from where we’ve been in the past,” Williams said.

The teams scored all but six of the game’s points scored before the 30-minute mark.

The first five minutes gave Dartmouth a scare, as Penn had two successful drives to open the game. On its first drive, Penn’s uptempo offense moved the ball to the Dartmouth 28 where junior kicker Jimmy Gammill missed a 45-yard field goal.

On their next possession, the Quakers struck first with 54-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open tight end, who found a seam down the middle of the Dartmouth defense.

While head coach Buddy Teevens said giving up a big play like that can “take the wind out of you,” he said he was pleased by the poise the team showed in bouncing back from the early setback.

“Our guys were physical and there was a confidence,” Teevens said. “We don’t get rattled as quickly if something doesn’t go well and it’s just ‘okay next snap.’ They’re smart guys and they know what they’re doing but it’s fun to see the confidence emerge.”

Penn sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen would finish the game throwing for 350 yards on 58 attempts, including 15 to senior wide receiver Spencer Kulcsar, though many were short completions. But, the aerial frenzy was partially a factor of the Big Green’s dominant defensive front that allowed only 33 rushing yards on the day and tallied four sacks.

“Everyone was flying to the ball, everyone was being extremely tough, extremely physical and that’s something we know we have to carry on throughout the rest of the season,” defensive back Frankie Hernandez ’16 said.

From that touchdown on, the game moved in Dartmouth’s favor. The Big Green struck back quickly, scoring a touchdown on an 11-play drive and never looked back. The drive ended with a two-yard touchdown run up the middle from Kyle Bramble ’16 to tie the game at 7-7.

Bramble would finish the day with 104 yards on the ground for the second 100-yard rushing game of his Dartmouth career.

The Big Green defense picked up where the offense left off as Troy Donahue ’15 made a leaping interception of Torgersen on the Dartmouth sideline on the second play of the next drive.

The offense took over at Penn’s 39-yard line with a chance to go ahead early and capitalized on the opportunity with Williams’s first rushing touchdown of the game. The Big Green quarterback showed his athleticism on the drive with 9-yard touchdown run that started at the right hashmark and ended in the left corner of the north end zone.

Williams had an impressive game, rushing for 53 yards and three touchdowns including a few key third-down conversions. The junior also completed 13 of his 23 passes for 107 yards, showcasing the efficacy of the team’s read-option system. Williams noted that he observed frequent over-pursuit on the back side which allowed him to keep the ball and find open space in the middle of the field.

“He’s always been an elusive kid,” Penn head coach Al Bagnoli said after the game.

Throughout the game, the offensive line kept its signal caller upright and did not surrender a sack for the first time this season.

The teams traded three-and-outs to start the second quarter before Dartmouth forced another turnover on a muffled snap that Hernandez pounced on at the Penn 42. Williams would finish the drive with another rushing touchdown, this time a 24-yard scamper on third and seven where the quarterback read an opening up the middle and had to break a reaching tackle at the 10 on his way to the end zone.

Dartmouth would pull away on the next drive, marching 70 yards and finishing with an 11-yard Williams touchdown run on another read up the middle that finished with him leaping over the outstretched arms of two defenders at the goal line to give Dartmouth a commanding 28-7 lead.

Penn would manage to get the ball within the Dartmouth 10 on the next drive but the defense stiffened and forced the Quakers to settle for a field goal and 28-10 deficit at the half.

The rain-soaked second half saw much less offense — each team managed just a field goal.

After getting a 37-yard field goal in the third, Penn’s last major opportunity came on the Quaker’s first drive of the fourth, where the team marched 69 yards to the Dartmouth six, only to see a Torgersen pass to the goal line bounce off his receiver and fall into the hands of Brandon Cooper ’17 at the five for the second interception of the game.

The teams played in the rain from start to finish, conditions that might have limited the Dartmouth passing attack but also created an entertaining atmosphere, the players said.

“As a defensive guy, I’ve always loved playing in the rain,” Hernandez said. “Making hits, everyone’s sliding around. It got everyone a little more fired up. It was really exciting, it was a great time.”

The team next plays at Yale University (3-0, 1-0 Ivy), who have looked to be one of the strongest teams in the Ivy League so far. The Bulldogs have scored more than 40 points in every game this season, including a 49-43 upset victory over the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“This is huge, now we control our destiny,” Williams said. “Our morale is high, we’re confident and we’re ready to face Yale. It’s fine and dandy to be excited about this win, but we have a game coming up in another week, and we have to prepare that way.”

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