Football looks to bounce back from disappointing Ivy loss
“We’re on to Cincinnati.”
Those were the words of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the post-game press conference after the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Without dwelling on the defeat, the Patriots came back to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in convincing fashion. But in the post-game presser, the stoic message was the same: “We’re on to Buffalo.” Or so joked Tom Brady.
Coming off a 23-12 loss to undefeated Harvard University, the Dartmouth football team heads off on its own journey to upstate New York this weekend, looking to get back into the win column against Cornell University.
And inside the Big Green locker room, the mantra seems to be the same: We’re on to Ithaca.
“We’re definitely upset that we lost to Harvard, but we’ve got three more games left and we’re ready to get after it and have fun playing them and dominate the rest of the season,” co-captain Sean Ronan ’15 said.
Last weekend, the Crimson and Big Green entered the contest with matching 3-0 records for the first time since 1997. The were the league’s last undefeated teams.
Despite a series of opportunities throughout the game, Dartmouth could not catch up to Harvard after the visitors scored on their first possession of the game.
“[The team was] definitely disappointed,” linebacker Will McNamara ’16 said. “Guys just really expected to win that game. It was a game that we all felt we could have won if we played the way we should play because the talent’s here to win. It’s just upsetting when you don’t execute.”
The Big Green saw its running game held to only 94 yards on the ground and had three turnovers, two fumbles and an interception, which doomed any chance of a comeback.
“We just can’t turn the ball over,” Ronan said reflecting on the loss. “We had one crucial turnover down in the red zone area, and they took advantage of it and scored on us. You just can’t do that against good teams.”
Dartmouth will travel to Ithaca, New York, to take on the winless Cornell (0-7, 0-4 Ivy). The team hopes for a return to its winning ways.
The Big Red has struggled on both sides of the ball this season, averaging the lowest average yards per game in the league (261.4) while allowing the third most yards per game in the league on defense (432.3). Cornell has also been outscored 96-233 through the first seven games of the season.
Cornell has seen a carousel at the quarterback position, with four players seeing significant action under center this season. Last week in a 38-27 loss to Princeton University, sophomore Robert Somborn got the nod and completed 23 of 40 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the biggest offensive performance for a Big Red quarterback this season.
Last year when the two teams met in Hanover, Dartmouth came away with a convincing 34-6 win. The Big Green was led by quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16, who threw for 156 yards in addition to 96 on the ground and a four-sack performance from the defense that kept the Big Red off the scoreboard until midway through the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
The win gave Dartmouth five victories in a row over its Ivy rival and a 56-40-1 advantage in the series, which dates back to their first meeting in 1900.
Because the Ivy League does not participate in the FCS playoffs, the Ivy title is the pinnacle of a football team’s potential achievement, giving added importance to every league game, kicker Alex Gakenheimer ’17 said.
“Every week is championship week,” he said. “In context, I think everybody’s fired up.”
Despite the disappointment of losing the opportunity for Dartmouth’s first undefeated season since 1996 and a clear path toward the Ivy League title, the players remained focused on the task ahead.
“We’re trying to win out,” Ronan said. “That will put us in a good spot, hopefully. We don’t control our own destiny right now but as long as we win our games, we’ll have a chance. It all starts with Cornell.”
The game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.