Football preps for final home game of the season against Brown
When Dartmouth and Brown University meet on Memorial Field Saturday, they play the Big Green’s final home game of the season, while also stepping into a larger history of Ivy League football.
After the game, the 91-year-old west stands, home to the student section and press box, will be torn down and renovated for the first time since the stadium was built in remembrance of the 112 Dartmouth students who died in WWI. While the field has seen several renovations over the years, like the addition of the Floren Varsity House and the installation of a new turf playing surface, the concrete west stands are the main element of the stadium remaining.
“The mindset is about enjoying our last home game with all of our brothers and hopefully putting on a great show for our fans one more time,” right guard A.J. Dillione ’15 said.
Since the two teams first met on Memorial Field in 1924 (a 10-3 Dartmouth win), the Big Green (6-2, 4-1 Ivy) has been the more successful two program. However, over the past five years, the Big Green and the Bears (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) have developed a tight rivalry, with each contest coming down to a touchdown or less. Brown has won three of its last five games against Dartmouth, including the last two in Hanover.
In last season’s matchup in Providence, the Big Green came away with a dramatic 24-20 win. The Big Green closed off the win with a critical defensive stand in Dartmouth territory with 1:25 remaining. This weekend, the Big Green looks to preserve its hopes of a shared Ivy League title, which would be the program’s first since 1996.
Dartmouth enters the game coming off a commanding victory at Cornell University last weekend. Despite surrendering the first touchdown, the Big Green stormed back to score 42 unanswered points.
“Sometimes we come out a little flat, so we had to remind ourselves to calm down, play our game and everything will be alright,” cornerback Vernon Harris ’16 said.
Wide receiver Victor Williams ’16 agreed, noting that the team’s performance has been up and down all season, despite being 4-1 in Ivy League play so far.
“It just comes down to attention to detail,” Victor Williams said. “I think it’s really exciting when you’re winning, and you’re not satisfied.”
Dartmouth’s passing attack led the way for the offense as Dalyn Williams ’16 threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns while the defense turned in one of its best performances of the season, holding the Big Red (0-8, 0-5 Ivy) scoreless for the final 56 minutes of the game.
With 62 rushing yards and another score on the ground to go with his passing prowess, Dalyn Williams set a Dartmouth record with 443 total yards, earning him his second Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors of the season.
Brown is coming off a tough defeat at the hands of Yale University, 45-42. The seesaw game saw the Bears jump out to an early 20-7 lead, but a strong comeback from the Bulldogs on the back of league-leading running back Tyler Varga, who tallied 204 yards on the ground in the game.
Brown’s offense this season has seen most of its success in the air. Junior signal caller Marcus Fuller ranks second in the Ivy League, averaging more than 270 pass yards per game. The Bears’ running game, on the other hand, ranks fifth in the league with an average of 115 yards per game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears have kept points off the board, surrendering just 22.1 points per game, which is good for second in the league. Dartmouth is third with a 22.4 points per game average.
Brown’s defensive system will challenge the offensive line with looks that players haven’t seen in the past, Dillione said.
“Brown has a good defensive front, and last year there were a few things that they got us on,” left guard Ben Spiritos ’15 said. “We just have to go out and be fundamentally sound.”
Though the Bears started the season with back-to-back losses to Georgetown University and Harvard, their recent film shows that they have become more successful, offensive coordinator Keith Clark said. He highlighted protecting the quarterback and establishing a running game, which the team has had issues with at times this season, as two key goals for the game.
“Dalyn is throwing the ball as well as any quarterback around and, if we can protect him, I think there will be plenty of opportunities to throw the ball down the field,” Clark said. “We do need to establish a balance and keep them off-kilter a little bit.”
Saturday will be the last game at Memorial Field for 27 seniors, a bittersweet experience, many players said.
Over the past four years, the team has grown back into a perennial title-contender. The switch followed a shift in attitude, Spiritos said.
This weekend, the Big Green has a chance to move one step closer to its goal and send the historic bleachers off in style.
The game will kick off at noon. Follow @TheDSports for live game updates and analysis.