While the opening didn’t follow the script, 42 unanswered points gave the Dartmouth football team a comfortable 42-7 victory at Cornell University on Saturday, keeping the team’s hopes of an Ivy League title alive.
The Big Green (6-2, 4-1 Ivy), coming off a disappointing loss to Harvard University, gave up a 48-yard touchdown to the Big Red (0-8, 0-5 Ivy) on its opening drive and threw an interception on the next drive. But Dartmouth stormed back to tie the game at seven after one quarter and cruise to victory in a second half that saw the Big Green nearly empty its bench. The Big Green tallied an impressive 583 yards of offense in the contest, its biggest total in more than 32 years, while surrendering only 308 yards to Cornell.
Quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16 led an explosive Dartmouth offense, completing 24 of 34 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns in addition to another 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“The faster they could get him to graduate, that would be great,” Cornell head coach David Archer said in a press conference after the game.
Williams’ favorite target was Victor Williams ’16 who made seven receptions for 101 yards and an impressive 32-yard touchdown grab midway through the second.
The Big Green defense stifled Cornell with an aggressive pass rush that tallied six sacks on the game in addition to an interception and forced fumble. The Big Red was held to only 7 of 17 on third down as well.
After winning the opening coin toss and electing to receive, Cornell immediately drove 75 yards for the game’s opening touchdown on a 48-yard rush by junior Luke Hagy through a huge hole on the left side.
On the fourth play of the ensuing drive, Williams was intercepted at midfield, giving Cornell great field position and the chance to open up a significant early lead.
Dalyn Williams credited the Cornell defense for opening the game with a confusing scheme that initially stalled the Big Green attack. Ultimately, he noted that the team adjusted to deal with the pressure.
“Once we were able to slide where they were coming from and pick up the blitz, they ran some pretty good coverages for us to take advantage of,” Williams said.
But the Big Green defense held Cornell inside the red zone, thanks in large part to a sack from linebacker Folarin Orimolade ’17 streaking through the backside to force a difficult 3rd and 17. The Big Red attempted a 39-yard field goal but the kick fell short after getting tipped at the line. After that, Dartmouth controlled the game.
The Big Green embarked on a nine-play scoring drive to even the game at seven, capped by a 24-yard touchdown catch for Kyle Bramble ’16 on a wheel route with the help of a block from Bo Patterson ’15 at the 10.
Bramble would finish the day as Dartmouth’s leading rusher with 89 yards on only eight carries and a touchdown in addition to four receptions for 68 yards.
Dartmouth forced a punt on the next defensive series, and the offense took over again, rolling 83 yards to the end zone. Ryan McManus ’15 grabbed a 20-yard completion on the far sideline to bring Dartmouth into the red zone. Dalyn Williams rushed nine yards into the end zone for the score.
McManus was one of six Dartmouth receivers who had multiple catches in the game.
“We did a good job of spreading the ball around,” Dalyn Williams said. “It’s fun when you’re throwing to many different receivers and the defense can’t key in on one guy. It’s extremely hard to defend.”
A Cornell three-and-out gave Dartmouth the ball again, and the offensive machine kept rolling for a third touchdown in as many drives, thanks to a reception from Victor Williams, who was wide open in the end zone after the corner bit on an early pump fake.
Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens noted the success with the long ball in the game including four touchdown passes of over 20 yards and gave a lot of the credit to the offensive line who handled an “unpredictable” Cornell scheme.
“I thought we pass protected very well,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure, and that really strains the secondary.”
In about 10 minutes of game time, Dartmouth had gone from a seven-point hole to holding a commanding 21-7 lead.
Cornell advanced to the Dartmouth 34-yard line before nickelback Frankie Hernandez ’16 came up with a huge sack unblocked from the left side for a loss of nine yards on third and three that forced another punt.
Dartmouth then drove to Cornell’s half-yard line, looking to seal the game before halftime. The Big Red stopped Brian Grove ’16 on a pitch to the right, but the team was still in trouble, as the Big Green was set to receive the second-half kickoff.
The Big Green opened the second half with two more touchdown drives, first on a 30-yard strike to McManus under tight coverage and then on a 39-yard run from Bramble untouched up the middle that built Dartmouth’s lead to 35-7 less than halfway through the third quarter.
The Big Green offense finally hit an obstacle on the next drive as Alex Gakenheimer ’17 had his 40-yard field goal attempt blocked. But cornerback Vernon Harris ’16 intercepted the second pass of the following drive on an overthrown ball to stop the Cornell drive.
Two plays later, Dartmouth tacked on its final score of the game, a 60-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Abrm McQuarters ’17 on a quick screen to the right sideline for the sophomore’s first collegiate touchdown.
The Big Green returns to Hanover for its home finale next week against Brown University. The game against the Bears (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) kicks off at 12 p.m.