With 41-10 victory, football grabs second in Ivy League
PRINCETON, N.J. — The Dartmouth football team needed two things to happen on Saturday to clinch a share of the Ivy League title, which would have been the program’s 18th overall and first since 1996. Dartmouth needed to defeat Princeton University in New Jersey, and Harvard University needed to fall to Yale University.
The message from coaches last week was consistent — focus on what the team could control.
And the Big Green (8-2, 6-1 Ivy) emphatically took care of its side of the bargain, cruising to a 41-10 win over the Tigers in the season finale. During the game, the players and coaches tried not to focus on the unfolding drama in Cambridge.
“We really didn’t hear much,” head coach Buddy Teevens said. “By design, I said to the staff, ‘We can’t control that. Take care of our business.’ Same with the players. We didn’t hear many announcements until late. The blood pressure spiked a bit there.”
In Cambridge, Yale (8-2, 5-2 Ivy) came close, but the Bulldogs could not hold up their end of the plan. Yale fell in a dramatic 31-24 contest to give Harvard an undefeated season and control of the Ivy League crown.
The Big Green finish the season in sole possession of second place in the Ancient Eight after tallying six wins in the Ivy League for the first time since 1997, showing that the team’s comeback may be complete from the winless 2008 season.
“To go an eight-win season and finish the way we did, I’m proud of our guys,” Teevens said. “I’m going to miss the seniors, but they’ve set us up for success in the future. It’s going to help us with recruiting. Dartmouth is now and again, a place where if you value football, it’s a good place to come.”
Players and coaches expressed pride when reflecting on the season and looking to future play.
“There are a lot of positives to take away from this, and I think we’re just going to build off of this and expect to do even bigger things next year,” quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16 said.
Dartmouth controlled the game with Princeton (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) from the opening drive, scoring on a 58-yard touchdown strike from Williams to wide receiver Bo Patterson ’15 in the fourth play of the game.
“We decided to take a shot there,” Williams said. “We had one-on-one, and we thought it was a good matchup.”
Williams ended the afternoon with 305 passing yards and four touchdowns on an impressive 30 for 35 day. He became the sixth Dartmouth signal caller ever to throw for 2,000 yards in a season and the second ever to throw 20 or more touchdowns in a season — the first was NFL veteran Jay Fiedler ’94.
“That was his best game at Dartmouth, in my opinion,” Patterson said. “He made the right reads. He put the ball on the money when he needed to. He made plays with his feet when he needed to, and that’s just vintage Dalyn Williams.”
Williams established himself as one of the Ivy League’s premier players this season, demonstrating natural athletic ability and the decision-making skills to make difficult calls in a complicated offensive system.
The Big Green relies on pass-and-run options on single plays, and Williams must make the appropriate read.
“Maturation is the key,” Teevens said. “He was a very talented guy coming in as a freshman, but he probably wasn’t as skilled at quarterback. But now he’s starting to put it all together.”
Patterson finished the game as Dartmouth’s leading receiver with three touchdowns and 129 yards on five receptions. Following up on last week’s three-touchdown performance from Ryan McManus ’15, Patterson’s day now marks the second time Dartmouth has seen a receiver catch three touchdowns in a game in the past 25 years.
The Big Green defense allowed only 228 yards of offense, surrendering only a field goal in the first quarter and a garbage-time touchdown. Dartmouth had a huge advantage in time of possession, holding the ball on offense for 37:56 compared to 22:04 for Princeton.
After working all season to come out of the gates swinging, the Big Green was effective, driving 69 yards for a touchdown after the opening kickoff. The big play came on the fourth play of the drive, when Williams found Bo Patterson ’15 streaking up the left sideline for a 58-yard touchdown that set the tone for the game.
Princeton responded with a 46-yard field goal on its next drive, but that was all the scoring that the Tigers could muster in the half.
Princeton quarterbacks, seniors Connor Michelsen and Quinn Epperly, combined to complete 22 of 40 passes for only 125 yards. The Tigers rushed for only 103 yards over the course of the game.
“A lot of their stuff relies on people biting on fakes,” defensive end Evan Chrustic ’15 said. “Our defense was taught [that] everyone has their job, and all 11 guys have to be on the same page doing their job.”
Dartmouth broke through again on its first drive of the second quarter with a methodical 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a four-yard pass from Williams to Ryan McManus ’15.
McManus had a pair of good punt returns in the half including a 30-yard return that led to a 22-yard field goal from Alex Gakenheimer ’17 as time expired to give the Big Green a 17-3 halftime lead.
“We really stress a lot of time and effort into special teams play,” Teevens said. “The return game was outstanding for us today. When you put the offense in that position, it makes the play-calling a little bit easier.”
In the second half, Dartmouth scored 24 points in a row to pull away from the Tigers.
After forcing a Princeton three-and-out to open the half, Dartmouth scored on its very first play on a 38-yard touchdown pass to Patterson.
The Big Green added to its tally on the next drive with a 29-yard field goal from Gakenheimer and had a 38-yard attempt blocked on its next drive. The onslaught continued with Williams and Patterson’s third touchdown connection of the day. Brian Grove ’16, who broke a 61-yard rush through the left side, set up the scoring play.
Ryder Stone ’18,last week’s hero, added a touchdown of his own on a six-yard rush to give Dartmouth a 41-3 advantage midway through the fourth quarter.
“You could just tell on the sidelines, everyone was all smiles,” Chrustic said. “It was a great atmosphere to finish the season, to finish off the seniors’ careers. You can’t draw it up any better than that.”
The Class of 2015 earned 25 wins over its time in Hanover, the most for a Dartmouth class since the class of 1998, who nabbed 27 victories in four years. The game also marked Teevens’s 100th career victory as a head coach.
While the Big Green may have fallen short of the Ivy League title, those around the locker room on Saturday expressed pride in the team’s performance.
“We lost to two nationally ranked teams. You can’t be too upset about that,” Patterson said, leaving the locker room after the game. “And to come out and win in such a big way at Princeton for the seniors with everything we did building the program up, everyone’s ecstatic right now.”