Football improves to 3-0 with conference-opener win at Penn

by Addison Dick | 10/7/19 2:20am

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After trouncing Colgate last week, Dartmouth football opened its conference play on the road with a 28-15 victory over Penn.

by Kyle Spencer / The Dartmouth

The Big Green football team produced a well-rounded offensive and defensive effort in its first game of Ivy League play, winning 28-15 on the road at the University of Pennsylvania.

After both teams went scoreless on their opening drives, quarterback Jared Gerbino ’20 connected with Zack Bair ’22 for a 57-yard touchdown. Fewer than four minutes later, the Big Green defense extended the lead. Linebacker Jack Traynor ’19 recovered a fumble and returned it to the end zone to give the Big Green a 14-0 lead.

“It’s important to set the tone for the rest of the game,” Gerbino said. “After those drives, Penn noticed that we were coming at them and bringing some stuff that we haven’t done this season. Once we got going, the flow of the offense really picked up.”

Penn responded in force and began the second quarter with a nine play, 75-yard touchdown drive to cut the Dartmouth lead in half. The ensuing Big Green drive was another nine play, 75-yard touchdown drive, finished with Bair’s second touchdown of the first half. 

Following the offensive success Dartmouth saw in the first few drives of the game, the defenses of the Big Green and the Quakers settled in and neither team scored for over 30 minutes.

Maintaining a 21-7 lead in the fourth quarter, the Big Green offense began a drive at its own 16-yard line. Dartmouth went on a long 15-play, 84-yard drive that spanned over eight minutes. The drive contained 13 rushing attempts, and the Big Green picked up five first downs.  With fewer than four minutes remaining in the game, Gerbino concluded the game-sealing drive with an nine-yard touchdown run.

Penn quickly found the end zone in less than two minutes and recovered the ensuing onside kick. Trailing by 13 points with two minutes to play, the Quakers were stifled by the Big Green defense, which forced a turnover on downs that concluded the contest. 

The Big Green has won its first three games of the season, and started conference play with the victory over Penn. The offense featured a balanced attack, gaining 167 yards rushing and 150 yards in the air. Gerbino led the offense with nine completions on 12 passing attempts for 119 passing yards. He also contributed 79 rushing yards. 

The offensive line, which only returned one starter from last season, allowed no sacks and has only allowed one sack through 180 minutes of game action this year.

The Dartmouth defense continued to frustrate its opponent. Despite gaining four more total yards than the Big Green with 321, the Quakers only had one red zone opportunity. The Big Green defense was particularly successful on third down plays, holding Penn to four conversions on 15 attempts.

“Sometimes things happen, but we remain calm and collected,” said linebacker Nigel Alexander ’20. “We make sure that the plays that need to be made matter. We had a few issues with Penn, missed assignments and stuff. We have to make the other team earn their yards and first downs. If they beat us, they beat us, but we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot."

Friday’s win marked Dartmouth’s fifth win in the last six games against the Quakers. Through its first three games of the season, the Big Green has yet to trail any of its opponents. 

The team will face its toughest test of the season to date next weekend when Yale University comes to Memorial Field. The homecoming showdown features the top two teams in the Ivy League preseason poll, and Buddy Teevens ’79 will look for his 100th win as head coach of the Big Green. The game kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and will be streamed on ESPN+.

“There’s going to be a lot of hype around it — we’re two top-tier teams,” Gerbino said. “It’s going to be a great game, but we need to stay focused. We’re ready to show everyone how good we are. We just need a good week of preparation, and it should be the outcome we’re looking for.”