Football perfect half way through season with blowout win at Marist

by Devan Fink | 10/21/19 2:20am

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Following a big win last weekend over Yale, the Big Green improved to 5-0 with a victory at Marist College on Saturday.

by Natalie Dameron / The Dartmouth Staff

Another week, another big win for the Big Green. 

On Saturday, the No. 21 Dartmouth football team (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) continued its perfect season in a 49-7 rout of Marist College (1-5, 1-2 Pioneer) in Poughkeepsie, NY. This was the first-ever meeting between the two programs. 

The Big Green dominated in all facets of the game and breezed past the Red Foxes, putting the game away early. Dartmouth scored on each of its first three offensive drives, adding an interception returned for a touchdown and yet another touchdown to enter halftime with a commanding 35-0 lead. 

The first drive of the game saw the Big Green march 75 yards downfield in 13 plays to take the quick 7-0 lead. The running game got going quickly; Dartmouth rushed for 54 yards on the first drive alone and finished the day with a net 224 rushing yards, the second-highest team total this season. A four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Gerbino ’20 to tight end Connor Rempel ’20 capped off the scoring drive.

“When we score on our first or second drive, it really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Gerbino said. “When we’re firing on all cylinders, our offense just gets going.”

Dartmouth added a second score on a one-yard Caylin Parker ’20 run shortly thereafter, and quickly put the game away with an interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Jack Traynor ’19 early in the second quarter. 

“Those make a difference in terms of point totals and also just the emotional swing of a game,” said head coach Buddy Teevens ’79. “You take an offense that’s on the field for the opponent and then turn that into a score for us. It’s a blow emotionally as well.”

After not having a single interception during the first three games, the defense now has five in the last two. 

“It’s a collective effort,” Teevens said. “Pressure from the guys up front really makes the quarterback uncomfortable, makes him reset his feet and hurry his throw. Coverage on the edges with our guys breaking on the football. We have some talented safeties on the inside reacting to the ball in flight. We’ve done a pretty good job with that. There have been some errant throws caused by the defensive line that result in interceptions.”

Not even two full minutes after Traynor’s pick-six, Dartmouth scored once again. This time, quarterback Derek Kyler ’21 found wide receiver Drew Estrada ’20 for a 66-yard touchdown pass, putting the team up 28-0. Estrada often has a flair for the big play, averaging more than 20 yards per reception.

“It has to start up front with the o-line blocking, giving the quarterback time to throw the ball,” Estrada said. “All the receivers have to run the right route based on the defense. The quarterback has to throw a good ball. Derek threw a great ball, hit me in stride perfectly. It’s just cool that everyone has to do their job in order for those big plays to happen.” 

Estrada went on to finish the day with three catches for 90 yards and the touchdown, giving him 20 catches for 466 yards and six touchdowns on the season. On Saturday, Estrada also surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for his college career, becoming just the 23rd Big Green receiver to accomplish the feat.  

“It’s a nice round number,” Estrada said. “I know there are so many guys who have done it in Dartmouth football history. It’s nice to be considered in that group of guys. That was a number that kind of surprised me. I just saw the tweet [about it], so I didn’t know that I was even close, to be honest.”

Estrada also added 20 yards rushing on Saturday. He now has 689 total all-purpose yards on the season, ranking second in the Ivy League. 

“We can hurt teams in many different ways,” Estrada said. “When you have guys that can run the ball, catch the ball and throw the ball like that, it just makes it harder for the opposition to game-plan each week.”

In addition to Estrada’s versatility, Dartmouth also has relied on a triad of quarterbacks this season to create headaches for defenses. On Saturday, all three players, Gerbino, Kyler and Jake Pallotta ’20, had successful afternoons. In total, they completed 18 of 27 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns to just one interception. 

“It really shows how much trust [the coaching staff has] in not just one, not just two, but three different guys,” Gerbino said. “It speaks for itself as far as the success we’ve been having with it. It’s good that we’re all really close. We’re all really good buddies, so we feed off of each other. When one guy gets going, we all really amp it up and get each other going.”

On a 43-yard touchdown rush from Parker, Dartmouth would score once more before halftime to put the score at 35-0. The team has outscored opponents 136-10 in the first half this season, and its dominance in the first two quarters has certainly allowed the coaching staff to get more players into the game. On Saturday, every member of the team who dressed for the game saw action on the field. 

“You see some of the freshmen that have come in — we’ve traveled a number of them — and they’ve made contributions,” Teevens said. “[They’re] just learning to play with the speed and the pace and just the expectation as well. [Playing all 62 dressed players] is very, very helpful in terms of depth, development, and certainly a long-term look at the program.”

The scoring pace slowed in the second half, though the Big Green did add touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarters. Rempel caught a second touchdown pass midway through the third. He had quite the day, with three receptions, 23 yards and two scores — all season-highs — as Dartmouth went up 42-0. Running back Dakari Falconer ’21 rounded out the Big Green’s scoring on the day with a 38-yard run 11 seconds into the fourth. 

In addition to the high octane offense, a defensive shutout appeared to be in order for the majority of the game. On Marist’s final offensive possession, quarterback Matt Edwards completed all nine of his passes, including a 16-yard strike to tight end Sean Gaffney, to lead the Red Foxes to their only touchdown of the game. 

Now, Dartmouth fully turns its attention to conference play. Each of its remaining five games will be against fellow Ivy League schools, and this important stretch begins with a Friday evening matchup versus Columbia University in Hanover. Without a conference postseason, each game for the remainder of the season will carry added significance as the Big Green hopes to bring the Ivy League title back to Hanover.  

“That’s the cool thing about the Ivy League,” Gerbino said. “Every league game is pretty much a playoff game, a win-or-go-home-type of deal. We’d love to go 10-0 and have the cards in our hand.”

Still, Gerbino said he recognizes that in order to win the conference, the team is going to have to take everything one step at a time. No. 16 Princeton University (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) remains the biggest threat to Dartmouth’s title hopes. They had a big win on Saturday as well, smashing Brown University 65-22 in Providence. 

“We’re not worried about any other team,” Gerbino said. “We are worried about the team we are playing the next week. As of [Sunday], we’re going to review the Marist game and get right to Columbia. There’s a bunch of really good teams in this league. If our team plays our ball and plays the best ball we can play, I think we can go undefeated.”