With a 24-21 loss to Yale, football enters uncharted waters
In a comeback riddled with opportunity, the Big Green fell to the Bulldogs for the first time since 2016.
Although Dartmouth did not lose in overtime this week – as the team had the past two games – the Big Green’s 24-21 loss to Yale University after failing to complete a hardfought comeback was equally devastating. Now standing at 1-3 on the season and 0-2 in Ivy League play, the Big Green looks unlikely to repeat as Ivy League champion.
With Nick Howard ’23 suffering from injuries sustained during previous games, backup quarterback Dylan Cadwallader ’24 made his first career start. Spearheading an aerial attack that had been virtually nonexistent under the rush-heavy Howard, Cadwallader played well, completing 28 of his 45 pass attempts for 248 yards and two touchdowns, with the bulk of those passes going to Jonny Barrett ’23.
Cadwallader started the game looking like a veteran, completing his first five passes and then, on the Big Green’s second possession, driving all the way from the Dartmouth 34-yard line to the Yale end zone for an early score by Barrett. The biggest play of that drive would come in the form of a 36-yard completion, caught in stride by Barrett as he streaked down the middle of the field.
“[Barrett] had a crazy game, had a couple crazy catches,” wide receiver Paxton Scott ’24 said before complimenting Cadwallader’s performance. “Coming in his first game, playing away against Yale [at their] Homecoming, it’s a big moment to step into. We’ve been training all year, getting ready, preparing for that moment, so when it did happen we stepped up.”
Although Dartmouth would end the first quarter up 7-0, Yale quickly responded in the second, driving down the field with several nice passes of their own. The Bulldogs’ strong drive culminated in a five-yard rushing touchdown, tying the game at seven apiece with 9:32 remaining in the half.
Looking to reciprocate on its next possession, the Big Green put up a strong drive – highlighted by a phenomenal 30-yard Barrett diving catch – until a Q Jones ’25 fumble cut it short, giving Yale back possession of the ball at their own 1-yard line.
Despite being backed up, the Bulldogs strung together some solid plays to invade Dartmouth territory and eventually convert a 41-yard field goal. As both teams trotted back to their locker rooms to close out the first half, Yale was up 10-7.
The second half was action-packed from the start, with the Bulldogs scoring touchdowns on each of their next two drives, extending the Yale lead to 24-7.
The second touchdown almost didn’t happen, though, as Macklin Ayers ’24 intercepted a pass just as the Bulldogs were entering Dartmouth territory. Although the Big Green would seemingly possess the ball, that call was reversed after about five minutes of official review due to a penalty for targeting, allowing Yale to continue its drive and eventually punch the ball into the end zone.
Much like the Big Green’s missed opportunities in last week’s loss, Ayers said that the penalty was unfortunate, but acknowledged that penalties happen.
“It was a tough call,” Ayers said. “We just [had to] stop them on that drive, and they ended up scoring.”
That Yale touchdown would cap off a 24-0 Bulldogs scoring run, but Dartmouth’s defense would step up for the remainder of the game, holding the Bulldogs scoreless with several tackles for losses.
Overall, head coach Buddy Teevens ’79 said he was proud of the defensive effort.
“We had some good third-down, fourth-down stops to get them off the field,” Teevens said. “24 points with our offense is certainly doable.”
The Big Green could not respond on its next drive, but several minutes later a shanked Yale punt initiated a Dartmouth touchdown drive. Starting on the Yale 45, Cadwallader returned to his first-quarter form, delivering three big completions before running it in himself for a 7-yard score. With 14:56 remaining in the fourth, Dartmouth trailed 24-14.
Then, a missed opportunity struck the Big Green again. On Yale’s next offensive drive, Sean Williams ’26 picked off the ball and returned it 56 yards to the Yale 37. Nonetheless, a quick Dartmouth three-and-out and subsequent punt put that golden opportunity to waste.
“You don’t have many of [those opportunities] in the course of a game,” Teevens said, “and you’ve got to take full advantage when the opposition offers you a chance. We’ve had a bunch in the last couple of ball games.”
After strong clock management by the Bulldogs, Dartmouth finally scored again, but arguably too late. Cadwallader found Scott over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown with 1:44 remaining in the game, and an ensuing Yale three-and-out gave the Big Green the ball – and a spark – with 41 seconds left.
That flame would, however, quickly be extinguished; on first down, a Yale defender jumped in front of Cadwallader’s pass to intercept the ball and essentially end the game.
Dartmouth has now started the season 1-3 for the first time since 2011, and its next test comes at home this Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. contest against the University of New Hampshire.
Nonetheless, Teevens looks ahead with hope.
“We’re very, very pleased with [Cadwallader’s] performance — poised in the pocket, accurately throwing the football,” Teevens said.
As Howard returns this week, a combination of his rushing and Cadwallader’s passing could be dangerous, especially against a UNH defense that has let up an average of 26.8 points in their first six games.
“We’ve played a two-quarterback system in the past,” Teevens said, “and that is challenging to an opponent, preparing for two separate guys.”
Considering there have only been two seasons in which an Ivy League winner has lost two conference games — and none since 1982 — the team is surprisingly optimistic. “There’s been two times, there could be a third time,” Teevens said.
“I think there’s a lot of good things that we did yesterday,” Scott said. “We were a couple plays away from being 4-0. We have a really good group, we’re super talented. We just need to learn how to finish games.”