Football steamrolls over Cornell
By Noah Reichblum, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, November 5, 2012
On a blustery afternoon in Ithaca, N.Y., everything went right for the Big Green in a 44-28 victory over Cornell University. The offense rushed for 330 yards, the defense forced four turnovers and Dalyn Williams ’16 performed spectacularly in his first collegiate start.
With first-string quarterback Alex Park ’14 inactive due to injury, the Big Green offense (5-3, 3-2 Ivy) capitalized on three early Big Red (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) turnovers and jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead.
“We know they are a good offensive group, and to get a turnover in a good situation [to] just deprive them of possession time and opportunities was huge,” head coach Buddy Teevens said.
Facing prolific Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews, the defending Ivy League offensive Player of the Year, the Big Green defense collected two interceptions and a fumble on the Big Red’s first three possessions despite entering the game having struggled in the turnover category. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Big Green defense had forced only one interception.
“[Mathews] is a really good quarterback in that he looks at the coverages before the snap and sees what we’re in,” safety and co-captain Garrett Waggoner ’13 said. “So we were focusing on disguising a lot of what we were in this week. They’re a phenomenal offense, and we executed the scheme well this week.”
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Dominick Pierre ’14 recorded two touchdowns in the opening quarter before Williams connected with Justin Foley ’13 on a two-yard score early in the second stanza.
Cornell cut the Big Green’s lead to 21-7 on a drive that started on the Dartmouth 34-yard line after a poor Big Green punt. Dartmouth’s offense quickly responded with its best drive of the game, a 75-yard touchdown drive with just 1:14 remaining in the first half.
On a third-and-11 from his own 24-yard line, Williams scurried for 14 yards and later found Ryan McManus ’15 on a 27-yard laser that took the Big Green to Cornell’s 22-yard line.
With seven seconds remaining in the half, Teevens left the offense on the field instead of attempting a field goal due to strong headwinds. The decision paid off, as Williams found top receiver Michael Reilly ’12 in the back of the end zone, extending the Big Green’s lead to a comfortable 28-7 heading into halftime.
“For us, just the confidence level, I think it’s devastating to an opponent when something like that happens after a big score,” Teevens said.
After Cornell shaved Dartmouth’s lead to 35-21, Williams provided his best play of the day and the final dagger of the game on a 28-yard pass to McManus in the fourth quarter. On the play, after being forced out of the pocket, Williams showed his athleticism by evading multiple Cornell defenders just long enough to shovel a pass to McManus.
“It just happened,” Williams said. “I tried to make a play, I was going down [and] I saw McManus in front of me.”
In his first collegiate start, Williams completed 14 of 20 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns while adding 96 yards on the ground on just eight carries.
Williams’ previous appearances for Dartmouth as a change-of-pace quarterback prepared him for his first collegiate start, according to Teevens.
“He’s played enough that there’s a comfort level with the team and with the coaches,” Teevens said. “He’s fun to watch.”
Williams, who out-rushed Cornell’s running back Luke Hagy, provides a dual threat that is tough to prepare for, according to Teevens.
“He’s an athletic guy, and if something breaks down, he can hurt you with his feet,” Teevens said.
Dartmouth running back Pierre continued his strong season with 160 yards on 26 carries, good for an average of 5.9 yards per rush. On defense, cornerback Chai Reece ’15 set the tone with a fumble recovery on Cornell’s first offensive series. Stephen Dazzo ’15, Miles Gay ’13 and Waggoner each added an interception later in the game.
With the victory, Dartmouth is now a perfect 4-0 on the road this year and heads into the final two weeks of the season still eligible to capture its first Ivy League title since 1996. The Big Green is currently tied for third in the standings with Princeton University. The two Ivy teams Dartmouth has lost to this season — Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania — are tied for first with 4-1 records.
“The maturity to expect to make plays and actually capitalize when we did, I was pleased,” Teevens said. “We made progress.”
The Big Green hosts Brown University next weekend before traveling to Princeton for its final game of the year.
“We were firing on all cylinders — we’re a very good ball club,” Waggoner said. “[Now], just come back to practice tomorrow, just get ready for the next week.”