A Win Is a Win ... Big Green Earns Workmanlike Victory
Hanover — Ever flipped through the myriad cable television channels and come across a college football game so unappealing that you wondered who in the world chose it for national exposure?
The Dartmouth-Cornell matchup was that contest Saturday. The Big Green won the late afternoon Ivy League clash, 34-6, before an announced crowd of 3,477 and an NBC College Sports Network audience that may have numbered in the dozens by the dinner hour. Flatly put, this one was a snoozer from almost beginning to end.
Dartmouth, however, had no problems with the drudgery, given that its dominance was to blame for the yawns. The Big Green led 21-0 at halftime, at which point it had outgained the Big Red, 366 yards to 83 overall and 221-47 in the passing game.
That latter edge was a bit of a surprise, given the presence of Cornell quarterback Jeff Matthews, the Ivy League’s career passing leader and an NFL draft target. Dartmouth’s defensive pressure, combined with the Big Red’s inept rushing game (46 yards) and lousy protection, combined to beat down the righthanded rifleman. Nimble, outside rushers Eric Wickham, Zach Slafsky and Folarin Orimolade gave the visiting tackles fits.
“We mixed up our coverage schemes and so I’m not sure (Matthews) had a firm grasp of what he was seeing,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, whose team improved to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in league play. “They had to throw a lot of underneath (passes) where we got (the receivers) on the ground quickly.”
Matthews completed 16-of-32 passes for 170 yards and a late touchdown. He had one pass intercepted, was sacked four times for 32 yards and took several other jarring hits while carrying the ball.
Dartmouth’s defense “was so solid all around and they took turn making plays today,” said Cornell coach David Archer, whose 1-7, 0-5 team hosts winless Columbia next week. “A tipped pass here, a big tackle there. Later in the game, they knew the pass was coming and that made it tougher for us.”
Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams completed 16-of-24 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown while rushing 17 times for 96 yards. Kyle Bramble carried 24 times for 110 yards after relieving injured starter Dominick Pierre. The latter carried seven times for 21 yards and two touchdowns. Teevens said the senior was taken out as a precaution and will be available next week at Brown in the team’s penultimate contest.
Bramble “is almost eel-like, he’s slithery and so forth,” Teevens said of the sophomore from Indiana, who missed only one practice earlier this season after suffering a badly broken nose. “He’s not the physical guy Dom is, but he picks up yards and he’s secure with the ball.”
Bramble also caught six passes for 52 yards while Clemson transfer Robbie Anthony made six receptions for 28 yards and senior Dana Barbaro caught two passes, including one for a 30-yard touchdown. Bo Patterson also caught two passes, including one for a 25-yard score. Freshman Alex Gakenheimer, replacing sophomore Riley Lyons, gave the kicking game signs of life by booting three extra points and field goals of 26 and 21 yards.
“It was a nice win and I thought we played with some emotion,” Teevens said.
Dartmouth opened the scoring midway through the first quarter on the first of Pierre’s two, 3-yard touchdown runs. He added the second midway through the second stanza and Williams drilled a scoring strike to Patterson as time expired before halftime.
“That was a huge play,” Bramble said. “We struggled a little bit in the red zone, so going into the locker room knowing we could make plays like that was a big deal.”
Said Archer: “Having (Williams) scramble around and put that ball in there was a crushing blow.”
Gakenheimer kicked the first of his field goals with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the second with 14 minutes to play, making the score 27-0. Cornell got a Matthews touchdown pass with 10 minutes to go, but the Big Red missed the extra point. Barbaro’s touchdown catch with six minutes on the clock, plus Gakenheimer’s third conversion kick, closed the scoring.
One of the game’s more notable plays came when safety Steve Dazzo intercepted a Matthews pass with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter. During the 31-yard return, defensive end Cody Fulleton’s helmet was ripped off by an opponent, but the sophomore continued to play for roughly five seconds, absorbing a thunderous hit along the sidelines that bowled him over and created a head wound requiring four stitches to close.
“You play to the whistle,” Fulleton said with a grin. “After I got torqued to the ground, I just got up and tried to make a block for my teammate.”
Notes: The teams combined for 13 penalties for 144 yards, Dartmouth committing eight fouls for 64 yards. ... Dartmouth topped 500 yards of offense for the third time this season. … The Big Green has not committed a turnover the last two games and its 38 minutes of possession was its highest total since beating Princeton in last season’s finale. … Wickham returned from a concussion after missing the previous two games. … Javonte Brooks, the former men’s basketball captain who quit the squad after last season, saw mop-up duty at receiver. … Pierre has scored a rushing touchdown in every game this season and has 28 in his career, two more than career rushing leader and 2012 graduate Nick Schwieger. … Roger Hughes, a former Princeton head coach and Dartmouth assistant and now the head coach at Stetson (Fla.) University, guided the Hatters to their second victory overall and first in conference play Saturday. Stetson, which brought back football this season, is 2-7 and 1-5 in the Pioneer Football League.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.