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Green Greets Woeful Lions

Dartmouth Hopes To Turn Season Around Today

Dartmouth College quarterback Dalyn Williams is brought down by Bucknell's Evan Beyers on Saturday during the Big Green's 17-14 nonconference loss at Memorial Field. Williams entered averaging 83 yards rushing per game but was held to nine and replaced by Alex Park in the fourth quarter.
Valley News — Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College quarterback Dalyn Williams is brought down by Bucknell's Evan Beyers on Saturday during the Big Green's 17-14 nonconference loss at Memorial Field. Williams entered averaging 83 yards rushing per game but was held to nine and replaced by Alex Park in the fourth quarter. Valley News — Tris Wykes

Hanover — Given the Columbia University football team’s longstanding position in the Ivy League basement, Saturday’s arrival of the winless Lions should be perfect timing for a reeling Dartmouth College squad. The Big Green, once viewed by some as a league title contender, has instead started 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the Ancient Eight.

If Dartmouth can sweep Columbia aside, then next week’s trip to archrival Harvard will be a chance to truly reinvigorate the season. Lose to the Lions (0-5), and the Big Green might not be favored to win another game this season and coach Buddy Teevens’ second stint as coach at his alma mater will be on the verge of collapse.

“Obviously, they have not had that win that they are looking for,” Teevens said of Columbia, which has been outscored, 187-45. “They look at us after our performance (against Bucknell) and are probably saying, ‘Hey, this is the first one.’ ”

Dartmouth played with little intensity or grit in losing to the Bison, who entered last week’s game 1-4. The Big Green has shown more life in practices this week, but remains hamstrung by numerous injuries. Receiving standout Ryan McManus is out for a fourth consecutive game, position-mate Victor Williams and tight end Cole Marcoux are doubtful and linebacker Bronson Green seems likely to miss a second straight contest.

Running back Kyle Bramble was scheduled for midweek surgery on a broken nose and may or may not be available. Receiver Bo Patterson has shown real toughness in playing with an injured thumb, but it’s clear the digit is troubling him.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

“We’ve just had an awful lot of injuries,” said Teevens, who mostly prohibits preseason and practice tackling. “It’s frustrating for me because we are not doing a lot of colliding, yet there’s soft tissue, a pull, a rolled ankle, a sprain, a joint, a knee, an ankle, a hip, a back, a shoulder. You name it. We’ve had it.”

Teevens yanked quarterback Dalyn Williams during the fourth quarter last week, but reiterated that the sophomore is his starter and junior Alex Park remains the backup.

“Dalyn wasn’t doing anything wrong,” the coach said. “We needed a change of pace and Alex provided that change of pace.”

Williams, whose ability to keep broken plays alive by scrambling and to run draws has been limited by recent opponents, has rushed for 342 yards and two touchdowns and completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,085 yards and seven touchdowns while having two tosses intercepted. Running back Dominick Pierre has rumbled for 610 yards and seven touchdowns, but both he and Williams need more help from a line plagued by injuries.

“We’ve got to get off the ball with the offensive line and open up some holes,” Teevens said. “We pass protect live every single day and we were very, very poor with it (against Bucknell).”

Dartmouth’s defense is in the middle of the Ivy pack, but kicker Riley Lyons has made only 2 of 9 field goal attempts and the Big Green’s kickoff return unit is averaging a league-worst 14.7 yards. Columbia, however, could be the answer to any and all woes.

Last among Ivy teams in both total offense and defense, the Lions are floundering under second-year coach Pete Mangurian, who already has critics howling for his job. Injuries hit Columbia early and hard, with Stanford transfer quarterback Brett Nottingham lost for the season during the first game, as was defensive line standout Seyi Adebayo.

Freshman quarterback Kelly Hilinski, 6-feet-6 and 215 pounds, is a product of the Los Angeles suburbs and turned down scholarship offers from Arkansas, Colorado, UNLV and Wyoming. He’s completed just 42 percent of his passes for 260 yards and a touchdown and has had two throws picked off. Marcorus Garrett has run for 458 yards and four touchdowns. He’s one of the league’s better running backs but has rarely gotten the blocking he deserves.

Defensively, Teevens has been impressed by Columbia linebacker Vinny Pugliese, who’s second on the team in tackles and has four tackles-for-loss, one of them a sack. He’s also forced two fumbles. Meanwhile, Mangurian is doing his best to drive his program toward respectability.

“The biggest thing you can’t do is become comfortable with being unsuccessful,” the coach told Columbia’s school paper after the Lions missed 27 tackles and went 0-of-13 on third downs in last week’s loss to Pennsylvania. “And there’s been a lot of lack of success around here for a long, long time.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-737-3227.