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Big Green notebook: Dartmouth dominated everything in Penn rout

  • Dartmouth's Jamal Cooney celebrates a long pass reception against Penn with teammates Isaac Boston (26) and Masaki Aerts (81) during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Penn at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Steven M. Falk/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) Philadelphia Inquirer via p — Steven M. Falk

  • Dartmouth's quarterback Nick Howard jumps over Penn's Kendren Smith for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Steven M. Falk/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) Philadelphia Inquirer via ap — Steven M. Falk

  • Dartmouth's Zack Bair outruns Penn's Jaden Key for 14-yards during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Steven M. Falk/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/2/2021 9:58:31 PM
Modified: 10/2/2021 9:58:32 PM

PHILADELPHIA — Dartmouth College football made a statement to open Ivy League play.

The Big Green commanded their game against Pennsylvania in a 31-7 victory at Franklin Field on Friday night. It took Dartmouth to 3-0 to start the 2021 campaign.

Some takeaways from the game:

Overall dominance: Outside of one big play for Penn in the first quarter — a skinny post route that turned into a 73-yard gain and set up a seven-yard touchdown run on the next play — the Big Green didn’t allow the Quakers to get anything going.

Offensively, Penn only crossed the 50-yard line one more time the rest of the game after the early big gainer — and that time in Dartmouth territory was short-lived. Big Green fifth-year linebacker Tanner Cross intercepted Penn quarterback John Quinnelly right after the Quakers passed midfield.

After the two-play, 80-yard scoring drive, the Quakers picked up just 61 yards the rest of the game.

Dartmouth’s defense was in command all evening.

“We got some guys who pressure the passer,” head coach Buddy Teevens said. “We did a pretty good job against the run. And (we had) some sacks and some hurries. We had a good game plan against them, and we executed it well.”

Offensively, Dartmouth’s play was on point for much of the game. It was tied 7-7 after the first quarter, and Dartmouth’s opening touchdown was a big play on special teams — a blocked punt by senior cornerback Robert Crockett III, who recovered and scored.

But despite no offensive points in the opening period, Dartmouth’s game plan was taking shape. The Big Green aimed to control the ball and the clock and methodically chip away at the Penn defense. Dartmouth ran 17 plays to Penn’s eight in the first quarter.

That persistence paid dividends for the Big Green in the second quarter, when they put up 17 points to pull away.

Dartmouth was proficient on third down, converting on 11 of 17 opportunities. Teevens said the offense put itself in good situations on third down and set itself up for success.

“We did a real nice job not getting caught in the third-and-10s, -12s, -15s. We had one early on, and guys just chipped away at it and picked up the first,” Teevens said. “(The third-down success is) critical. It allows balance. The short, controlled pass game, the inside run, the quarterback run — it makes defending that type of multiplicity difficult.”

It wasn’t a flawless game for Dartmouth, the notable mistake being a fumble by junior quarterback Nick Howard on the goal line in the third quarter. But Penn was unable to sustain any long drives or capitalize on any opportunities they had.

Part of the reason for it, simply, was that Penn flat-out struggled. Once the Big Green pulled away in the second quarter, the Quakers had trouble regaining any footing in the game. But Dartmouth consistently put itself in positions to succeed on both sides of the ball.

Controlling the trenches: Early in the week, Teevens identified the offensive and defensive lines as areas of particular importance against Penn.

The Big Green outplayed the Quakers all over the field, but the line play spearheaded that effort on both sides. The offensive line gave fifth-year quarterback Derek Kyler ample time to work for much of the game. And it paved the way for another big day on the ground.

Dartmouth rushed for 240 yards on 50 carries. There weren’t any monster runs but a lot of four- to seven-yard gains and several 10- to 20-yard pickups. The Big Green’s longest rushing play of the game was a 21-yard scamper by Howard.

Howard was Dartmouth’s leading rusher, with 101 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Senior running back Zack Bair ran for 91 yards on 13 yards.

On defense, Dartmouth picked up two sacks and three quarterback hurries. But the defensive line influenced the game beyond the stat sheet, between blowing up plays and closing running lanes. Penn rushed for just 35 yards all game.

Cross attributed the strong overall defensive performance to clicking as a full unit.

“We were all on the same page,” he said. “That’s something that we preach throughout the week is ‘11 is one.’ That starts up front, linebackers getting the call to the up-front guys, and then them getting after the offensive line, linebackers reading off them, the defensive backs locking down the receivers. I think we were all on the same page every play tonight. We only gave up one explosive play. Other than that, we were able to stay with each other.”

Teevens was pleased with the way his team played in the trenches.

“We did a good job on both sides,” Teevens said. “(We) ran the ball for many yards, we protected the passer well and pressured their passer and limited their rushes. So I thought it was a good effort by the offensive and defensive fronts.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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