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Defensive line plays big part of Big Green’s success this season

  • Dartmouth College defensive end T.J. Simpson (46) closes in on Princeton quarterback Kevin Davidson during Saturday's 27-10 defeat of the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. Jackson Perry (5) has the signal-caller somewhat under wraps. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College athletic director Harry Sheehy, right, greets former college president Jim Yong Kim on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The friends talked for about 10 minutes before the Big Green's 27-10 football victory over Princeton. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Reggie Williams, a former Dartmouth College football star and NFL player, waits for the Big Green to return to the field after halftime Saturday at Yankee Stadium. Williams, who was honored on the field during a stoppage in play, has endured repeated knee surgeries that have left his right leg shorter than his left. He wears a thickened shoe sole to compensate for the difference. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College tight end Jake Guidone poses with friends and family members Saturday after the No. 13 Big Green's 27-10 defeat of No. 9 Princeton at Yankee Stadium. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College football players Ross Andreasik (56) and Evan Hecimovich (61) enjoy the festive, postgame atmosphere Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The Big Green beat Princeton, 27-10, to remain unbeaten and atop the Ivy League standings. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2019 10:34:11 PM
Modified: 11/11/2019 9:43:12 PM

NEW YORK — Dartmouth College’s undefeated football team boasts a dynamite quarterback tandem, tacklers extraordinaire and an All-American in the secondary.

With respect to all of them, however, it’s the No. 11 Big Green’s defensive line that’s had the most to do with its 8-0 overall record and 5-0 mark in the Ivy League.

The point was made all the more clear during Saturday’s 27-10 defeat of defending league champion Princeton, a team that entered with a 17-game winning streak and a No. 9 national ranking.

Defensive end Niko Lalos produced a 6-0 lead during the first quarter when he fought off a cut block, leaped to intercept a pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.

He and his position mates brought a heavy rush against Princeton quarterback Kevin Davidson, who was sacked three times and had two passes picked off.

Davidson “can sling all over the place,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, whose team hosts Cornell (2-6, 1-4) and visits Brown (1-7, 0-5) to conclude its season. “He’s a pro prospect and, knowing that, we had to pressure him.”

The plan was successful, for the senior signal-caller was rarely comfortable in the pocket.

“We knew coming in that they had some big, strong guys, and they showed that throughout the game,” Davidson said. “When they only bring four, there’s not a lot of things you can get to down the field when you’re kind of feeling the heat.”

Duane Brooks, Dartmouth’s defensive line coach, oversees a starting unit often comprised of ends Lalos and Jackson Perry and tackle David Chalmers, all seniors. Reserves T.J. Simpson, Seth Simmer and Jordan McGriff all see plenty of action, and that frequent rotation of talent wears opponents down.

“We really challenged the defensive front, and I think they did a good job,” Teevens said. “We played eight or nine guys and kept rolling them through.”

Brooks rarely teaches rushing technique during practices, usually delegating that job to his fourth- and fifth-year players. There’s constant interaction between them and their younger peers regarding physical technique and mental awareness.

“Nobody wants to hear from me; I played in 1978,” Brooks joked last month. “But if your teammate tells you, that’s something different.”

Kim comes Back: Jim Yong Kim, Dartmouth’s president from 2009-12, was deeply passionate about Big Green sports, a level of interest his successor, Phil Hanlon, hasn’t matched. Kim attended Saturday’s game, walking the home sideline with his son, Nico, who’s about 10.

Kim was quarterback of his Iowa high school football team and president of the World Bank from 2012 until earlier this year. He’s now vice chairman and a partner at Global Infrastructure Partners, a New York City company that Kim’s Linkedin profile says “invests in infrastructure projects across several sectors around the world.”

Kim shared an embrace and laughter with Dartmouth athletic director Harry Sheehy, who was hired during Kim’s tenure.

He shook hands with Teevens shortly before kickoff, but didn’t stick a head into any sideline huddles, as he sometimes did when excited during games at Memorial Field.

“I still have all my Dartmouth swag,” said Kim, who wore a Dartmouth skiing jacket during an afternoon when temperatures dropped into the 30s.

One at a time: Dartmouth not only controls its own destiny in pursuit of its first unbeaten season since 1996, it gets to play the Ivies’ two worst teams to finish its schedule. The league does not permit its football teams to participate in the NCAA Football Subdivision playoffs.

On paper, the Big Green’s path to its first outright title in 23 years seems smooth. Cornell, the tougher of the two foes, has to come to Hanover, while Brown is in the first year of a compete rebuild and has lost 20 consecutive Ivy games.

It would seem the facilities crew at Brown might need all hands on deck for cleanup after a Nov. 23 title celebration. But you won’t hear anyone in green voicing such a thing.

“Our coaches always say it’s one game at a time and one snap at a time, and every down the score is 0-0,” said senior lineman Ross Andreasik, impressively cramming multiple cliches into a single sentence.

Said Teevens: “The next two ball games, you just have to finish. Our team knows what a letdown can be and we’re as good as we play, not as good as what people say.”

Notes: Former Dartmouth football standouts and NFL players Reggie Williams, Nick Lowery, Jeff Kemp and Jay Fiedler were honored on the field on Saturday during a play stoppage. Williams, who has endured numerous surgeries on a knee that at one point threatened the health of his entire leg, got around with hardly a limp. However, the sole of his right shoe appears at least eight inches thick to compensate for the shortening of his limb. … Walking about the Dartmouth sideline with a cane before kickoff was former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, father of NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. Teevens runs an annual summer passing academy with the family in Louisiana. … Princeton wore special white jerseys for the contest, along with gray pants and black-and-orange striped socks. … Sophomore running back Zack Bair, lost for the season to a knee injury during the season’s third game, was on the sidelines with his Big Green teammates, standing with crutches and wearing a large brace. Bair said he withdrew from school shortly after the injury and will undergo surgery at the end of this month. He plans to return to Dartmouth next year. … Princeton’s cheerleading squad featured two men, both of whom waved pom-poms along with their female squad members. … Dartmouth and Princeton’s “scramble bands” performed together during halftime. … The cost of parking in the garage adjacent to Yankee Stadium for the day: $45. … Each team enjoyed the use of two sideline heaters, both cranked up with a fire extinguisher alongside. … Unlike Dartmouth’s 2017 game against Brown at Fenway Park, there were no noticeable sod issues at Yankee Stadium, where the field ran from the area of home plate to deep center field. … The Big Green was housed in the Yankees locker room behind the first-base line but used plain, metal lockers brought in for the occasion. The floor was covered with a tarp. Princeton used the smaller visitors baseball locker room behind the third-base line.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




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