One week ago, the Yale football team was flying high after a big road-win over No. 19 Cal Poly.
Now, after a sobering 20–13 loss to the Dartmouth Big Green, the Bulldogs have fallen back to Earth.
“We didn’t control the situations today at all,” head coach Tony Reno said on Saturday. “At the end of the day we didn’t get off the field on some of the key third downs we should have.”
Yale (3–1, 1–1 Ivy) was unable to stop Dartmouth’s two-headed running attack made up of sophomore quarterback Dalyn Williams and senior running back Dominick Pierre. Williams scrambled time and time again to pick up important first downs and Pierre finished with 167 rushing yards.
The Big Green (2-3, 1-1 Ivy) dominated the time of possession battle, controlling the ball for 35:35 compared to the Bulldogs’ 24:25.
“We absolutely didn’t underestimate them, we just didn’t do our job,” captain and defensive end Beau Palin ’14 said. “We wanted to make them one-dimensional and we couldn’t today.”
That lack of focus began on Dartmouth’s opening drive, when the Big Green quickly marched down the field but missed a field goal attempt wide right. The kicking woes of the Big Green would be a recurring theme all game, forcing Dartmouth to be aggressive on fourth downs.
Neither of Yale’s drives in the first quarter were successful. After the second drive, which ended with an incomplete fourth-down pass attempt by quarterback Hank Furman ’14, Dartmouth cashed in with a 14-play drive that culminated in a one-handed touchdown grab in the end zone. The catch, which was Dartmouth’s first fourth-down conversion of the game, gave it a 6–0 lead after defensive end Dylan Drake ’14 blocked the extra point attempt.
Quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16 came in for Yale’s next possession instead of Furman, but the result was the same and the Elis were forced to punt.
A pair of penalties put Dartmouth in a big hole to start its next drive and Yale forced a punt, taking over at the Yale 46-yard line.
Furman stepped back in under center and used his arm to take the Elis inside the red zone, hitting wide receivers Deon Randall ’15 and Chris Smith ’14 on downfield passes. Smith dove for one of Furman’s passes in the end zone, but was unable to hold on, so Yale had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by placekicker Kyle Cazzetta ’15 that cut the Big Green lead to three.
A crucial sack by Darius Manora ’17 on second down put Dartmouth in a third-and-long situation on its next drive, and defensive tackle Jeff Schmittgens ’15 caught up with Williams in the backfield to end the Dartmouth drive. Yale had four sacks on the day.
The Bulldogs made use of the good field position. Yale managed to drive 45 yards in six plays, ultimately scoring on a Furman option keeper from 17 yards out.
Just before halftime, however, Furman threw an interception, returning the ball to the Big Green. Dartmouth failed to capitalize, however, as defensive back Robert Ries ’17 intercepted a desperation heave from Williams to maintain Yale’s 10–6 lead at the break.
The Elis moved the ball effectively in their first drive after halftime, and Cazzetta’s 32-yard try increased Yale’s lead to seven, 13–6.
The Big Green took a chance on its next drive, and it paid off to tie the score. On fourth-and-eight, Williams scrambled to his left and fired down field. Wide receiver Bo Patterson hauled in the 32-yard toss in the end zone to bring Dartmouth within one. After the extra point, the game was tied at 13.
“Those scrambles killed us,” Reno said of Williams’ ability to keep plays alive.
Yale’s attempt at answering back turned sour when Furman’s swing pass to tailback Tyler Varga ’15 was ruled a backwards pass. The ball was fumbled and Dartmouth recovered at the Yale 36-yard line.
Though Varga entered the game averaging 151 rushing yards per game, good for third in FCS, he finished with just 64 yards on 20 carries.
“They put more people in the box,” Reno said. “And for a variety of reasons we didn’t execute.”
When Yale got the ball back, Consecutive false start penalties doomed Yale to punt right back to Dartmouth. The Big Green responded with a fast touchdown drive that culminated with a six-yard run by Pierre as the Big Green took a 20-13 lead with 10:11 left in the game.
Yale chose to bring Roberts back in at quarterback after the score, and the ensuing drive went nowhere. Roberts finished a yard short of the first down marker on third down and the Bulldogs punted to the Dartmouth 44-yard line.
“We like to grind teams down and we like to move the ball as effectively as possible,” Furman said. “We didn’t do that today.”
The Big Green showcased their two-headed running attack and ran down the clock effectively with Williams and Pierre to set up for a field goal attempt. Dartmouth’s kicking problem again reared its ugly head, however, and placekicker Riley Lyons missed a 32-yard chip shot after a drive spanning 5:24 to keep Yale within a touchdown.
Though the Elis brought Furman back in, the switch made no difference. After two plays that went nowhere, Varga fumbled on a swing pass and Dartmouth recovered at the 23-yard line. A fourth down facemask penalty on the Yale defense gave Dartmouth enough time to run out the clock.
“Dartmouth played a great football game, but this one hurts,” Furman said.
Furman finished 15-32 for 144 yards and an interception. The Bulldogs gained only 264 yards. Dartmouth, meanwhile, was able to run a whopping 93 plays, wearing down the Yale defense.
Yale’s next game is this Saturday against Fordham. Kickoff is at noon.