For the second year in a row, the Yale football team’s unbeaten start has ended at the hands of Dartmouth, as the Bulldogs fell 38–31 after holding a lead for the entire first half.
Quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16 threw for 302 yards and a touchdown, but he also had three interceptions. Dartmouth’s traditionally run-focused offense took to the air, with Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams completing 32 of 47 passes for a season-high 388 yards and three passing touchdowns.
The game was very much a tale of two halves, with Yale dominating the first and Dartmouth fighting back in the second. Yale had the opportunity to tie the game with under a minute remaining in the final quarter, but had to turn the ball over with 46 seconds remaining after four straight incompletions.
“We weren’t able to run the ball as well as we wanted to in the second half,” head coach Tony Reno said. “We put ourselves in less than fair third down situations, and we weren’t able to convert the way we wanted to. We misfired on third down plays and had two penalties. We beat ourselves in some areas.”
Yale began the game with back-to-back sacks of Williams, forcing a three-and-out, and the Elis immediately capitalized with a score. Starting on their own 41, the Bulldogs immediately handed the ball off to halfback Tyler Varga ’15, who rumbled down the right side for 20 yards.
Running back Candler Rich ’17 converted a key third down to put the Elis in the red zone, and Roberts ran the ball from four yards out for Yale’s first score of the day.
The Big Green scored on its next possession with a 39-yard pass from Williams to wide receiver Bo Patterson in the right corner of the endzone.
Roberts’s first pass of the ensuing drive was nearly intercepted and his next attempt was tipped, but he completed a 16-yard pass to Grant Wallace ’15 on fourth-and-two to keep the team’s fourth-down conversion rate perfect on the season.
That same drive, a tipped interception in the end zone was negated by a personal foul on Dartmouth’s Stephen Dazzo. Varga powered through a scrum to take the ball to the one-yard line, and Roberts snuck the ball over the line for his second running touchdown of the day.
After Dartmouth stalled, the Bulldog offense took over at their own 20 and drove down the field. Roberts connected with Varga for an eight-yard touchdown to cap an 11 play, three minute drive and give Yale a 21–7 advantage.
A 15-yard face mask penalty on the Elis moved Dartmouth into Bulldog territory, but the defense forced the Big Green to punt. Wallace had a one-armed grab on the next possession, but two penalties on Yale forced the team back to their eight-yard line. Yale failed to convert a third-and-22, and Dartmouth’s Ryan McManus ran the ensuing punt back 60 yards for a touchdown.
Randall and Roberts connected on a 34-yard pass over the middle, but the Elis failed to get into the endzone. Kyle Cazzetta ’15 knocked in his fourth field goal of the year from 36 yards out to extend the Yale lead to 10.
Dartmouth converted two consecutive third-and-10s on its next possession, but Yale’s defense came up big on the next down: linebacker Matthew Oplinger ’18 sacked Williams for a six-yard loss and Spencer Rymiszewski ’17 intercepted the next ball and ran it back 24 yards.
Two plays later, Dartmouth’s Troy Donahue intercepted Roberts’ deep ball. He took it to Yale’s 37, but with 19 seconds left, Dartmouth closed out the half with two Hail Mary passes to no avail. At halftime, Yale was up 24-14.
Yale received the second-half kickoff but went three-and-out. A pass interference call on Dale Harris ’17 gave Dartmouth the ball on their own 40, but Foyesade Oluokun ’17 tackled Dartmouth’s Victor Williams behind the line for a five-yard loss.
Yale regained possession, and on the third play of the drive, Roberts and third-string tight end Leo Haenni ’17 connected for 25 yards down the middle. The drive ended when Dartmouth’s Vernon Harris picked off Roberts.
“Leo did a great job stepping into his role,” said Reno. “We got a lot of good guys on the team, and he made some great plays out of his opportunity.”
On Dartmouth’s ensuing possession, Rymiszewski broke up a pass in the end zone then stopped Big Green’s Kyle Bramble seven yards out from the endzone. But Williams found Bramble in the end zone two plays later to close out a 71-yard drive that narrowed the Bulldogs’ lead to a field goal.
Jamal Locke ’18 got Yale’s subsequent drive off to a hot start with a 34-yard run back. But the Bulldogs were unable to move the ball, and returned it to Big Green after gaining seven yards. Dartmouth had more success moving the chains, concluding an 83-yard drive with a 30-yard pass to McManus to take the lead. It was McManus’s second touchdown of the day.
But Yale came right back, with Varga finding the endzone from 13 yards out. The biggest play of the 84-yard drive occurred when Haenni got behind Big Green and Roberts found him down the left side for a 47-yard reception.
After two back-to-back sacks by defensive linemen Jack Rushin ’17 and Earl Chism ’18, the Elis took over at their own 24. However, a Roberts pass was tipped at the line and Dartmouth came away with its third interception of the afternoon. They brought it to Yale’s 12-yard line, but a well-timed Bulldog blitz led to Darius Manora ’17 sacking Williams for an 8-yard loss. Dartmouth kicked a 35-yard field goal, tying the game at 31 apiece with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in the game.
Yale failed to convert a third-and-10, and a false start on the punt pushed the Bulldogs back into their endzone to kick.
Dartmouth’s Brian Grove slipped on the ensuing down, but Williams and McManus connected for the twelfth time for 40 yards on third-and-12. A quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one gave Dartmouth the ball on Yale’s three. Williams then ran up the center for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs the ball with 2:20 left in the game.
On the first play of the drive, Roberts found Haenni for 16 yards. Roberts dropped the next snap, but recovered nicely and ended up gaining six yards on the ground. Roberts connected with Wallace and Clemons to set the Bulldogs up at the Dartmouth 37-yard line.
After three incompletions, the Bulldogs took a timeout with under a minute remaining, facing a vital fourth-and-10. Roberts’ pass to Randall was incomplete, and Big Green was able to take a knee with 0:46 remaining to deal the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
Yale’s next game is at the Yale Bowl against Colgate on October 18. Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m.