Dartmouth Football: A Season in Review

Memorial Field, the home to a newly resurgent Dartmouth football team

Memorial Field, the home to a newly resurgent Dartmouth football team

The 2014 season for the Big Green football team was quite a memorable one for the alumni, students, and players. This past year, the team went 8-2 (6-1 in Ivy League play) posting the best record in 17 years and finishing second in the Ivy League standings. The success this year is the product of a gradual transition to a spread offense. Led by junior quarterback Dalyn Williams, the Big Green offense garnered 4,166 yards of total offense (averaging 416.6 yards per game) and ranked third in the Ivy League. The offense scored 313 total points (averaging 31.3 points per game) thanks to 40 touchdowns and 12 field goals. The offense was also efficient enough to convert 47% on third downs (second best in the Ivy League).

In his second year starting, Dalyn Williams matured and grew into a great quarterback for the Big Green. For the year, he passed for 2119 yards and 21 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions! He is only the second Dartmouth quarterback to throw for 20 or more touchdowns (the other was former NFL quarterback Jay Fiedler). He also rushed for 444 yards and led the team with six rushing touchdowns. Williams finished second in passing touchdowns and fifth in rushing touchdowns in the Ivy League. He also led the league in completion percentage (67.5%) and passing efficiency (157.6). Williams benefitted from an outstanding offensive cast around him including star receivers Ryan McManus (’15) and Victor Williams (’16), and running back Kyle Bramble (’16). A Minnesota native, McManus led the team in yards, catches, and touchdown catches (879 yards, 68 catches, and 8 touchdowns). In fact he led the entire Ivy League in touchdown catches and returned punts for the team averaging 10.9 per return. He even returned one for a 60-yard touchdown. McManus was named to the FCS Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team.

Victor Williams played second fiddle to McManus, gaining 358 yards on 36 catches (and 3 touchdowns), but his speed and agility certainly helped the team on multiple occasions. Williams’s maturity and knowledge will definitely fill the leadership role that will be left vacant by McManus next year. Kyle Bramble is essentially the do-it-all back. He led the team in rushing yards (652) averaging 5.2 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns. He was also third on the team in catches (31) and yards (307) and caught five touchdowns. Bramble certainly took advantage of the running lanes and screen plays provided by the wide-open spread attack.

Likewise, the Big Green defense experienced great success. Operating out of the 3-4 base (three defensive linemen and four linebackers), the defense held opponents to 21 points per game and 384.2 yards per game (241.8 passing and 142.4 rushing). The unit finished second in total defense and led the Ivy League in interceptions with 12. The defense was led by senior ball hawking safeties Troy Donahue and Stephen Dazzo, and tackling machine Will McNamara. Donahue led the team with four interceptions to go along with four pass break ups and six passes defended. Dazzo was the team captain this year. As the starting safety, he kept the rest of the unit in line and ready. He also had 23 solo tackles and a pick on the year. Junior linebacker Will McNamara was a force to be reckoned with on the defense. He led the team with 47 solo tackles and 40 assisted tackles bringing his total to 87. He also had 4 tackles for loss and nabbed two interceptions.

The team started the season on a strong note beating Central Connecticut 35-25 at home. The second week unfortunately resulted in a 52-19 loss at the University of New Hampshire. However, the team did not give up and used this loss to fuel their intensity the rest of their season. Dartmouth began Ivy League play against the University of Pennsylvania and made a statement by winning 31-13. Clearly, this team wasn’t going to back down. Quarterback Dalyn Williams had one of his best rushing days in this game as he ran for 83 yards and three scores. Dartmouth continued its journey to one of the best home field advantages in the Ivy League, the Yale Bowl.

In previous years, Yale had been a good team to beat. Despite being completely nullified in the run game by Yale, Dartmouth adjusted and found a way to torch the opponent’s secondary. Dalyn Williams set career highs in completions (32) and yards (388) and passed for three touchdowns. McManus also hauled in 12 catches for 188 yards and a score. Dartmouth pulled off a thrilling 38-31 victory on a touchdown run by Dalyn Williams with 2:20 left on the clock.

During the homecoming Holy Cross game, the team not only redeemed themselves in the rushing department, they also avenged last season’s loss that came from a last minute Holy Cross field goal. Kyle Bramble gained 115 of the team’s 196 total rushing yards. The game did end in a 24-21 win, but there was still more work to be done. Columbia University provided a good adjustment game. Quarterback Dalyn Williams sat out to rest for the upcoming Harvard game. This allowed former starter Alex Park (’15) to shake some rust off. He performed well passing for 268 yards and two touchdowns. To balance out the offense, Bramble ran for 128 yards and a score. The defense also had chance to flex their muscles and held Columbia to only seven points. This 27-7 win was Dartmouth’s last chance to prepare for Harvard.

When the time came, the Big Green held their own against the Crimson for the most part. Harvard used two quarterbacks, allowing the Dartmouth secondary to fend off the Crimson passing attack for the entire game. Harvard only passed for only 179 yards and completed only 12 passes. Unfortunately, Harvard compensated with a 180 yard rushing performance by running back Paul Stanton. Both offenses were stifled for the most part by the defenses they played. It was a low scoring affair and Dartmouth was down only 20-12 in the third quarter. There was still a legitimate chance of Dartmouth taking this game and upsetting Harvard. Unfortunately, Dalyn Williams got hurt and was out for the rest of the game. Alex Park could not lead the offense down the field. Harvard eventually sealed the win with a field goal and departed with a 23-12 victory. It was a close and heartbreaking loss. It certainly deflated the momentum from the season…for about a day.

The players played their heart out but they understood that there were still three games in the season. They were determined to win out and they did it in an outstanding fashion. The last three opponents were Cornell, Brown, and Princeton. Dartmouth won all three and scored over 40 points in each contest. Dartmouth rebounded and piled 583 yards of total offense on poor Cornell. Dalyn Williams was healthy, and he showed it with 381 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. Dartmouth dominated 42-7. Next up, against Brown, Dartmouth once again ran up the yardage to 519. Dalyn Williams put on a show with 248 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 120 yards rushing. Ryan McManus proved to be box office worthy as well. He led the team with 13 catches, 154, and caught all three of Williams’s touchdown spirals. This game was also marked by the breakout of freshman running back Ryder Stone. The native of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, took his opportunity and “ran” with it for 114 yards and three touchdowns. This insanely balanced offense overwhelmed Brown resulting in a 44-21 victory.

Then came the final game against Princeton. The Big Green ended the season on a high note putting up over 500 yards of offense for the third game in a row. Williams made this last game his best one yet. He went 30-35 setting the record for completion percentage in a single game (85.7%). He had 305 passing yards and four touchdowns and was named player of the week for the third time in the season. Receivers Ryan McManus and Bo Patterson had good games as well. McManus led the team with 10 catches and went for 96 yards and a touchdown. Patterson hauled in only 5 catches but flew for 129 yards and three scores. The Big Green defense dominated Princeton holding them to only 125 passing yards, 103 rushing yards, and a measly 10 points. Dartmouth finished this great season with a 41-10 rout.

In an interview, Coach Buddy Teevens provided insight on how the season went and expectations for next year. The main point Coach Teevens wanted to make was regarding the immense maturity of his players. “The guys are doing a good job on the field. They are doing a good job on the field and from a social standpoint. They play well together and they are one of the most cohesive teams I’ve ever coached.” He points out that after the Harvard game where the defense was gashed by the Crimson running attack, his team came together and improved. They made the necessary changes to rebuild and be a better team for the next opponent. He also notes that the great attitude of his players and the “mentorship from above and the leadership from below” will help carry his team in the future as stars like Ryan McManus and Stephen Dazzo graduate. “We will graduate good players, but we have good players who will step up.” He points out great players like Victor Williams and Kyle Bramble as just two of the many possible players to step up and take point as the leaders to rally behind. Coach Teevens has done a fabulous job with this team balancing out not only high standards of play but also the high standards of academics that Dartmouth requires of its athletes.

Though the team finished second in 2014, this team has ample opportunity to improve and be even better in 2015. Key components of the offense like quarterback Dalyn Williams, wide receiver Victor Williams, and running back Kyle Bramble are coming back. With the emergence of young talent like Ryder Stone and running back Brian Grove, this offense has the capacity to be as explosive as ever. Linebackers Will McNamara and Zach Slafsky will look to keep this defense in check while the big men up front (A.J. Zuttah, Cody Fulleton, and Folarin Orimolade) will fight to hit opposing quarterback as much as possible. The expectations are high, and this team will look to exceed them in 2015. They hope to capture their first Ivy League title since 1996 and add to the 17 they already have (the most in Ivy League history). Until then, just like everyone else, they’ll try to stay warm in this ridiculously cold weather.