Dartmouth Snaps Losing Streak vs. Yale, 34-14

Beau Palin, Blake Thomson and Collin Bibb. (photo by Ron Waite, Photosportacular)

Drake, Leunen Score First Career Touchdowns

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After Yale scored touchdowns on two of its first three drives Saturday afternoon at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field, Dartmouth shut the Bulldogs down the rest of the way and came away with a 34-14 win over the Elis. The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak in the series for Yale, tied for the longest win streak in series history.

Yale (1-3, 0-2 Ivy League) was held to its lowest offensive output of the season in terms of yardage, totaling 337 yards. Senior tailback Mordecai Cargill, back from an injury that kept him out of last week's game vs. Colgate, accounted for 96 of those on 25 carries as the Bulldogs ran for 138 yards overall. But Dartmouth ran for 201 yards, including 91 from tailback Dominick Pierre before he left the game with an injury in the third quarter. Quarterback Alex Park also threw for 204 yards and a touchdown to lead the Big Green offense.

Dartmouth (3-1, 1-1 Ivy League) got to the Yale seven on its first drive of the game, but Park's toss to wide receiver Michael Reilly in the end zone fell incomplete after coverage by senior cornerback Kurt Stottlemyer forced Reilly to try a leaping catch. A 24-yard field goal by Riley Lyons put Dartmouth up, 3-0.

The Yale offense got its first big play late in the first quarter when freshman quarterback Eric Williams launched one down the sideline, where sophomore wide receiver Grant Wallace was battling a Big Green defender. Wallace was able to get a step on his man and haul in the pass for a 51-yard completion to the Dartmouth six. Three plays later, junior tight end Michael Leunen made a juggling catch in the end zone with a Dartmouth defender fighting him for the ball all the way. Leunen's first career touchdown, and the extra point from senior placekicker Philippe Panico, put Yale up 7-3 at 2:42.

Dartmouth answered by driving to the Yale five, where Pierre converted a key third-and-three to put the ball on the one. He took it over on the next play to put the Big Green ahead, 10-7, seven plays into the second quarter.

Yale's next drive featured some old-school play calling to start: 11 straight runs, including one by Cargill that converted a fourth-and-one from the Dartmouth 39. Williams later converted a fourth-and-four from the Dartmouth 31 by scrambling for 12 yards. The highlight of the drive, though, came when the Elis successfully executed a fake field goal. Senior holder Derek Russell took the snap, ran forward for a few steps and then tossed the ball to senior linebacker Dylan Drake, who was wide-open and raced into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass.

"That field goal formation was something we thought we could get on them," said Drake. "Derek threw a great pass. I had the easy part of catching it. It was exhilarating to make that touchdown catch."

A defensive holding call on Yale helped Dartmouth convert a third-and-nine on its next drive. The Big Green eventually came away with a field goal to pull within 14-13 at halftime.

After allowing 84 points in the first half of the first three games, Saturday's start marked an improvement for the Bulldog defense in that category. It was also the first time the Bulldogs led at halftime since the season-opening 24-21 win at Georgetown.

"I wish there was a magic formula," said Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "We played the way Yale football should be played -- fast, hard physical and aggressive. We didn't do anything differently."

Dartmouth re-took the lead by driving 61 yards on eight plays midway through the third quarter for a six-yard touchdown pass from Park to tight end Justin Foley. The Bulldogs' next drive ended with another attempted fake field goal, this one unsuccessful.

A personal foul penalty on Yale enabled Dartmouth to keep its next drive going deep in Yale territory. After a pair of freshmen, defensive back Cole Champion and linebacker Blake Thomson, nearly picked off a third-down pass in the end zone, the Big Green missed a field goal and the Yale offense took over at its own 20.

The Bulldogs tried a fake punt on that possession that came up incomplete, so Dartmouth took over at the Yale 38. Wildcat quarterback Greg Patton converted a fourth-and-one from the Yale 29. Four plays later, tailback Brian Grove ran the ball in from nine yards out to put Dartmouth up 27-14 with 6:15 to play.

A fourth-and-15 pass that fell incomplete ended Yale's next drive with 3:26 left, effectively ending the hopes of a Bulldog comeback. Dartmouth tacked on another touchdown on a one-yard run by Grove with 43 seconds remaining for the 34-14 final.

Williams finished with 181 yards, completing 17 of 24 passes without an interception.

"Eric continues to improve," said Reno. "Every week I'm asking him to do a little more. He continues to do it, improve on it and process it. I think you're seeing the growth of a kid who's going to be a very good quarterback."

Combined with a loss to Cornell two weeks ago, this marks the first time since 1997 Yale has dropped its first two league games.

"We're getting off to a tough start," Cargill said. "Personally, I have complete faith in my teammates and my coaches. We can turn it around. We have a never-say-die attitude."

Yale hosts Lafayette next Saturday at Noon.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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