Sports

Football hosts Big Green on Senior Day

The matchup showcases top Ivy talent but hopes of a conference title are dim for both sides

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, November 15, 2013

The class of 2014 will roam Brown Stadium for the last time this weekend, looking to go out with a win against a statistically powerful Dartmouth team.

The football team’s clash Saturday with Dartmouth will be more than just a regular season matchup for the 26 seniors who will take the field at Brown Stadium for the last time.

Playing in the final game on home turf against an Ancient Eight rival — and with a winning conference record on the line — the Bears (5-3, Ivy 2-3) will have plenty of motivation despite having their Ivy League title hopes doused last weekend at Yale. Head Coach Phil Estes said the gravity of playing in their final home game will keep the players focused on Dartmouth (4-4, 3-2) instead of dwelling on the disappointment of last weekend.

But Emory Polley ’14 downplayed the emotion, saying the focus is the same as always: getting a win.

“At the end of the game, it’s another game that I want to win with my guys,” he said. “It’s about making sure that I leave that field for the last time, my last game, as a winner.”

While Dartmouth is also a long shot for the Ivy title, both teams enter the game with some of the top performers in the conference.

Similar to last weekend’s matchup with Yale, the contest between the Bears and the Big Green will be a clash of titanic rushing attacks. The conference’s two leading rushers will square off — John Spooney ’14 with 116.9 yards per game and Dartmouth’s Dominick Pierre with 107.2 yards per game. The Big Green complements Pierre’s ground attack with the top rushing quarterback in the league, Dalyn Williams.

Bruno’s defensive front will have the steep task of corralling Pierre and Williams. The unit has been strong in its last two games, holding Penn and Yale to 56 and 70 rushing yards fewer than their game averages, respectively. The Bears have had mixed results against running quarterbacks — Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly shredded the defense on his way to 95 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

While the defense works to slow down Dartmouth’s run, quarterback Patrick Donnelly ’13.5 and the offense will have their work cut out for them against the best defense, statistically, in the Ivy League. Nobody in the Ancient Eight has allowed fewer points or yards than Dartmouth’s defenders.

Donnelly was impressed with the “big defensive line, strong linebackers and good secondary” that make up Darmouth’s opposition.

“They don’t have any weaknesses that jump out on film,” he added.

With a formidable running game and a top-rated defense, it is hard to believe Dartmouth has lost as many games as it has won. But the Big Green has suffered some bad luck. Three of the team’s losses have come by three points and the fourth ended in quadruple overtime.

But Bruno counters with balance. The Bears’ lineup includes the Ivy League’s third leading passer, leading rusher, fifth leading receiver and leading sacker.

Given the stakes of the game and the talent on the field, the matchup has all the elements necessary to prove a memorable showdown.

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