Sports

Big Green’s big quarter dooms football to losing Ivy mark

After grabbing early lead, Bears concede 37 straight points to fall to 2-4 in Ivy League with one game left

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 17, 2014

When the football team headed to Hanover to take on Dartmouth, its matchup pitted a team whose Ivy title dream was still alive against one whose hopes had already been shattered. When the final whistle blew, it was clear which team was which.

After a closely contested first half, the Big Green (7-2, 5-1 Ivy) pulled away with a huge third quarter, eventually blowing out the Bears (4-5, 2-4) by a 44-21 final tally.

“It was a tough one,” said linebacker and co-captain Dan Giovacchini ’15.

Bruno looked good early, leading 14-7 after the first play of the second quarter. Quarterback Marcus Fuller ’15 was 6-of-10 for 78 yards and a touchdown, and the defense forced Dartmouth into a three-and-out on its first drive before yielding a touchdown on the second.

But it was all downhill from there.

The Big Green scored the game’s next 37 points, as Bruno struggled mightily on both sides of the ball.

Fuller said Dartmouth “looked like a new team” in the second half, and noted that the Big Green came out with a different “energy.”

Dartmouth scored on its next drive after Bruno’s touchdown, moving the ball mainly through a strategy Bruno became familiar with but could not stop: rushes from quarterback Dalyn Williams. The dual threat ran four times for 43 yards and was 4-of-4 passing for 33 yards on the drive.

Williams tore Bruno up all day, rushing 18 times for 100 yards and going 25-of-33 passing for 248 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was one of three Big Green players who gave the Bears fits as Dartmouth’s offense ran wild, racking up 519 yards of total offense.

Giovacchini said the quarterback’s versatility made him difficult to contain. Though he gained 100 yards on the ground, Giovacchini noted that the vast majority of that total came when Williams could not find a receiver and ran with the ball from the pocket.

“He was able to tuck the ball and run,” Giovacchini said. “He definitely hurt us scrambling around.”

The second Dartmouth player who made trouble for the Bears was wide receiver Ryan McManus. Seemingly uncoverable, the wideout racked up 154 yards on a career-high 13 catches. He was also on the receiving end of all three of Williams’ touchdowns.

The Bears would surely have done a better job stopping McManus had it not been for the absence of stud corner Jacob Supron ’15 due to injury. His replacement, Jordan Ferguson ’17, led the team with 12 tackles, but half of those came from bringing down receivers who had already made catches. Ferguson was also beaten by McManus on the latter’s first two touchdown catches.

“They kind of went after Jordan,” Giovacchini said. But he added that Ferguson should not take the blame for Dartmouth’s success. Ferguson will be “a really solid cornerstone of this defense,” Giovacchini said.

While the results from his first significant action were mixed, it is impressive that Ferguson was called upon to fill Supron’s spot as a sophomore.

The third and arguably biggest thorn in the Bears’ side was freshman running back Ryder Stone. He entered the game with just two career carries for two yards, but when starter Kyle Bramble was injured, he entered in the second half and took over. Stone gashed Bruno for 114 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries, including a 63-yard scamper that put the cherry on top of Dartmouth’s sundae and handed it a 44-14 advantage in the fourth quarter.

Vaunted for its run-stopping ability before the game, the Bruno defense was helpless as the Big Green ran for 266 yards on just 40 carries, amounting to a staggering 6.6 yards per carry.

The defense had its issues, but it also had little help from the attack. Fuller was intercepted on Bruno’s first drive of the second half, giving Dartmouth the ball on the Bears’ nine-yard line. Of course, that resulted in a quick touchdown from Williams to McManus.

The Bears’ next three drives totaled only 10 plays, with the 10th being a sack and fumble recovered by Dartmouth at Brown’s thirty-two. The short field set up the Big Green for its third touchdown of the third quarter, which joined the first quarter against Princeton and the fourth quarter against Harvard as the ugliest periods of Bruno’s 2014 season so far. The Bears were outgained 130-66, were outscored 20-0 and committed two turnovers.

Fuller had a lackluster day, going 16-of-30 for 195 yards, a pick and a touchdown, but those numbers are far from disastrous. Unfortunately for the Bears, he left the game with an injury seconds into the fourth quarter. His replacement, Kyle Moreno ’17, was unimpressive, completing just two of six passes for 30 yards, though he did throw his first collegiate touchdown.

The quarterbacks also suffered for reasons beyond their control, as Dartmouth’s pass rush repeatedly found home. Fuller was hit hard and often, which led to his being pulled after going down particularly hard after a pass. The passers were also without weapons Reiley Higgins ’15 and Alex Jette ’17, who both sustained injuries during the game.

“You’ve got to credit their guys,” Fuller said. He added that the Dartmouth pass rush got a big boost in the second half when defensive lineman Evan Chrustic returned from a suspension for targeting.

As the Big Green blitzed Fuller play after play, the Bears were forced to turn to the rush game to keep the defense honest. But Dartmouth shut the running attack down as well, as the Bears rushed 33 times for a measly 107 yards. With a 3.2 yards per carry average, the Bears gained less than half the yardage per rush that Dartmouth did.

Bruno’s leading rusher was Johnny Pena ’17, who had never received a collegiate carry before Saturday but rushed seven times for 41 yards. Starting running back Andrew Coke ’16 ran 10 times for just 29 yards. Despite being so dynamic in previous games, Seth Rosenbauer ’16 got just two carries for five yards as he battled injuries.

With the embarrassing loss behind them, the Bears will look to redeem themselves in next week’s season finale. Fortunately, that matchup will be against Columbia (0-9, 0-6), who now sits as the conference’s lone winless team after falling Saturday to Cornell.

“All of our focus is directed at taking advantage of this last time,” Fuller said.

“It’s going to be special for the seniors,” Giovacchini said, adding that the Bears needed to “finish strong.”

Bruno’s shot to end its season and the careers of its seniors on a high note kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

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