October 8, 2011

Yale Shuts Out Dartmouth, 30-0

Bulldogs Outgain Big Green 269-55 on the Ground

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – On a day where the Yale defense limited the 2010 Ivy League co-MVP -- Dartmouth tailback Nick Schwieger -- to 39 yards on 16 carries, the Bulldogs' rushing attack stole the show behind its two tailbacks, senior Alex Thomas and junior Mordecai Cargill. That duo combined for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns, helping the Bulldogs to a 30-0 win at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field, that puts Yale at 2-0 the Ivy League.

This was Yale's second shutout of the Big Green in the last seven years, and extended the Bulldogs' winning streak against Dartmouth to nine games.

"We came into the game knowing it was going to be a battle in the trenches," said senior defensive tackle Jake Stoller. "No doubt about it, our goal was to get after the run. We're really happy with the goose egg."

The Bulldogs got a big play less than two minutes in, when Thomas turned a simple counter play into a 74-yard touchdown run, bursting through the line and taking it down the left sideline for the score. Junior placekicker Philippe Panico's extra point made it 7-0 Yale at 13:48.

"I actually had the wrong footwork on that play [after taking the handoff]," Thomas said. "There was one tackle I had to break, and after that it was just running away from guys."

Yale's next drive ended with a fake field goal that was brought down seven yards shy of a first down. But the Bulldog defense came up with two straight tackles for loss -- one by junior defensive end Allen Davis and junior cornerback Kurt Stottlemyer, the other by junior linebacker Will McHale -- and the Big Green offense went three-and-out.

Two plays into the next Yale drive the Bulldogs got another big run. This one was a 40-yarder by Cargill, who spun off one tackle and broke through another before sprinting into the end zone. The extra point was blocked but Yale still led, 13-0.

The quick start was exactly what Yale (3-1, 2-0 Ivy League) was looking for after suffering its first loss of the season last Saturday at No. 13 Lehigh.

"We felt like [the loss] was an aberration, an anomaly, and our guys knew that," said Tom Williams, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "The best response we got [after the game] was in the locker room -- no-one was panicking."

Dartmouth was looking to get good field position after stopping the Yale offense at the Bulldogs' 10-yard line early in the second quarter. But freshman punter Kyle Cazzetta boomed a 53-yarder, and freshman defensive back Nick LaTesta tackled Big Green return man Shawn Abuhoff for a two-yard loss.

The Yale defense then forced another three-and-out, but on the first play of the next drive disaster nearly struck for the Elis. Senior quarterback Patrick Witt's pass was intercepted -- but then fumbled right back to the Bulldogs on the return. Sophomore center John Oppenheimer fell on the ball at the Yale 47.

Yale was unable to get past the Dartmouth 41 on that drive, but after a Bulldog punt Stoller came up with a big play on first down. He sacked Big Green quarterback Andy Gay, and when Gay lost the football in the process Stoller nearly recovered it in the end zone. As it was, Dartmouth recovered at its own one-yard line and eventually punted from its three.

The Yale offense started its final drive of the first half at the Dartmouth 25 with 1:17 to play, eventually settling for a 39-yard field goal by Panico that made it 16-0 heading into halftime.

The Bulldogs held a 266-51 edge in total offense at that point. But with Yale placing a heavy emphasis on winning the third quarter in particular this season, that advantage was not enough to satisfy the Blue.

"We talked about starting fast and finishing faster," Williams said. "We wanted to make it a violent track meet."

The second half started out as well as Yale could have asked for. After the defense forced another three-and-out, senior wide receiver Gio Christodoulou gathered in the punt at the Yale 47 and went untouched into the end zone to expand the Bulldog lead to 23-0. It was Christodoulou's third career punt return for a touchdown, and by the end of the day he was all alone atop Yale's career punt return average list, surpassing Todd Tomich '01's record of 788.

Dartmouth was without receiver Tim McManus, who was tied for the team lead in receptions entering the day. Looking for a spark in its passing game the Big Green made a change at quarterback in the third quarter, bringing in Conner Kempe (who had started the first three games of the season) in relief of Gay (3-for-11, 14 yards). On the second Big Green drive Dartmouth tried a fake punt on fourth-and-five from the Yale 47, but just as the ball carrier got far enough for the first down a fumble once again proved costly. Senior cornerback Drew Baldwin pounced on this one to end the drive.

A partially blocked punt by the Bulldogs gave Dartmouth a golden chance to get on the scoreboard, starting the Big Green off at the Yale 20. But on fourth-and-two from the Yale 12, senior linebacker Wes Moyer got a piece of Kempe's pass and it fell incomplete. The Bulldogs then put the game well out of reach with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Witt to junior wide receiver Chris Smith on the first play of the fourth quarter. Witt finished the day 21 of 29 for 203 yards and one TD.

Schwieger, who passed Al Rosier as Dartmouth's all-time leading rusher during the course of the game, had been averaging 133.3 yards per game (sixth in the nation) but finished at 39 against the Bulldogs. Thomas finished the day with 130 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries, while Cargill had 83 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries.

"Our offensive line is a great unit," Thomas said. "It's the best line we've had since I've been here, and they keep getting better. They make holes for Mo [Cargill] and I and they just make our job easier."

With Harvard's 41-31 win at Cornell Saturday, the Bulldogs and the Crimson are the only 2-0 teams in the league. Yale has now won 10 of its last 14 games dating back to the start of the season, and has won its last five at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field.

 "As good as we were today, we felt we left some meat on the bone," Williams said. "We're chasing perfection."

Watch the game on demand at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/yale.portal

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

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