Sep 21, 2014 4:30 AM
Williams leads Dartmouth to victory
HANOVER - Following a slow start, the Dartmouth football team found its rhythm and the end zone Saturday night in a 35-25 season-opening win under the lights of Memorial Field against visiting Central Connecticut State.
The Blue Devils (1-3) led by 12 midway through the first half, but the Big Green (1-0) responded with a surge of offense in the final two quarters that culminated in the 10-point win to give Dartmouth a season-opening victory for the fifth straight year in the program's 133rd season of play.
Quarterback Dalyn Williams began his junior campaign under center by matching a career high with three touchdown tosses while completing 14-of-24 throws for 216 yards, plus ran for another 75 yards, including a 28-yard jaunt into the end zone. Fellow junior Kyle Bramble provided the first two Dartmouth touchdowns of the evening, hauling in Williams' first scoring strike before adding one on the ground. His 89 rushing yards on 17 carries paced the Big Green, while senior Ryan McManus led the receiving corps with a career-best 117 yards on six catches, one of which put six points on the board.
Bramble bookended the opening half his two touchdowns. A screen pass from Williams saw Bramble leap a defender inside the five to finish off the 18-yard score for the Big Green's first TD of the season just 4:06 into the quarter, capping a seven-play, 55-yard opening drive. His second score came with just over a minute remaining in the half with a two-yard run through the left side of the line to cut the deficit to five, 19-14, heading into the intermission.
Between Bramble's two scores, CCSU managed to find the endzone three times in a variety of ways. Aaron Beradino caught an 18-yard pass in the right corner midway through the first quarter, but the point after was blocked by senior Evan Chrustic, keeping Dartmouth ahead by one.
Darius Cohen and Tavion Pauldo each added one-yard TD scampers for the Blue Devils in the final minutes of each of the first two quarters, helping the visitors take a five-point lead into the intermission. After Cohen's score, CCSU had a two-point conversion thwarted, but Ed Groth was able to kick the PAT through the uprights following Pauldo's touchdown.
The Big Green offense came out firing on all cylinders in the third as Williams hooked up with senior Bo Pattersonand McManus on 20- and 19-yard TD passes to the back left corner of the end zone. Patterson hauled in his first touchdown of the year after the pass deflected off sophomore Blake Orvis' fingers on his only catch of the night to give Dartmouth a 21-19 lead.
It appeared that lead would not last long, however, as the Blue Devils drove into the red zone on their ensuing drive. Groth lined up to attempt a 32-yard field goal only to have senior Troy Donahue burst through the line and block the kick to preserve the Big Green advantage.
Dartmouth zipped right down the field, converting a pair of third-down plays, before McManus left an inch of green space between the white paint and his left foot for his scoring grab, finishing off the 77-yard drive on just eight plays spanning 2:22 of game time.
Despite already having thrown for three already, Dartmouth's quarterback took matters into his own hands -- and feet -- in the fourth, running up the left side for his 28-yard touchdown run. Williams capped the eight-play, 91-yard drive with what proved to be the longest rush of the game by either team and was the fourth straight score for the home team after CCSU took a 19-7 second-quarter lead.
A major part of the comeback was due to a strong team defensive effort. Donahue had a career-high 14 tackles to go along with his key block, and junior linebacker Zach Slafsky added a personal-best 13 stops. Senior Eric Wickham and junior A.J. Zuttah had nine and eight tackles, respectively, with each recording one for a loss.
Blue Devil quarterback Nick SanGiacomo finished the evening 23-of-41 for 260 yards and one touchdown, while his backup, Pauldo, completed all four of his passes for 52 yards and another score. Running back Rob Hollomon led CCSU with 75 rushing yards on 24 carries, six receptions and 144 all-purpose yards.
Dartmouth returns to action next week as it travels to its in-state rival, seventh-ranked New Hampshire. The Big Green and Wildcats square off at 6 p.m. in Durham inside Cowell Stadium.
Williams now has exactly 900 rushing yards in his career as he marches toward becoming the first Big Green quarterback to amass 1,000 on the ground in a career ... with his 216 passing yards, Williams moved up two spots on Dartmouth's all-time list into eighth with 2,963 yards ... Patterson's touchdown catch was the 11th of his career to move into the Big Green's all-time top 10 ... McManus had just one previous 100-yard game receiving, that against Harvard in 2012 (103) ... the last time Dartmouth blocked two kicks in one game came on Oct. 8, 2011 at Yale on a PAT and a punt ... CCSU won the battle of possession, running 88 plays in 37:38 to just 60 plays in 22:22 for the Big Green ... Dartmouth scored on each of its five entries into the red zone ... the last time the Big Green had a winning streak of at least five games on opening day was from 1960-72 for a 13-game streak of success.