Football faces critical Harvard game
On Saturday, Dartmouth plays its most important game of the season against Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.

Saturday’s clash will be the 117th meeting between Harvard (5-1, 2-1 Ivy) and Dartmouth (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) in a rivalry that dates back to 1882. Harvard has only played Yale more in its history, and leads the series against Dartmouth 66-45-5. Head coach Buddy Teevens is 2-10-1 against Harvard, notching victories in 1988 and 1990. “We need to play team football, offense and defense,” Teevens said. “We’ve got to be in sync across the board. We need to force turnovers. We can’t give the ball away from an offensive standpoint and we need to sustain drives.” The winner of Saturday’s game will remain in the Ivy League title hunt while the loser will be effectively eliminated from the race. Since championship play began in 1956, only twice has a team with two conference losses won a share of the title. With four conference games remaining, both programs are tied for third place with one loss, trailing the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, who are tied for first and undefeated in the conference. If Princeton (5-1, 3-0 Ivy) defeats Penn (4-2, 3-0 Ivy) and Dartmouth upsets Harvard on Saturday, Princeton will likely come to Hanover undefeated in on Nov. 23, the last conference game. A Dartmouth win over Princeton would mean Dartmouth has the chance to earn a share of the Ivy championship. Since 2001, Harvard ranks fourth in all NCAA Division I programs in winning percentage with 79.8 percent, trailing just Boise State University, the University of Oklahoma and Ohio State University. In the Football Championship Subdivision, Harvard ranks first. The situation for both teams was eerily similar to last year. Harvard had entered Memorial Field coming off a shocking upset against Princeton, while Dartmouth had barely squeaked by Columbia University. Harvard went on to defeat Dartmouth 31-14. Last weekend, Harvard was ranked 23rd in the FCS national championship, but fell out of the top 25 after being stunned in a triple overtime shootout 51-48 against Princeton. Dartmouth hopes to change its recent fortunes against Harvard, which hit a low point two years ago when Dartmouth lost 41-10 while being forced to play in blizzard-like conditions. Harvard has won the last 10 meetings against Dartmouth. Dartmouth has a 12 percent chance of beating Harvard according to the Massey Rating, while the Sports Network predicts a Dartmouth upset. Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly torched Harvard’s secondary, passing for 321 yards and six touchdowns. Epperly’s performance, in addition to Princeton’s ground game totaling almost 200 yards, snapped Harvard’s 15-game home winning streak. Harvard’s offense performed very well as junior Conner Hempel threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Hempel, however, lost one fumble and threw two interceptions, which proved the difference in the close game. Hempel, who averages 277 yards per game with a 62.5 completion percentage, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, is backed up by senior Michael Pruneau, who has appeared in all six games, throwing for five touchdowns, a pick and a 70.6 completion percentage. Sophomore Paul Stanton, Jr. ran for 91 yards and two scores, including a 60-yard touchdown scamper. His two touchdowns against Princeton marked the fourth game this season where he scored multiple times. On the season, Stanton has 92 carries for 534 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading a ground attack averaging 138 yards per game and capable of pounding the opposing defense into submission. “Our offensive line’s done a great job all year,” Stanton said. “The game plan’s been great. We’ve run the ball a good amount of times and we’ve had great passing. Our offense is rolling. We just need to avoid making mistakes.” In addition to Hempel and Stanton, Harvard’s offense is stacked with talent. Senior Ricky Zorn has tallied 32 catches for 528 yards and three touchdowns. Zorn provides an excellent target for Hempel down the field, averaging almost 17 yards per catch. Dartmouth will be hard pressed to repeat last week’s performance against Columbia when the defense shut out the Lions, holding them to less than 100 yards of total offense, as linebacker Will McNamara ’16 returned two interceptions for a touchdown. If Harvard has any weakness, it is defense, which has allowed over 400 yards of offense and 28 points per game. Even then, the defense has been incredibly opportunistic, registering 20 sacks, 12 recovered fumbles, nine interceptions and scoring three touchdowns. Junior Zach Hodges and senior Nnamdi Obukwelu anchor the defensive line, notching 5.5 and 4.5 sacks respectively. Hodges has also forced three fumbles and recovered three, broken up two passes and even intercepted one pass, returning it for nine yards. His performance so far this season resulted in his addition to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list, given to the nation’s  premiere defensive standout. Junior Norman Hayes and senior D.J. Monroe lead the secondary, providing good coverage with 45 and 42 total tackles. Hayes has also registered half a sack and intercepted two passes with three breakups. Monroe registered an interception with eight breakups. “We’ve got good people on every level and up front,” head coach Tim Murphy said in an interview last week. “We’ve got some great people like Obukwelu and Zach and Hodges, and we’ve got a great secondary. Put it all together, we put a lot of pressure on offenses and a lot of pressure on offenses creates takeaways.” Harvard has been excellent in turnover margin, ranking second in the nation before the Princeton game. If Dartmouth falls behind early, there’s little reason to panic as Dalyn Williams ’16 has been a very effective starter all year, with just one exception against Bucknell. Williams’ dual-threat capability will force Harvard to stay honest, preventing it from focusing on defending the pass all game as Williams can tuck the ball and run with it. Critical to Williams’ success is running back Dominick Pierre ’14, who was hampered by injury during last year’s loss. Pierre looks to continue building off his 160-yard effort against Columbia and needs 36 more yards to break 1,000 yards from scrimmage on the season. Jon Marc Carrier ’17, named Ivy League rookie of the week for his breakout performance against Columbia last Saturday, should have an opportunity to become a playmaker and take pressure off Williams and Pierre. If Dartmouth faces a fourth-and-short deep in its territory, or any other situation that would merit a field goal, Teevens will be forced to make a decision. Either put the ball in the hands of Williams and Pierre or trust Riley Lyons ’15 to kick the field goal. Lyons is just two-of-nine this season. Saturday’s game, which is sure to be a quarterback duel, kicks off at 5 p.m.
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