Mann Tosses 4 TDs
By Jack DeGange
DARTMOUTH 31, HOLY CROSS 14
The Dartmouth marketing mavens scheduled a fan photo and autograph session after the Holy Cross-Dartmouth game at Memorial Field. Such fanfests work best in the aftermath of a win.
For the first time this season, Dartmouth cooperated. So did Holy Cross.
During the first four weeks of this season, Coach John Lyons has bemoaned the turnovers and mistakes that have plagued Dartmouth's football team. The Green had consistently shot itself in the foot. Five interceptions and seven fumbles lost contributed to four losses.
This game was far from perfect on either side of the ball but when it came to capitalizing in miscues, the ledger read "Advantage Dartmouth."
Ironically, the Crusaders (now 4-2) had used four interceptions and a fumble recovery to stifle Penn, 34-17, a week before visiting Hanover.
"We played the way Dartmouth has for the past four weeks," said HC Coach Dan Allen.
Dartmouth's defense harassed HC quarterback Erreick Stewart into a 16-34 passing effort, thanks to four sacks and ongoing pressure. In addition, his receivers were plagued with occasional dropsy.
In the first half, Dartmouth built a 28-6 lead with two short drives of 23 and 29 yards triggered by cornerback Todd Jelen's (Burnsville, Minn.) fumble recovery and linebacker Gordon Quist's (Spring, Texas) interception, plus a pair of 10-play drives that covered 65 and 68 yards.
The second drive took the air out of HC as sophomore linebacker Josh Woods (Coral Gables, Fla.) stuffed a fourth-and-one thrust at Dartmouth's 32.
Quarterback Brian Mann (Canton, Mass.) completed 17 of 23 passes for 208 yards by halftime. Four of his pitches produced TDs, a pair apiece to freshman receivers.
Scott Wedum (Fort Collins, Colo.) got the Green's first two scores, both on six-yard plays. The second came when Wedum alertly nabbed Mann's deflected pitch in the end zone.
"We haven't had many breaks this season," said Lyons of Wedum's catch. "It was nice to see that happen."
Holy Cross retaliated midway in the second period. Cornerback Vernell Shaw blocked a punt by Alex Ware (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) at the Green 25. Shaw picked up the loose ball at the 15 and scored untouched.
Then it was frosh wideout Tom Finnigan's (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) turn. He was open in the left corner of the end zone for Mann's 21-yard flip that made it 21-6 and then took an 11-yard laser shot from Mann with 1:54 left in the half.
The second half was less than artistic but the Big Green players had built sufficient distance between themselves and the struggling Crusaders.
A winless team had no business cruising - and Dartmouth didn't. After HC cut the lead to 28-14 five minutes into the final period, Dartmouth consumed 7:28 with a 76-yard, 16-play drive that ended with Todd Catlin's (Washington, D.C.) 22-yard field goal and removed all doubts.
For the day, Mann distributed 23 of 37 passes for 260 yards to nine different receivers. And, when they needed workhorse yards, the solution was tailback Aaron Pumerantz (Simsbury, Conn.) who carried 29 times for 97 yards.
In the aftermath, one of the first arrivals on field to shake Lyons's hand was President Jim Wright. Then there were smiles and busy pens as Dartmouth's players lingered near the north end zone with fans and families, savoring thoughts of a deserved win and a mid-season turnaround.
YALE 24, DARTMOUTH 14
Call it a step in the right direction. Well, better to call it a three-quarter step in the right direction.
Through three periods, Dartmouth played even with favored Yale and held a 14-10 lead before the gathering of 7,107 Ivy League enthusiasts at Memorial Field.
The Big Green scored on the first possession (the third time in four games) and again in the second period as quarterback Brian Mann (Canton, Mass.) engineered drives of 68 and 65 yards and connected with junior wideouts Damien Roomets (Sudbury, Mass.) and Matt DeLellis (Los Alamitos, Calif.) on passes of seven and eight yards.
The second score came as freshman safety Phil Frost (Westfield, Mass.) registered the Big Green's first interception of the season.
Though Yale had tied the game briefly early in the second period, the defense otherwise held its ground. Dartmouth forced Yale into a failed field goal try in the first period. Midway through the second, the Elis came up empty as linebacker Matt Mercer (Barrington, Ill.) led a charge that yielded two yards in three shots from Dartmouth's three yard line.
Dartmouth led, 14-7, and had another moral victory late in the third period when Yale moved the ball 80 yards but came away with only Mike Murawczyk's 24-yard field goal.
Ball control, an interception and a burst of lightning made the difference for Yale in the final 15 minutes.
Yale used more than seven minutes to drive 81 yards in 16 plays as the last period unfolded. The Elis got their first lead of the day on an 11-yard dart from quarterback Peter Lee, the junior transfer from Wisconsin, to Eric Johnson, a well-covered wideout.
Dartmouth seemed prepared to respond. The Green moved behind four Mann completions and runs by tailback Aaron Pumerantz (Simsbury, Conn.), who had 78 yards on 17 carries in the game.
The game turned on fourth-and-six at Yale's 26. Mann rolled out and maybe had enough open field to get a first down. But he opted to pass, and the pitch into traffic was intercepted at the Yale 14.
Then, Yale tailback Rashad Bartholomew showed why he may be the Ivy's best running back this season. On third down, he cut over right tackle and won a 79-yard race down the middle of the field with 2:35 to play, putting a dagger into Dartmouth's heart.
Until that play, the Green had held Bartholomew well below his average of 179 yards per game. That play gave him 188 yards for the day.
"That's a pretty good football team," said Yale coach Jack Siedlecki, whose team beat the Green, 44-3, last year. "They'll beat some people down the road."
Said Coach John Lyons, whose team was victimized by a fumble and three interceptions, "It's frustrating because we had an opportunity to win the game and just couldn't get it done in the second half."
Added Mann, who completed 28 of 46 passes for 285 of Dartmouth's 407 total yards (Yale had 515 net yards), "Feeling good enough about the game isn't good enough any more.
"We did a lot of positive things and we did get better this week. We put ourselves in position to win the ball game. But I don't want to be close any more. We feel like we can compete for the Ivy title."
PENN 48, DARTMOUTH 14
Nine of 10 games between Penn and Dartmouth during the past decade were relatively low scoring events decided by 11 points or less.
The first meeting of the new century was expected to be no different. But it was.
Dartmouth scored first and last before a gathering of 6,545 devotees who basked in the sun that bathed cavernous Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
In between, the Quakers had a field day built on the accurate arm of their junior quarterback, Gavin Hoffman.
The 6-6 transfer from Northwestern needed only 64 seconds to complete four passes, tying the game after Dartmouth had used a no-huddle attack to move 74 yards from the opening kickoff.
The Big Green had taken its first lead in a game this season when tailback Aaron Pumerantz (Simsbury, Conn.) won a 20-yard dash to the end zone. The nine-play drive suggested that long non-Ivy afternoons against Colgate and New Hampshire would have served their purpose of steeling Dartmouth for league play.
Hoffman had other ideas. His 35-yard pitch to wide receiver Colin Smith evened the score.
On the first play of Dartmouth's next series, QB Brian Mann (Canton, Mass.), returning from a week's layoff with a concussion, threw into a sea of blue jerseys and was intercepted at the Green 27.
A pass-run between Hoffman and Smith netted 23 yards. Then Kris Ryan, the 240-pound All-Ivy tailback, ran the last four.
Penn never looked back. The Quakers scored on their first four possessions and had a 35-7 lead at halftime as Hoffman completed 18 of 20 passes against the beleaguered Dartmouth secondary.
Hoffman added his fourth TD pass before departing in the third period. He finished with a 25-for-30 passing day that produced 336 of Penn's 533 total yards.
Dartmouth's second score came when Mann's replacement, Greg Smith (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) hit backup wide receiver Nick Murphy (Hilton Head, S.C.) on an 11-yard throw with 2:54 to play.
"We tried everything," Coach John Lyons told the writers after a long afternoon on the field where he had played for three seasons in the early 1970s. "Everything we could do, we did, and not much worked.
"I didn't think we played very well at all on either side of the ball."
If there were good things to report, the best would be the continuing solid play of junior linebacker Matt Mercer (Barrington, Ill.) who had seven tackles, including a sack, to follow a 13-tackle effort against UNH.
Smith hit six of 11 passes for 121 yards and his fourth TD pass of the season. Mann was 11-for-23 for 121 yards.
This marked the first time since 1986 that Dartmouth has allowed more than 40 points in three successive games. Fifteen years ago, it happened in four straight early season games.
If there's light at the end of the tunnel, in the 1986 season the high price of learning had its reward. After allowing 201 points in those four games, Dartmouth had a 3-1-1 record and allowed only 50 points in the next five.