Two years ago, then-sophomore quarterback Dalyn Williams thought he had led Dartmouth to a seemingly improbable win over Penn.
The Big Green’s young star spiked the ball and pointed to the sky with four seconds left before the Quakers came up with an even more improbable blocked field goal, eventually winning in the longest game in Ivy League history.
This year, there would be no last-second block. There would be no doubt. Williams — now a senior — displayed to the Ancient Eight why the Big Green are the team to beat after a 41-20 thrashing at Franklin Field.
Going into this game, the Quakers had all the momentum and all the hype. That’s what happens when you make national headlines by beating a top-five team on the road, a Villanova squad that hadn’t lost to Penn in 104 years.
And while it would be easy to question the Quakers after this loss to Dartmouth, Saturday’s performance was more about Dartmouth winning than Penn’s performance.
To put the win in context, the Big Green had not won a game at Franklin Field since 1997. They hadn’t won consecutive games against Penn since 1996-97. And they are now off to their first 3-0 start since that same 1997 season, which was the last year — until recently — that Dartmouth truly competed for an Ivy title.
When Williams was asked whether it was especially satisfying to come full circle back to Franklin Field and win after a devastating loss two years ago, the senior thought the victory came with mixed emotions.
“You bring up the previous game, and I just remember that was a heartbreak, so definitely that hurt,” Williams said. “But being able to come back and play a good game, I would say yes to answer your question. … I think we came out, we executed, and it was very satisfying.”
To say Dartmouth executed would be a bit of an understatement. Williams threw just two incompletions the entire game, setting the Big Green’s record for completion percentage in a game at 91.6.
While Dalyn contributed 401 yards of total offense with both his arm and his legs, he wasn’t the only standout performer. Senior receiver Victor Williams reeled in 12 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Junior receiver Houston Brown also made two beautiful touchdown grabs that helped put Penn down 41-6 before the end of the third quarter.
Thanks to the sheer efficiency of Dartmouth’s offense and the little pushback by Penn’s defense, the Big Green didn’t punt a single time in the game.
Watching the Big Green's offense run a clinic in the first half may have prompted Red and Blue fans to throw toast early and then leave, although it may be more apt to blame that on inexperienced freshmen and the cold, rainy weather.
While this was the same Penn defense that held Villanova to just 13 points nine days earlier, it looked much more like the unit that was torched for 42 points by Lehigh and quarterback Nick Shafnisky in its season opener.
There will be time in the coming days and weeks to question Penn. With the Quakers’ starting QB injured and a defense that has struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks, the Red and Blue will need to find answers as they try to separate this year’s squad from last season’s disappointment. There remains a very real possibility that Penn could be on the wrong end of Columbia’s first win in over two years when the Quakers visit Kraft Field in two weeks.
But Saturday belonged only to Dartmouth. Coach Buddy Teevens was pressed after the game to answer whether this was the best game he had ever seen Dalyn Williams play. He reluctantly answered yes … so far.
And if Williams and Dartmouth can play any better than they did Saturday, the rest of the Ancient Eight won’t stand a chance.
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