To steal a line from the ’80s sci-fi classic The Fly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
Al Bagnoli won’t be turning into an insect any time soon, but the Penn coach should be worried about a Dartmouth team that is off to its first 2-0 start in “God knows how long,” as he put it.
Okay, it was 1997. Hanson was still mmmbopping, Biggie had just passed and Bill Clinton was back for seconds.
This is a Dartmouth team that did not win a single game in 2008 and won two contests in all of 2009. But the Big Green have somehow turned a new leaf, knocking off Bucknell 43-20 and squeezing out a win at home against Sacred Heart last week.
Dartmouth is “playing with a little bit more swagger,” Bagnoli said. He credits the maturity that comes with an older team — an area where Penn’s offense has taken a hit after nagging injuries to senior quarterback Keiffer Garton and center Joe D’Orazio. Bagnoli’s second team All-Ivy running back Lyle Marsh is out for the season and his two senior tailbacks are now on defense.
“[Dartmouth is] reaping the benefits of playing some younger kids and taking their lumps the last couple years,” he said. “We’ll have our hands full.”
Penn does have the home-field advantage, which, with a seven-and-a-half-hour bus ride separating Philadelphia from Hanover, N.H., is one of the biggest in the Ivy League.
That may be the only thing going in the Quakers’ favor. They are coming off a winnable loss to Main Line rival Villanova — which ended Penn’s winning streak just one day shy of the year mark.
“In the past we’ve suffered from a little bit of a hangover following that Villanova game,” Bagnoli said. “We’ve played very poorly that next week, especially in the first half.”
Now, 13 years since Dartmouth’s last win at Franklin Field, luck may not be on Penn’s side.
The Big Green received their first votes in the Football Championship Subdivision polling this week for the first time since ’97. Penn, meanwhile, fell out of the Top 25.
Dartmouth currently leads the conference in scoring offense with nine touchdowns in two games. Its rushing attack is also tops in the League, averaging 203 yards per game.
Much credit there goes to freshman running back Dominick Pierre, who stepped in for a flu-ridden Nick Schwieger last week. Pierre picked up 110 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns in his first collegiate start.
With Schwieger, an All-Ivy selection, now back, the Big Green will have a running attack that could give the Penn defense headaches.
Dartmouth’s defense hasn’t been spectacular, though the team hasn’t lost yet, which is all that matters. Coach Buddy Teevens described his “D” as prescribing to a “bend but don’t break mentality,” allowing yardage but tightening up before the other team can reach the endzone.
Probably one of the weirder statistics that has come from Dartmouth’s surge is that they have blocked an extra point in each of two games this year.
Penn’s steady-footed Andrew Samson is yet to miss an extra point in his 3-plus seasons — a perfect 76-for-76.
How about that for a kicker.
CALDER SILCOX is a junior science, technology and society major from Washington, D.C., and is Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is silcox@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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