ASN’s spring football 2015: Ivy League

The Ivy League doesn’t participate in the FCS tournament but it is home to the only team that went undefeated in NCAA Division I football last season — Harvard. The Crimson went 10-0, extending the nation’s longest win streak to 14 games, to capture their 16th Ivy League title and eighth under head coach Tim Murphy, the league’s coach of the year. And they’re back for more. Waiting in the wings are Dartmouth and Yale.

(Last year’s records in parentheses)

Harvard (10-0, 7-0): The Crimson lost four key starters from a defense that allowed 12.3 points per game, tops in FCS. But linebackers Jacob Lindsey and Eric Medes, Harvard’s top two tacklers last season, are back along with quarterback Scott Hosch (1,428 yards, eight touchdowns, third in league-passing efficiency) and running back Paul Stanton (990 yards, 11 touchdowns). Another threat is return specialist Andrew Fischer, who averaged 129.8 all-purpose yards per game, second in the league. Cole Toner, a first-team all-league selection, anchors the offensive line.

Dartmouth (8-2, 6-1): The Big Green return six starters on offense and nine on defense, including quarterback Dalyn Williams. He completed 67.5% of his passes for 2,119 yards and 21 touchdowns with only three interceptions, the best ratio in team history. His receivers include all-league first-teamer Ryan McManus (879 yards and eight touchdowns and Victor Williams (358 yards, three touchdowns). And with one more season for running backs Kyle Bramble (31 rec, 307 yds, 5 TD) and Brian Grove (12 rec, 117 yds), Williams will have plenty of opportunities to spread the ball around the field. Linebacker Will McNamara, a unanimous first-team all-league selection anchors the defense.

Morgan Roberts
Morgan Roberts

Yale (8-2, 5-2): The Bulldogs led the FCS in total offense in 2014 and return record-setting quarterback Morgan Roberts. The former Clemson quarterback set school records for completion percentage (.668), completions (248) and passing yards (3,220) and tied the touchdown record (22) while leading the league with 323 yards per game. But the Bulldogs also lost Tyler Varga, the league’s leading rusher, and leading receivers Deon Randall and Grant Wallace. The defense returns leading tacklers Foyesade Oluokun in the secondary and Darious Manora at linebacker. Tackle Copache Tyler anchors the line.

Princeton (5-5, 4-3): The Tigers completed their spring practices on March 21 in Japan with a 36-7 Legacy Bowl victory over the Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters. Quarterback Chad Kanoff, in a battle to replace departing starter Quinn Epperly, was named the game’s MVP after completing 15 of 20 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. James Frusciante leads the team’s returning receivers with 36 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown. Defensive ends Ty Desiré and Kurt Holuba anchor a unit that allowed an FCS-worst 341.4 passing yards per game last season.

Brown (5-5, 3-4): The Bears fielded 11 first-time starters on offense last season and struggled. They hope to benefit from the experience of seven returners this season, including quarterback Marcus Fuller, who will be a redshirt senior. In his first season as a starter in 2014, Fuller was third in the league with 2,618 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. Leading receiver Brian Strachan (668 yards, seven touchdowns) and leading rusher Andrew Coke (516 yards, five touchdowns) also return.

Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen.
Alek Torgersen

Penn (2-8, 2-5): The Quakers are back with quarterback Alek Torgersen, the league’s second-leading passer last season with 2,689 yards. He was third in FCS with 26 completions per game, and threw for 14 touchdowns. But Torgersen’s top two receivers, Spencer Kulcsar and Conner Scott, are departing. Ray Priore, who has been a part of 10 Ivy League titles during his nearly 30-year tenure Penn takes over as head coach after Al Bagnoli left for Columbia.

Cornell (1-9, 1-6): The Big Red’s big story last season was the emergence of quarterback Robert Somborn, who passed for 1,093 yards and nine touchdowns in five games with a 140.4 efficiency rating. Head coach David Archer’s team also returns all five starters on the offensive line, which will pave the way for leading rusher Luke Hagy but needs to cut down on the 33 sacks allowed last season. Hagy was third in the league with 81.6 yards per game. Leading receiver Colin Shaw (520 yards, four touchdowns) also returns.

Columbia (0-10, 0-7): Head coach Al Bagnoli, who guided Penn to nine Ivy championships and the second-highest win total in league history (112) over the past 23 seasons, takes over a program looking to end a 21-game losing streak. Returners include quarterback Trevor McDonagh (1,349 yards, eight touchdowns) and Cameron Molina (460 yards and three touchdowns rushing, 390 yards receiving.


Top: Harvard’s Scott Hosch (Gil Talbot Photography).
Above right: Yale’s Morgan Roberts (Steve Musco/Yale Athletics), Penn’s Alek Torgersen (University of Pennsylvania Athletics)