HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth’s Jeremiah Douchee blocked a PAT attempt with his hip in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime, then thwarted a two-point conversion in overtime to clinch a thrilling, 27-26, home-opening victory over the visiting 25th-ranked Holy Cross Crusaders (2-2) on Saturday night at Memorial Field. Junior linebacker Jake Moen came up with the stop on the two-point pass attempt, giving the Big Green (2-0) its second victory over a ranked opponent in as many seasons and ninth straight over a non-conference team.
Senior tight end Stephen Johnston shed a tackler to turn a short gain into a 10-yard touchdown pass on Dartmouth’s possession to begin overtime, which combined with the PAT kick by senior David Smith gave the Green a seven-point lead. Although the Crusaders scored a touchdown of their own one play after converting on fourth down for the sixth time in as many attempts, the Dartmouth defense sniffed out the screen pass on the two-point attempt with Moen making the initial hit and senior Danny McManus securing the stop to preserve the win.
Holy Cross held a one-point lead at the intermission, 14-13, that held up until the final minute of the third quarter. The Crusaders muffed a punt near midfield, which was recovered by McManus at the bottom of the pile. Two plays later, senior Ryder Stone, who finished with his second career 100-yard game (17 carries, 103 yards) broke through the line and outraced the Holy Cross defense 44 yards to the end zone for a 20-14 Big Green lead. That run also pushed him past 1,000 yards on the ground for his career, the 28th Dartmouth player to do so.
The Crusader offense was on the field for more than 10 minutes in the fourth quarter and threatened to score with little more than six minutes on the clock. But when facing 4th-and-3 from the Big Green 15, Holy Cross decided to take three points, only to have Douchee get one of his paws on the kick to keep it from reaching the goalposts.
A 51-yard punt by Dartmouth sophomore Davis Brief and a fumble on the return sent the Crusaders all the way back to their own 14 with 3:46 remaining. But after two quick first downs, a 36-yard pass from Peter Pujals to Blaise Bell — one of his game-high nine catches for 119 yards — quickly flipped the field. With 13 seconds to play, Holy Cross had one last chance to reach the end zone on 4th-and-goal at the six. Pujals rolled to his left to get more time, then hit Bell in the back of the end zone for the game-tying score. But the PAT attempt was low, allowing Douchee to get his body on the ball and give the Big Green a reprieve to win the game in overtime. Dartmouth actually recovered the block and returned it the distance of the field with a few laterals, but one was ruled an illegal forward pass, negating the defensive two-point conversion.
On the first play of the second quarter, Holy Cross capped off a 12-play, 73-yard drive when Pujals first connected with Bell on a seven-yard score, tying the game at seven.
The Big Green responded three minutes later when Smith booted a career-long 42-yard field goal for a 10-7 advantage.
A Heneghan fumble at midfield set up the next Crusader score, a seven-yard scamper by Miles Alexander to put the visitors back on top. But Smith was called upon again as time expired in the half, converting a 35-yard field goal to cut the deficit to one at the intermission, 14-13.
Holy Cross outgained Dartmouth overall with 394 total yards compared to 366, but the Big Green picked up more on the ground (203 yards to 172) and while the Crusaders had more through the air (222-163).
Heneghan enjoyed the most accurate passing night of his career, hitting on 72 percent (18-of-25) of his throws for 147 yards to go with his two touchdown tosses. Sophomore Hunter Hagdorn was his favorite target, hitting on seven passes for 54 yards, while Thompson snared four throws for 42 yards and his second career touchdown, both of which have come against ranked teams.
Pujals, who entered the game average just over 300 yards through the air, completed 25-of-47 for 222 yards and two scores to Bell, but also one interception by Big Green safety Colin Boit. Diquan Walker led the Crusader ground game with 46 yards on a dozen carries.
Senior Eric Meile and junior Jack Traynor led the Dartmouth defensive effort with 11 tackles apiece with the latter collecting his first career sack. The secondary broke up no less than 11 Holy Cross passes, with nickelback Kyran McKinney-Crudden credited with three. McManus not only recovered a fumble and swatted away to throws to go with six tackles, but also averaged 17 yards on three punt returns.
Ryan Brady had 13 tackles for the Crusaders, while Nick McBeath had 11 and Ahmad Tyler contributed an even 10.
Dartmouth takes to the road next week for its Ivy League opener in a clash of undefeateds at defending conference co-champion Penn (2-0). The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network on Friday night at 7 p.m. and broadcast over the airwaves locally and over the internet on 94.5 ESPN Radio featuring Adam Giardino and Wayne Young ’72. Holy Cross hosts Lafayette in a Patriot League game next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Notes: Last year Dartmouth opened the season at Memorial field with a 22-21 victory over New Hampshire, which was ranked 22nd among FCS programs at the time … the nine-game win streak against non-conference opponents is tied for Big Green’s longest since the Ivy League started formal play in 1956 ... Heneghan has won both of his starts against ranked programs, both by a single point … the Big Green had lost three straight overtime games dating back to 2009, all of which came on the road … the last home game that went into overtime was a 20-17 Dartmouth victory over Cornell (double overtime) … Thompson’s other catch against a ranked team came last year in the win over UNH … Stone has 1,029 yards on the ground in his career, and his other 100-yard game came in his freshman year in 2014 when he picked up 114 yards against Brown … Douchee has blocked five kicks in his career.