PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Trailing by three and facing 4th-and-inches with three seconds to play, Dartmouth decided to go for the win on the road at Penn. That decision was rewarded by quarterback Jared Gerbino, who ran straight up the middle into the end zone for the winning touchdown as time expired, giving the Big Green (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) a 16-13 victory over the host Quakers (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) in a nationally televised game on Friday night at Franklin Field.
Dartmouth had to drive 80 yards after Penn took its only lead of the night with a 27-yard field goal by Jack Soslow with 5:37 remaining. As they had done most of the evening, the Big Green methodically marched down the field, even overcoming their 11th penalty of the night after converting a 4th-and-3 play, putting them in a 1st-and-20 situation near midfield.
Gerbino, Dartmouth’s Wildcat quarterback, had the big play of the drive with a 27-yard burst on 3rd-and-4 from the Quaker 42, giving the Green a first down at the 15-yard line with 30 seconds left. A 13-yard end around by senior Emory Thompson made it 1st-and-goal from the two, but after three plays, the Big Green were still outside the end zone with a decision to make.
“I looked at our team and asked them what they thought,” said Buddy Teevens, the Robert L. Blackman Head Coach for Dartmouth. “To a man, they said that we had this and wanted to win the game right there instead of going for a field goal to send it into overtime. So that’s what we did, and we got the push up front we needed to get Jared into the end zone.”
Dartmouth racked up 414 yards with a balanced offensive attack, gaining 215 on the ground and 199 through the air as senior quarterback Jack Heneghan completed 23-of-30 passes with one touchdown and no interceptions. Gerbino led the ground game with a season-high 71 yards on 11 carries, while sophomore wide receiver Drew Estrada had nine rushes for 52 yards and senior running back Ryder Stone had 11 attempts for 50 more. Sophomore Hunter Hagdorn led all players with nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
The Penn offense, which entered the game in the top three among FCS schools in total offense (587 yards), scoring (53.5 points) and rushing (334 yards), was limited to just 243 total yards, 13 points and 85 yards on the ground. Quarterback Will Fischer Colbrie was accurate throwing the ball at 19-of-26 for 158 yards and a score, but running back Karekin Brooks managed just 47 yards on 14 carries to lead the ground attack.
The Big Green dominated play in the first quarter with their offense on the field for over 10 minutes. But it wasn’t until the second quarter that they were able to push the ball into the end zone as Heneghan connected with Hagdorn on a play-action pass from 12 yards out to complete an eight-play, 67-yard drive.
Penn managed to respond late in the opening half thanks in part to a pair of costly Dartmouth penalties. A pass interference and a facemask put the Quakers on the Dartmouth eight-yard line, and two plays later, Will Fisher-Colbrie found Justin Watson in the back of the end zone for a six-yard score, knotting the game at seven with 1:20 on the clock.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, the Big Green once again were able to move the ball effectively, reaching the Quaker 26. Penn tried to ice placekicker David Smith to no avail as the senior drilled a career-long field goal for the second straight week, this time from 43 yards for a 10-7 lead as the clock expired.
Dartmouth had a chance to extend that 10-7 lead late in the third quarter, but a 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide to the left. Penn responded by driving down to the Big Green 14 before settling for a 31-yard Soslow field goal, knotting the game at 10 with 30 seconds left in the stanza.
In the fourth quarter, the Quakers threatened to reach the end zone, and a pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-6 pass kept the drive alive at the Dartmouth 14. But the defense stopped Watson a yard short of a first down, and a false start on 4th-and-1 forced the hosts to settle for a 13-10 lead on the Soslow 27-yard field goal. Fifteen plays later, the Big Green had their victory as time expired.
Linebacker Jack Traynor led the stout Dartmouth defense with nine tackles while seniors Eric Meile and Danny McManus each had eight. The Big Green controlled the football for better than nine minutes more than Penn, running 78 plays to just 50 for the Quakers, thanks in part to converting 9-of-16 third downs and 2-of-2 fourth downs, both coming during the final drive.
Watson finished the night with six grabs for 55 yards and a pair of rushes for 26 more. On defense, linebacker Nick Miller came up with a dozen stops, and Louis Vecchio recorded the lone sack for either side.
Neither team turned the ball over, but Dartmouth’s 11 penalties were marched off for 105 yards. Penn was whistled just six times for 35 yards.
The Big Green host Yale (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) next week for homecoming. The game kicks off at 1:30 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN3 and the Ivy League Network with Bob Lipman and Ken Cail on the call. Dartmouth fans can also catch the game on 94.5 ESPN Radio over the airwaves and online at 945espn.com with Adam Giardino and Wayne Young ’72 describing the action.
Notes: This is just the second time in the last 20 seasons that Dartmouth has started a season 3-0, the other coming two years ago when the Big Green won a share of the conference crown … Dartmouth had not won a game against Penn that was decided by seven points or less since 1996 with the Quakers winning the last eight … the Big Green improved to 35-48-2 in the series with the Quakers ... with his second completion of the night, Heneghan became the ninth Dartmouth QB to throw for 3,000 yards in a career. He finished the game with 3,181 to his credit.