Location: Campus Field, Fairfield, Conn.
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.
Series Record: Dartmouth leads 1-0
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM; online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
Hitting the Road
Riding the high of a 37-20 victory over Colgate at Memorial Field last weekend, the Dartmouth Big Green are looking to continue the success they found away from Hanover last year with a contest at Sacred Heart. The Green won four of their five road games last year, with the only loss coming in overtime to the eventual Ivy League champions, Penn.
Dartmouth squared off against the Pioneers for the first time ever last year in a thrilling 21-19 Big Green victory in Hanover. Sacred Heart had a chance to take the lead with less than a minute remaining, but its 38-yard field goal attempt was off the mark.
There will be a couple big differences in personnel in this meeting, however. Acclaimed Pioneer quarterback Dale Fink graduated last year, and running back Nick Schwieger will be playing for the Big Green this time around. After rushing for over 200 yards in last year’s season opener at Bucknell, Schwieger was forced to sit out the game against Sacred Heart with an injury. This year, the senior tri-captain opened the year with a two-touchdown, 175-yard rushing performance and is ready to go.
With Schwieger missing that game a year ago, Dominick Pierre stepped up to fill his shoes, and topped 100 yards in the second game of his freshman campaign. Last week, Pierre was a terrific complement, gaining 65 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
While the running game was firing on all cylinders, the passing game was relatively neglected. Senior Conner Kempe attempted only 15 passes, completing eight for 62 yards, and connected just once with a wide receiver, that coming on a 19-yard scoring strike to senior Tim McManus.
Head coach Buddy Teevens would like to see his defense tighten its screws a bit in week two. Five times Colgate was able to string together at least 10 plays during a drive, and on six occasions it advanced into the red zone while pushing close to 400 total yards on the day. But in bend-don’t-break mode, Dartmouth allowed just three scores to keep the Raiders at bay.
All those plays allowed several defenders to record at least 10 tackles, led by senior Joey Casey and sophomore Bronson Green with 11 apiece. The latter scored the Defensive Player of the Week award from the Ivy League as he also recovered a fumble inside the red zone. Senior Connor Phillips forced that fumble, and also recorded the only sack of the day.
Special teams provided some of the most exciting action, despite All-America return man Shawn Abuhoff not have a single attempt fielding a punt. Senior Foley Schmidt set personal bests with three field goals and 13 points. But it was a blocked field goal by Abuhoff to end the first half and preserve a six-point lead, as well as a blocked punt that immediately set up the touchdown toss to McManus, that really electrified the crowd.
Sacred Heart, meanwhile, suffered a 26-6 loss to Bryant to drop its second straight home game to start 2011. Redshirt sophomore Tim Little made his first collegiate start at quarterback, but managed to complete just 16-of-41 for 157 yards. The Pioneers are expected to put fellow redshirt sophomore Luke Wischnowski back behind center for this game as he was for the opener when he connected on 15-of-29 passes for 136 yards. Whoever is guiding the offense, they will need to find a way to improve the Pioneers’ scoring output if they want to lead the team to a homecoming victory
Breaking Through the Col-gate
Colgate has traditionally been a difficult opponent for the Big Green as the Raiders had won 18 of the first 24 meetings, including 16 of the past 18. That changed in what is the final game in the series for the time being as Dartmouth posted a convincing 37-20 victory. The other two victories against Colgate in the past 60 years were also in Hanover: 35-14 in 1995 and 26-21 in 2005.
Second Straight Win in Opener
For the first time since the 1996-97 seasons, Dartmouth has won its season opener in consecutive years. Last year, the Big Green posted a solid 43-20 triumph on the road at Bucknell before knocking off fellow Patriot League school Colgate this season. If Dartmouth can win again to start the 2012 season it would be the first three-year streak since 1976-78, which happen to be the three years head coach played for the Big Green.
Ivy Players of the Week
The Ivy League took notice of Dartmouth’s successful season opener, giving two players a conference weekly award — sophomore linebacker and senior kicker . Green took home the Defensive Player of the Week honor with 11 tackles, seven solo, and making key stops on third down twice and another on fourth down to end the game. In addition, Green pounced on a fourth-quarter fumble to help secure the outcome.
The Special Teams Player of the Week, Schmidt enjoyed a career day by drilling a personal-best three field goals and all four of his PATs. His three field goals came consecutively, giving Dartmouth a 16-7 lead by the middle of the third quarter, and his 32-yarder was sandwiched between boots from 41 yards out. His 13 points propelled him five spots up the all-time Dartmouth scoring charts into seventh with 143 points.
Schwieger Tops 2,000
Senior became just the second Dartmouth player to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards by running over Colgate in the season opener for 175 yards on just 20 carries. He finished the day with 2,015 yards, just 238 behind the all-time leader, Al Rosier ’91. Not only did he post the ninth 100-yard game of his career, Schwieger also averaged 8.75 yards per carry, a personal best. He has rushed for over 200 yards twice previously, and now he and Rosier are the only players to possess four of the top 20 single-game rushing performances at Dartmouth.
The Block Party is Back
Last year, Dartmouth special teams managed to block six kicks, which ranked among the top 10 amongst all FCS schools. In the opener against Colgate, the Big Green proved they haven’t lost their touch, blocking a short field goal attempt and a punt, both of which proved pivotal in the 37-20 victory. The Raiders were trying to cut the deficit in half before the intermission with a 26-yard field goal, but bolted around the end to reject the kick. Then late in the third quarter, Alex Shulman broke through the line to smother a Colgate punt, which immediately led to a 19-yard touchdown pass to boost the Green advantage to 16.
Kempe Connects at Home
In a weird statistical coincidence, senior quarterback did not throw a single touchdown pass at home during the 2010 season. So when he found in the back left corner of the end zone against Colgate, it ended a string of 158 passes without a score in Hanover, dating back to a 23-11 loss to Princeton to end the 2009 season.
Third Quarter Quota
Dartmouth was very much a second-half team in 2010, particularly the third quarter, scoring more points in that stanza than the entire first half (96-92). Nearly two-thirds of the team’s points last year came in the second half (172-92). That trend continued against Colgate as the Big Green put 17 points on the board in the third quarter and 24 in the second half after tallying just 13 over the first 30 minutes.