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Courtesy: Mark Washburn

Football Seeks Revival at Holy Cross

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 10/12/2011
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The Game: Dartmouth (1-3) at Holy Cross (2-3)
Location: Fitton Field, Worcester, Mass.
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.
Series Record: Tied at 35-35-4
Online Video: Crusader Vision ($)
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play) and Wayne Young ’72 (analyst)
Online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live StatsComplete Game Notes

The 2011 season has not gone anywhere near according to plan for the Dartmouth Big Green. Projected as a possible contender for the Ivy League title, the team has dropped three straight games, most recently a 30-0 blanking at Yale.

This week Dartmouth gets to catch its breath a bit with a non-conference game, but against a battle-tested Holy Cross squad. The Crusaders may be just 2-3, but all three losses have been by single digits, and two came against ranked teams. Holy Cross is also 6-2 on its home field since the start of last year.

Senior Nick Schwieger, who tore up the turf for 169 rushing yards last year versus the Crusaders, became the Big Green’s all-time leading rusher last week, but gained just 39 yards on the grass at the Yale Bowl. That total ended his streak of four straight 100-yard games and was his lowest output since totaling 18 against Harvard in 2009 when he was sidelined with a broken hand.

Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens, in an effort to improve the passing game that ranks among the bottom 10 in the FCS, gave sophomore Andy Gay his first career start behind center at Yale. The change did not bolster the air attack, however, with Gay completing just 3-of-11 passes for 14 yards in the first half before Teevens returned to senior Conner Kempe after the intermission. Kempe managed 11 completions in 21 attempts for 97 yards, but the offense still could not sustain a drive. As a matter of fact, on every offensive play that started in Yale territory, Dartmouth amassed just 32 total yards.

The receiving corps, however, was stretched a little thin with senior tri-captain Tim McManus sitting out the game due to an injury. And his little brother, Ryan, who caught his first four collegiate passes, was also knocked out of the game with an injury. It is unknown whether either will be available to play at Holy Cross.

The defense, predicated on a bend-don’t-break philosophy, ending up yielding 480 yards of offense, the most for an opponent since Harvard equaled that total last season in the one loss that was by more than seven points. But 154 of those yards came on three plays, all of which resulted in touchdowns. On the other hand, Yale advanced into the red zone four times yet came away with just three points.

Once again Dartmouth disrupted the kicking game, blocking two kicks on the afternoon. One came on a PAT and the other on a punt that put the Big Green on the Bulldog 20. Dartmouth has now rejected six kicks this year, tied for the most of any FCS school.

Last year the Big Green ended a personal six-game skid against Holy Cross with a 27-19 triumph at Memorial Field. Dartmouth erased a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter by converting two field goals and forcing four turnovers, the third of which was picked off and returned for a touchdown with 48 seconds left.

In all, the Green forced six turnovers in the game, four being interceptions by Ryan Taggart. Since that day, however, Taggart has been picked off just twice while attempting more than 300 passes. A win for Dartmouth this year would give it consecutive victories in the series for the first time since 2002-03.

Schwieger All-Time Leading Rusher
Although senior Nick Schwieger saw his streak of 100-yard rushing games end at four against Yale, he did surpass Al Rosier ’91 as Dartmouth’s all-time leading rusher. Rosier had 2,252 during his stellar career, but when Schwieger bolted six yards for a first down on his last run of the first quarter against the Bulldogs, the record was his. But Schwieger’s 39 yards were his fewest since posting just 18 against Harvard in 2009 due to breaking his hand.

Campbell Trophy Semifinalist
The NFF selected Dartmouth senior linebacker Luke Hussey as one of 127 semifinalists for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the country across all levels. He is one of just four Ivy players among those listed and one of 33 from the FCS level. An engineering major, Hussey sports a stellar 3.94 GPA and is 10th in the Ivy League in tackles with 34. The NFF will select up to 16 finalists, each of which will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and vie for the Campbell Trophy to be awarded on Dec. 6.

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. This year, the Big Green have proven the blocks were no fluke as they have equaled that mark already by rejecting two kicks in three of the four contests. In the opener against Colgate, blocks on a short field goal attempt and a punt both proved pivotal in the 37-20 victory. Dartmouth then stuffed a Penn field goal and a PAT. Against Yale, it was a punt and PAT that fell victim to the Big Green special teams unit. Dartmouth is tied for the most blocks in the FCS with three schools — Drake, North Dakota and Portland State — each of which has played more games than the Green.

Kickoff Returns Doing Just Fine
Last year Dartmouth featured Shawn Abuhoff as its key return man on kickoffs and punts. Abuhoff went on to receive All-America honors as a return specialist, and the Big Green ranked 63rd in the nation in kickoff return average. This year, with Abuhoff back for his senior year, teams mostly have decided to kick away from him, and Dartmouth now ranks among the bottom three nationally for kickoff return average. The average starting point after a kickoff last year? The Big Green 34. This year? The Big Green 34. Perhaps the NCAA should come up with a better rating system than straight kickoff return average, such as kickoff return net average.

Shut Out at Yale
For the first time in nearly five years, Dartmouth suffered the ignominity of being shut out in a 30-0 loss at Yale on Oct. 8. The last team to hold the Big Green scoreless was Harvard back on Oct. 28, 2006 in a 28-0 contest at Memorial Field. The last blanking on the road? At Yale in 2005, 13-0. The offense also amassed just 178 yards, the first time it had been held under 200 since … yep, at Yale two years ago when it gained just 127 yards.

Barstein Gets a Workout
Sophomore punter Daniel Barstein was summoned to the field 12 times during the loss at Yale, and his 11 punts were a career-high and just one shy of the Dartmouth single-game record, held by Larry Margerum (coincidentally at Yale in 1979). He would have tied the record had the Big Green not pulled a fake punt during which Barstein completed a pass. The ploy worked, but then failed when the ball was fumbled away after the receiver advanced past the first-down marker. It was that kind of day …

Mini-Mac Debuts
With senior tri-captain Tim McManus sidelined with an injury at Yale, his little brother, Ryan, stepped in to make the first four catches of his career, going for a team-high 37 yards. But on the fourth grab, he took a shot to the head that forced him out of the game as well. Ryan would do well in emulating his brother, who ranks among Dartmouth’s top six all-time in receptions and receiving yardage. But the injury was taking it a bit too far ...

More on Rookie Receivers
Mini-Mac isn’t the only freshman making plays at wide receiver. Rookie Kirby Schoenthaler leads the Big Green with 10 catches and 99 yards, while classmate Bo Patterson has six catches for 76 yards as well.

Another TV Game on Tap
The first night game in the 130-year history of Dartmouth football was televised nationally by Fox College Sports (FCS), marking the 18th straight year the Big Green have had at least one game broadcast on TV. Well, Dartmouth will have an opportunity to end an 11-game television skid when it plays its second-ever night game, this time at Harvard on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. This time, the game will be shown regionally on FCS Atlantic.

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