|DARTMOUTH (1-0) at
HOLY CROSS (1-2)
|FITTON FIELD, WORCESTER, MASS.
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 • 1:05 p.m.
|Televison||Charter TV3 (Worcester)|
|Crew||Kevin Shea (play-by-play), Andy Lacombe (analyst)|
|Live Video||Patriot League Network|
|Radio||94.5 ESPN Radio (94.5 FM, 1230 and 1400 AM)
|Crew||Adam Giardino (play-by-play), Wayne Young ’72 (analyst)|
|Live Audio||Ivy League Digital Network
|All-Time Series||Tied 37-37-4|
Road Test After Big Win
After a short one-year hiatus in the series, Dartmouth renews its rivalry with Holy Cross at Fitton Field. Neither team has the overall advantage with a series record of 37-37-4 dating back to 1903, and the last five meetings were just as close with each one decided by eight points or less (the last three have been three-point games).
Last week, the Big Green passed a tough test to start the season by rallying to defeat then-No. 22 New Hampshire by a single point, 22-21. Entering the fourth quarter down by 14, Dartmouth got a field goal and two touchdowns in the final five minutes to earn the victory.
Orchestrating the game-winning scores was QB Jack Heneghan, making his first collegiate start. The junior completed 10-of-15 passes for 114 yards in the decisive final quarter, including two scoring strikes from inside the five. His performance was particularly impressive after struggling through the first three quarters with just 12 completions in 31 attempts for 115 yards, a TD and two picks. Heneghan also ran the ball 14 times for 80 yards, which for comparison’s sake was a total that three-year starter Dalyn Williams ’16 surpassed just five times.
The run game overall proved effective with the Big Green gaining 206 yards on the ground, including 90 by junior RB Ryder Stone, 64 coming on one play.
Senior WR Houston Brown stepped up as the possible go-to receiver for Dartmouth, just missing out on his first career 100-yard game with eight grabs for 99 yards and the game’s first score. The two TDs in the fourth quarter were secured by juniors Emory Thompson and Charles Mack, respectively, as both recorded their first career points.
But let us not overlook the stellar play by the Dartmouth defense. Led by senior LB Folarin Orimolade (nine tackles, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups) and junior DE Brennan Cascarano (four tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery), the Big Green were able to contain an explosive Wildcat squad to just two offensive scores and 338 total yards. The group effort helped assuage doubts about a defense that graduated 10 starters from last year’s team that allowed fewer points than any other FCS program.
Cascarano was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week in his first career varsity action. It was his second sack that secured the award for him, coming on New Hampshire’s final drive on fourth down to seal the victory.
Another big defensive play came courtesy of junior safety Colin Boit. With 7:33 to play and Dartmouth still trailing by 11, he intercepted a pass and returned it 42 yards to the UNH 44, setting up the first of the two touchdowns in the final minutes.
Now Dartmouth has an opportunity to win consecutive games in the series with Holy Cross for the first time since 2002-03. Two years ago, the Big Green withstood a Crusader fourth-quarter rally to hang on for a 24-21 triumph. Holy Cross scored 15 points in the final period to close the gap to three, but could not mount a final charge after taking over at its own eight with 1:25 to play. Williams threw TD passes to Ryan McManus ’15 and Kyle Bramble ’16, the latter of whom also ran for 113 yards for Dartmouth.
Scouting the Crusaders
Since defeating Morgan State, 51-24, in its season opener, Holy Cross has lost to New Hampshire (39-28) and Albany (45-28), both of which were ranked in the national polls when they played.
As the scores suggest, the Crusaders have a dangerous offense, ranking ninth in the country with 501 total yards per game, and third in passing at 340 on average. The player that makes it all possible is quarterback Peter Pujals, who is second nationally in passing yards and first in completions. But he is also a threat to run the ball as his 1,583 yards and 16 TDs on the ground can attest.
Starting RB Gabe Guild ran for 85 yards in the season-opening win, but left the UNH game with an injury after just five carries. Diquan Walker and Miles Alexander have tag-teamed at the position since, combining for 95 yards against Albany on 23 carries. Guild’s status for this game is not known.
But Big Green fans can expect for Holy Cross to continue its air assault with WR Richie DeNicola (29 catches, 301 yards, 3 TD) and WR Jake Wieczorek (28 for 285, 1 TD) the primary targets as they rank 2-3 in the nation in receptions per game. Don’t fall asleep on TE Lucas Nikolaisen (13 for 130, 1 TD) or any of the other four receivers with a scoring haul to their credit.
The defense has had its share of struggles, however, yielding 448 yards per game. Three of Albany’s four touchdowns in the fourth quarter were of at least 40 yards, and New Hampshire racked up 552 yards of offense against the Crusader D.
Linebacker Nick McBeath leads Holy Cross with 29 tackles, three going for a loss, while defensive ends Ryan Smith (three sacks) and Dewayne Cameron (two sacks, five TFL) provide a solid pass rush. Three DBs — Kyle Young, Ahmad Tyler and Alim Muhammad — each have an interception to their credit as well.
Holy Cross has not attempted a field goal in its first three games, but Zane Wasp has converted all 15 of his PATs. A.J. Wells handles punting duties to the tune of 36.7 yards per kick with his longest going 47.
Former Dartmouth assistant Tom Gilmore is in his 13th season at Holy Cross, having come to the Patriot League school after serving four years as the defensive coordinator at Lehigh and eight years as an assistant for the Big Green. He sports a 67-71 record entering today’s game, and in 2009 led the Crusaders to their first conference title in 18 years to advance to the FCS Playoffs and earn Patriot League and New England Coach of the Year honors. An Academic All-American at Penn, Gilmore graduated in 1986 and garnered the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Player of the Year.
End of 40-Year Drought
While the overall series between Dartmouth and New Hampshire is quite even, how they got to that point is rather lopsided. The Big Green won the first 16 games from 1901-72 before UNH broke through in 1973 with a 10-9 victory. After Dartmouth won the next game in 1976, 24-13, the Wildcats had not faltered spanning 20 games, winning 18 and tying the other two. That drought ended in the season opener when the Green nipped No. 22 UNH, 22-21, leaving the state’s namesake with a slim 19-18-2 lead overall.
Just two years ago, Dartmouth fell behind Yale on the road, 21-7, but stormed back for a 38-35 victory. Against New Hampshire, the Big Green faced the exact same deficit, except this time they only had one quarter to rally. With a field goal and two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes, Dartmouth enjoyed its largest fourth-quarter comeback since the 1999 season finale when it overcame an 18-0 deficit to beat Princeton, 19-18.
Ranked Opponent Goes Down
Dating back to the last part of the 2013 season, Dartmouth has an overall record of 21-3 over its last 24 contests, with the three losses all coming against ranked opponents. With the 22-21 win over 22nd-ranked New Hampshire on Sept. 17, the Big Green recorded its first win over a top 25 team since handing No. 19 Princeton a 28-24 defeat to end the 2013 campaign and deny the Tigers the outright Ivy title.
Gold Helmet Award
Junior QB made his first collegiate start a memorable one by leading Dartmouth to a 22-21 victory over No. 22 New Hampshire on Sept. 17. His performance in the fourth quarter, consisting of 10-of-15 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns that came in the final five minutes, rallied the Big Green from a 14-point deficit for the one-point win. For his efforts, the New England Football Writers Association bestowed upon him the weekly Gold Helmet Award as the top Division I (FBS and FCS) player in New England. He is the eighth Dartmouth player to garner the award in the past eight seasons, joining Nick Schwieger ’12 (2009, ’10, ’11), Dalyn Williams ’16 (2014, ’15), Will McNamara ’16 (2013) and Victor Williams ’16 (2015).
Ivy Defensive Player of the Week
While QB earned the Gold Helmet Award in his first career start, DE was playing his way to the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week in his first career varsity appearance. The junior from Glenview, Illinois, provided some of the biggest plays in the 22-21 win over No. 22 UNH, collecting a fumble and dropping the Wildcat quarterback for two sacks. The second of those two sacks came on fourth down in the waning seconds of the game, securing the one-point victory for the Big Green. This is the third consecutive week that a Dartmouth defender took home the honor dating back to last year.
What’s the Point
The 22-21 win over New Hampshire on Sept. 17 was the 38th time Dartmouth played in a game decided by exactly a single point, although the first one might seem strange at 1-0 over Amherst — back in 1881, touchdowns counted as a single point. Some interesting tidbits about one-point games:
• Dartmouth is 21-17 in one-point games.
• The Big Green had lost their last two one-point games, both coming against Harvard exactly 11 years apart on Oct. 30 (13-12 in 2004 and 14-13 last year).
• Dartmouth is now 2-1 against UNH in one-point games in their 39 meetings on the gridiron.
• The Big Green have had at least two one-point games against every Ivy League school, ranging from seven versus Cornell (won four) and two against Princeton (won both).
While Heneghan was throwing his first career touchdown passes and Cascarano was registering his first career sacks, juniors and caught their first career touchdowns. Sophomore RB Rashaad Cooper got the first touches of his career, running the ball three times for 15 yards and catching two passes for 15 more. Others with their first receptions were sophomore Drew Hunnicutt (3 catches, 8 yards) and freshman Hunter Hagdorn (1 for 8).
Dartmouth nearly matched its best single-game rushing total of 211 yards last year when it posted 206 against New Hampshire in the season opener. It does match the number of games the Big Green topped 200 on the ground last year. Yet Dartmouth did not have a rushing touchdown, ending a streak of 18 straight games with one. The opponent in that game? New Hampshire, making it the only team to keep the Green from taking a handoff into the end zone since the start of the 2013 campaign. This was also just the second time in the 40 years since Dartmouth last beat the Wildcats that it did not have a rushing touchdown when gaining at least 200 yards on the ground (298 vs. Brown in 1989).
Rare Two-Point Tries
During the fourth-quarter rally versus UNH, Dartmouth attempted a two-point conversion after both touchdowns, but came up empty both times. That matched the total of tries the Big Green had over the previous eight seasons combined, both of which also failed. The last successful two-point PAT came against this week’s opponent, Holy Cross, in a 41-15 loss back in 2007. The player to score that PAT? Timmy McManus ’11, the first of three brothers to play at Dartmouth; the last of those three is senior CB Danny McManus.
Coach to Cure MD
For the ninth year in a row, college football coaches around the nation will take part in Coach to Cure MD, a national charity project of the American Football Coaches Association. To show their support, members of the Crusader coaching staff will wear a Coach to Cure MD logo patch on the sidelines during the Colgate game. Coach to Cure MD will raise awareness and research funding for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most prolific genetic killer diagnosed in childhood. Football fans can donate to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by either going online to CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word ‘CURE’ to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your phone bill and standard text message rates apply). The eight-year fundraising total for Coach to Cure MD is over $1.2 million.