PRINCETON, N.J. — The Princeton Tigers scored four consecutive touchdowns in the second half to beat the visiting Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday afternoon, 38-21, giving Princeton (8-2, 6-1 Ivy) a share of the Ivy League title. John Lovett broke a Tiger record by rushing for his 19th and 20th touchdowns of the year, while Charlie Volker ran for another score and 111 yards to lead Princeton to its first victory over the Big Green in seven years.
Dartmouth (4-6, 1-6 Ivy) suffered its first losing season since the last time it was beaten by Princeton in 2009. Junior quarterback Jack Heneghan posted his fourth 300-yard passing game of the season, completing 30-of-46 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown. But two interceptions and a fumbled kickoff — all in the fourth quarter — derailed any Big Green hopes of staging a comeback.
The way the game began, Dartmouth looked like it might pull off the upset on the road. The Big Green defense quickly snuffed out Princeton’s first drive, and senior Charlie Miller returned the punt 23 yards just past midfield. Seven plays later, Heneghan scrambled 20 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Princeton knotted the score late in the first quarter when Lovett punched his way through the line for a one-yard score to cap a nine-play, 77-yard drive that was sustained by a pass interference call on third down.
In the second quarter, the Big Green embarked on a nine-play, 75-yard drive of their own. A 32-yard pass to sophomore running back Miles Smith led to an eight-yard touchdown toss on the very next play to junior tight end Cameron Skaff. Junior David Smith supplied the extra point for the 14-7 lead.
Dartmouth denied the Tigers on the ensuing drive when junior safety Colin Boit batted away a fourth-down pass in Big Green territory. But the on the next Princeton possession, a pair of 20-plus yard completions to Isaiah Barnes helped the Tigers advance 85 yards to the Dartmouth five. The Big Green kept Princeton out of the end zone, however, and enjoyed a 14-10 lead into halftime after a 23-yard Tavish Rice field goal.
Not much went right for Dartmouth in the second half as the Tiger offense found another gear. Four times Princeton converted third-down plays as it marched 85 yards over 6:42, culminating with another one-yard plunge by Lovettt to take a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.
Dartmouth failed to gain a first down on its next two possessions, as did the Tigers in between the two. But Princeton extended its lead early in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass from Chad Kanoff, who finished the day with an even 200 yards, to Jesper Horsted. And when the Big Green fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers found the end zone three plays later on a three-yard scoring strike from Lovett to Scott Carpenter.
Trailing 31-14 with 12:10 to play, Dartmouth showed signs of life with five consecutive completions and a pair of first downs. The drive was cut short when Heneghan was hit as he released a throw that was intercepted by Chance Melancon at the Princeton 38. Four plays later, Volker was off to the races with a 39-yard touchdown run with 6:36 on the clock.
The Big Green did finish the game on a high note, covering 73 yards in just over two minutes to score their final touchdown of the year. The key play was a 32-yard pass to junior Ryder Stone to the one. From there, Stone took the handoff on third down and burrowed his way for a touchdown with 21 seconds remaining. Senior John Katzman, making his first varsity appearance, provided the point after.
Princeton had a balanced offensive attack with 219 yards on the ground and 230 more via the pass. Trevor Osborne led the Tiger receiving corps with five catches for 72 yards, while Barnes had three grabs for 60 more.
Sophomore Drew Hunnicutt led all players with six receptions for 97 yards, and freshman Hunter Hagdorn also caught six passes for 46 yards. But while the passing game boasted more than 300 yards, the rushing attack was held to a season-low 61 yards. Smith, who had topped 100 yards each of the previous two weeks, was contained for just 34 yards on 16 carries.
Three Dartmouth defenders recorded at least 10 tackles, led by junior linebacker Eric Meile with 17, not just a career high but the most by a Big Green player since Michael Runger had just as many against Princeton four years ago. Senior Folarin Orimolade had a personal-best 13 stops, one for a loss, and Boit added 10 more, also a career best, plus broke up a pass.
Dorian Williams and Rohan Hylton led the Tiger defense with nine tackles apiece, while Kurt Holuba and Brannon Jones each registered sacks. Hylton also secured an interception in the end zone to thwart a Big Green scoring opportunity.
Princeton tied atop the standings with Penn, which defeated Cornell today, 42-20. The possibility of a three-way tie for a second straight year fell by the wayside when Yale upset Harvard earlier in the day, 21-14.
Notes: Dartmouth had outscored its opposition by a 71-9 margin entering the game; Princeton turned the tables by putting up 21 points in the final 15 minutes ... Heneghan finished the season with 2,725 passing yards, third on the Big Green single-season charts, and 2,974 total yards, second-most all-time ... Hagdorn ended the year with 56 receptions — the only rookie in Dartmouth’s top 10 for a season — for 706 yards.