HANOVER, N.H. — The Dartmouth defense proved to be too much for visiting Cornell on Saturday at Memorial Field as the Big Green recorded its first shutout in four years with a 10-0 victory. Dartmouth (6-2, 3-2 Ivy) got all the points its needed in the first quarter on a 23-yard catch by Hunter Hagdorn, then sealed the win with a 33-yard field goal with 1:19 to play.
The Big Green held Cornell (3-5, 3-2 Ivy) to 250 yards and 12 first downs during the defensive struggle. The teams combined to punt 23 times — believed to be an Ivy League record — as both sides battled for field position all afternoon.
Dartmouth running back Ryder Stone posted career highs of 28 rushes and 119 yards to help the Green hold the ball for more than 35 minutes, while quarterback Jack Heneghan completed 16-of-30 passes for 141 yards and the lone touchdown of the day. As a team, Dartmouth amassed 299 yards on 75 plays, almost exactly four yards per play, a season low.
Cornell had trouble running the ball throughout the game, collecting just 51 yards on 33 rushes, led by Harold Coles with 38 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Dalton Banks had 184 yards while connecting on just 15 of 35 throws, but an interception in the fourth quarter proved crucial as the Big Green turned that into Smith’s victory-clinching field goal.
Dartmouth put together a nine-play, 85-yard drive during its second possession of the game. A 12-yard run by Stone and a 10-yard pass to senior Emory Thompson on third down set up the 23-yard scoring strike to Hagdorn less than nine minutes into the game.
For the rest of the half, neither team advanced into the red zone except for the Big Green in the final minute before the intermission. Dartmouth had a 4th-and-1 play at the Cornell 17, only to be stonewalled at the line when Heneghan mishandled the snap, keeping the score at 7-0 at the break.
The Big Red threatened to close the gap after receiving the second-half kickoff, thanks to a 46-yard pass to Collin Shaw that put Cornell on the Big Green 28. But an illegal forward pass on third down pushed the visitors outside of field goal range as they pinned Dartmouth inside its own 10 with one of Nickolas Null’s dozen punts on the afternoon.
Each of the next six possessions went three-and-out before the Big Green advanced to midfield on a 27-yard pass to Hagdorn, who finished the game with five catches for 68 yards. But a false start and a chop block penalty derailed the drive as the two teams managed just two first downs apiece in the third quarter.
Cornell had its best opportunity of the second half to score when it fair caught a punt at its 46 and a Dartmouth penalty allowed the Big Red to start past midfield with 6:44 remaining in the game. But on 2nd-and-7, a Banks pass went bounced off a receiver into the arms of sophomore cornerback Isiah Swann for the lone Cornell turnover of the day.
The Big Green took advantage of the miscue, running nearly five minutes off the clock — thanks to a 3-yard run by Wildcat quarterback Jared Gerbino on 4th-and-1 — before senior David Smith split the uprights for a 33-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead with 1:19 to play.
On the final desperation drive, the Big Red had four of their 12 first downs before the clock ran out with them perched on the Dartmouth 25.
Big Red safety Nick Gesualdi led all players with nine tackles, and David Jones had an interception inside the Cornell 10 during the second quarter to thwart one of the rare scoring opportunities.
Dartmouth plays at Fenway Park next Friday night with the Brown Bears (2-6, 0-5 Ivy) hosting the Big Green in a game that will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. The game will also be broadcast over the airwaves on 94.5 ESPN Radio with Adam Giardino and Wayne Young ’72 calling the action. Cornell returns home to host Columbia (6-2, 3-2 Ivy) at 1:30 p.m. in a game that will determine which one will stay in the race for a possible Ivy League title.
Notes: The last shutout for Dartmouth was a 56-0 whitewashing of Columbia in 2013 … the Big Green had not shut out Cornell since a 35-0 victory in 1976 … Stone enjoyed his third career 100-yard game on the ground and second this season, while his previous high for carries in a game was just 17 … sophomore Davis Brief punted 11 times for the Green, one shy of the program’s single-game record … with two weeks left in the season, the possibility of a seven-way tie for first still exists, while Dartmouth can still win the crown outright even with two league losses … only twice in the first 61 years of the Ivy League has a league champion had two losses … this is the Big Green’s first game decided by more than five points since the season opener.