HANOVER, N.H. — Trailing by three points with five seconds to play, sophomore Jared Gerbino ran for the 32nd time out of the Wildcat formation and broke the goal line from 2 yards out for his fourth touchdown of the day, lifting Dartmouth (8-2, 5-2 Ivy) to a wild victory over Princeton (5-5, 2-5 Ivy) on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field. Senior Darius George put the final stamp on the win by intercepting a lateral on the ensuing kickoff and waltzing into the end zone for the final score in the 54-44 triumph, the highest-scoring game in Big Green history in 133 years.
George’s touchdown capped a 34-point fourth quarter for Dartmouth, the most points it has ever scored in a fourth quarter and the second-most in any quarter.
Gerbino finished the game with 202 yards on his 32 carries to become the first Dartmouth player in six years to top 200 rushing yards in a game. As a team, the Big Green rolled for 343 yards on the ground and 208 more through the air to enjoy season highs in points and total yardage.
Princeton traded blows with Dartmouth all afternoon thanks to the right arm of quarterback Chad Kanoff, who completed 37-of-46 throws for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scoring strikes went to Jesper Horsted, who finished the game with 12 grabs for 169 yards. Although the Tigers had just 51 rushing yards on 22 carries, Charlie Volker ran for three touchdowns among his 16 rushes while gaining 40 yards.
The Tigers held a 27-20 lead entering the fourth quarter before the scoreboard was treated like a pinball machine. Gerbino rumbled into the end zone from a yard out on the first play of the period, and senior David Smith provided the point after to knot the score at 27. After Tavish Rice booted a 42-yard field goal to put Princeton back on top, 30-27, the lead would change hands five times.
Gerbino keyed the next drive with a 53-yard run — the longest all season for Dartmouth — then capped the seven-play, 80-yard possession with a four-yard touchdown run and a 34-30 advantage.
Princeton answered just as quickly, traversing 78 yards in seven plays as Kanoff completed each of his five passes, the last a 20-yarder to Stephen Carlson from 20 yards out, putting the Tigers back on top, 37-34.
While Princeton was doing much of its damage through the air, the Big Green generally kept to the ground as Gerbino continued to pound the ball. After running the ball five of the first six plays on the next drive, senior Jack Heneghan stepped behind center and connected on a 49-yard bomb to sophomore Hunter Hagdorn — the 100th catch of his career — to let Dartmouth reclaim the lead, 41-37.
With 5:18 still on the clock, the Tigers had plenty of time to march down the field, doing so in seven plays (the fifth consecutive scoring drive that lasted exactly seven plays). Kanoff found his target on six of his seven throws, gobbling up 80 yards with the final 29 going to Horsted for another three-point edge at 44-41.
Princeton then kicked the ball out of bounds, putting Dartmouth on its 30 with 3:02 still showing. One final time, the Big Green were able to respond, methodically marching the 70 yards in 12 plays. Five of the first six were Gerbino runs, mixed in with a Heneghan 22-yard connection with sophomore Drew Estrada. After an incomplete pass, Heneghan hit on three straight short throws, sending Dartmouth down to the Tiger 11.
It looked as if Dartmouth had retaken the lead with 17 seconds left when Hagdorn brought down a lofted pass into the near corner of the end zone, only to have the score taken off the board on a penalty for an ineligible receiver downfield. But a defensive holding call, followed by a pass interference penalty, pushed the Big Green down to the 2-yard line with five seconds remaining. Eschewing a game-tying field goal from 19 or 20 yards out, Buddy Teevens, the Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach, put his trust in Gerbino, who burrowed just past the goal line for the go-ahead score.
The clock initially ran out, but the referees put one second back on the clock. When Princeton tried to lateral its way down the field, George intercepted the second backward pass at the 10-yard line and cruised into the end zone for the game’s final points.
Princeton had jumped out to a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on each of its first two possessions on a Volker one-yard run and a 7-yard pass to Horsted.
The tide turned when a Dartmouth punt bounced off a Tiger blocker and was recovered by junior Bun Straton at the Princeton 26 early in the second quarter. The Big Green proceeded to match the two Tiger touchdowns on short runs by senior Ryder Stone — who had 89 yards of his own on 16 carries — and Gerbino. And when Kanoff was picked off by junior linebacker Jake Moen with 1:42 left in the half, the Big Green were able to convert that turnover into three points as Smith sent a 25-yard field goal through the uprights for a 20-13 lead at the intermission.
When the Big Green offense was a bit sluggish coming out of the locker room, Princeton got back into gear with two more Volker scoring scampers. Dartmouth then embarked on a 15-play, 80-yard drive that lasted just over seven minutes with Gerbino starting the fourth-quarter explosion with his second touchdown run.
“What a fantastic way to end the season,” said Coach Teevens following the game. “Just a heavyweight bout between two offense running on all cylinders. But it is a shame the season is over. This has been such a fun group to coach this year, and I am very proud of everything they have accomplished. We played a lot of close games this year, and the guys showed their toughness time and again.”
Unfortunately for Dartmouth, Yale’s 24-3 victory over Harvard today left the Big Green in a tie for second with Columbia in the Ivy League standings, one game behind the Bulldogs, which finished at 6-1 with their lone loss coming against Dartmouth. The two Big Green losses this year came by a total of eight points.
Linebackers Jack Traynor and Eric Meile led the Dartmouth defense with 14 and 13 tackles, respectively, and the Big Green forced three turnovers that led to 17 points without coughing the ball up once.
Heneghan finished the game completing 20-of-31 throws for 208 yards and a touchdown, joining Jay Fiedler ’94 (1992) as the only Dartmouth quarterbacks to have at least one scoring toss in every game in a season. Coincidentally, that 1992 squad that won an Ivy League championship was honored during a ceremony at halftime.
Horsted wasn’t the only Tiger receiver with a big game as Carlson hauled in 10 passes for 138 yards and a score. Estrada led the Big Green receiving corps with seven catches for 79 yards.
Notes: This is the third time in the past four years Dartmouth has won eight games or more ... the 44 points are the most for a Big Green opponent in a Dartmouth victory ... this is just the seventh time the Green have won a game in which they surrendered 30 points or more ... Gerbino is the first Big Green player to run for four touchdowns in a game since Al Rosier ’91 did it against Brown on Nov. 16, 1991 ... Dartmouth also ran for 445 yards in that game against the Bears, the last time the Green had as many yards on the ground as the 343 today ... the highest-scoring game in program history came during the 1884 season when Yale defeated the Big Green by a final of 113-0 ... the highest-scoring Dartmouth quarter is a 35-point second quarter in a 49-20 win over Brown on Nov. 5, 1972 ... Heneghan finished his career with 4,900 passing yards, fourth all-time for the Big Green. He is also fourth in total yards with 5,289 … the 54 points were the most for Dartmouth since a 56-0 blanking of Columbia four years ago ... the Big Green last topped 500 yards of offense last season against Brown when they posted 615 ... the last 200-yard rusher for Dartmouth had been Nick Schwieger ’12 when he set the school record with 257 yards in a 33-24 win over Cornell on Nov. 5, 2011 ... the Big Green racked up 32 first downs, tying the school record set by the 1980 team in a 48-0 win over Columbia ... George’s 10-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the first for Dartmouth since George recovered a fumble in the end zone at Holy Cross last year ... no team had thrown for 400 or more yards against the Big Green in 10 years (Brown).