Last-Minute Field Goal Sends Dartmouth to 24-21 Defeat
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A 23-yard field goal off the foot of Andrew Flesher with 48 seconds to play lifted Harvard past the visiting Dartmouth Big Green, 24-21, in front of 13,470 fans at Harvard Stadium on Saturday evening. The Crimson victory was the 10th straight for Harvard (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) against the Big Green, while Dartmouth fell to 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in Ivy League play.
The Crimson outgained the Big Green by nearly 100 yards, 413-318, thanks in large part to running back Paul Stanton who took the handoff 26 times for 146 yards. Quarterback Connor Hempel picked up 70 yards on 17 carries as well, plus completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.
Senior Dominick Pierre and sophomore Kyle Bramble each had a touchdown run for Dartmouth, but quarterbacks Dalyn Williams and Alex Park managed to complete just 12-of-30 passes for 172 yards with two interceptions — equaling the team’s season total entering the game. Junior Bo Patterson was the leading receiver with five catches for 90 yards.
Harvard ran nearly five minutes off the clock during its game-winning drive, leaving Dartmouth little time to get into field-goal range. Starting at their 38 with 5:46 to play, the Crimson methodically advanced the ball down to the Big Green six before Flesher came on to kick the ball through the uprights.
Having used all three of its timeouts to ensure some time would be left on the clock, Dartmouth turned to Park behind center. After hitting Patterson for a 16-yard pickup, Park’s next pass sailed high of its target and into the waiting arms of the Crimson’s Jaron Wilson, who downed the ball. One kneel-down later and Harvard had its victory.
The Crimson had an opportunity to take the lead earlier in the fourth quarter, but Flesher’s 36-yard field goal attempt curved wide to the left. That came after the Big Green went for it on 4th-and-3 at the Crimson 37, only to have a scrambling Williams get sacked at midfield.
Trailing 13-7 at the intermission, Dartmouth received the second-half kick with an eye on taking the lead. But the Big Green could not pick up a first down on either of its first two possessions. Instead, the defense provided the play to give Dartmouth its first lead against Harvard in six years.
With the Crimson on their own 37, Hempel threw the ball to his left to Bo Ellis, who could not make the catch. While Ellis thought it was an incomplete pass, the throw was ruled a lateral, leaving strong safety Stephen Dazzo to scoop up the ball and sprint 33 yards untouched for the touchdown. Junior Riley Lyons added the point after to put the Green on top, 14-13.
Harvard answered right back, however, with a touchdown spanning 11 plays and 75 yards. A 4th-and-1 at the 33 threatened to end the drive, but Hempel picked up just enough on a keeper to get the nose of the football past the marker. On the very next play, the Crimson ran a reverse to receiver Ricky Zorn, who in turn heaved a 32-yard pass to Andrew Berg just inside the back of the end zone. A successful two-point conversion gave Harvard a seven-point lead at 21-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, freshman Jon Marc Carrier was stopped at the 22, taking a hard hit that knocked him out. After a delay of more than 10 minutes, he was taken off the field on a stretcher for precautionary reasons. He was able to move his arms and legs, and the diagnosis on the field was a concussion.
With Carrier on his teammates’ minds, Dartmouth put together its own prolonged drive, even though Pierre was sidelined with an injury on the second play. Williams immediately connected on a 44-yard pass to Patterson after Pierre left the field. The Big Green then went to the ground, utilizing the legs of Williams and Bramble, including a 4th-and-5 play in which Williams dove just far enough for a first down at the nine. Bramble completed the 13-play, 78-yard drive with a seven-yard run right up the middle, and the PAT knotted the score at 21.
Harvard jumped out to a 13-0 lead to start the game. On the Crimson’s second possession, Hempel guided the offense 52 yards for a touchdown, which he scored himself on a nine-yard keeper through the middle of the line.
On the Big Green’s first play from scrimmage after the Harvard touchdown, a Williams pass was batted skyward, allowing D.J. Monroe to pluck it from the air for an interception. The defense was able to hold the Crimson to a 34-yard Andrew Flesher field goal.
It looked as if the Big Green would answer those three points with a field goal of their own after running 14 plays down to the Harvard nine. But the 26-yard attempt from the left hash mark was pulled wide left, leaving the Crimson with a 10-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the opening quarter.
With the emotional lift from the missed field goal, Harvard running back Paul Stanton took the handoff and changed direction to gain 63 yards down the left sideline to the 17-yard line. Dartmouth managed to gather itself during the break between the first and second quarter, and once again held the Crimson to a field goal, this time a 32-yarder.
The ensuing kickoff went out-of-bounds, and the Big Green took advantage of the field position. Pierre ran for the touchdown from 10 yards out one play after a scrambling Williams found senior tight end Cole Marcoux for a 41-yard gain.
Senior linebacker Michael Runger led the Dartmouth defense with 14 tackles, while senior nickelback Mike Banaciski collected 10 stops. Sophomore linebacker Zach Slafsky had the lone Big Green sack on the evening as one of his seven tackles.
Dartmouth returns to Memorial Field next Saturday to host Cornell (1-6, 0-4 Ivy) in a game to be broadcast nationally by NBC Sports Network. Next up for Harvard is a game at winless Columbia (0-7, 0-4 Ivy) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.