Location: Memorial Field, Hanover, N.H.
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Series Record: Dartmouth leads 53-40-1
Online Video: Big Green Insider — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst), produced by NSN
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM; Online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live Stats • Complete Game Notes
On this fifth of November, Dartmouth plays host to the Cornell Big Red as both teams entertain hopes of finishing conference play with a winning record. But only one team will have that opportunity when this day ends as both enter the game with a 1-3 mark with three to play.
Dartmouth is coming off a snow-covered 41-10 loss at Harvard last weekend, its eighth straight defeat at the hands of the Crimson. Not only was the October snowstorm a surprise, but also that the Big Green were also able to move the ball effectively through the air but not on the ground.
Senior quarterback Conner Kempe was spot on in the first half, connecting on 10-of-14 passes with a couple of drops. Senior tight end John Gallagher saw his most activity of the year with four catches for 41 yards, and senior receiver Garrett Babb had his most productive day in over two years with three receptions for a career-best 39 yards.
But once again, Dartmouth struggled against the Crimson defense when trying to run the ball. Over the past seven seasons, the Big Green have averaged less than 80 rushing yards and 2.6 yards per carry against Harvard. The Ivy’s leading rusher, senior Nick Schwieger, was held to just 51 yards on 15 rushes, although sophomore Dominick Pierre added 49 yards on 10 carries, including the lone Green touchdown with a minute to play.
The snow didn’t help out the Dartmouth defense as the Crimson accumulated 511 total yards, including 395 on the ground alone. It was the most rushing yards allowed by the Big Green in 25 years. That allowed senior safety Joey Casey to lead the team in tackles with 12, but he did make 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage as well.
Sophomore punter Daniel Barstein did his part to slow the Harvard offense, three times pinning the Crimson inside their own five. That merely led to touchdown drives of 99 and 95 yards, and another drive that ended with the second quarter.
Against Cornell a year ago in Ithaca, the Dartmouth defense stole the show with a school-record 10 sacks as the Big Green earned a 28-10 triumph. The Big Red gained just 188 yards on the day, and their only touchdown came moments after an interception at the Dartmouth 12.
Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens hopes Schwieger responds this week as he did last year when he broke out for 164 rushing yards at Cornell, one week after gaining just 69 versus Harvard.
Last week Cornell thrived in the snowstorm, defeating Princeton, 24-7. Quarterback Jeff Mathews completed 19-of-28 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown, and running back Ryan Houska ran for 108 yards and another score.
Visions of the Big Red
In order to post its first winning season in Ivy League play since 2003, Dartmouth will need to win its final three games, beginning with an emerging Cornell squad. Although just 3-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play, the Big Red have a potent offense that has scored at least 24 points in all but one game this season.
The offense begins with sophomore quarterback Jeff Mathews, who easily leads the Ivy League with nearly 300 passing yards per game while completing 62.8 percent of his passes, also best in the Ancient Eight. No other Ivy passer has thrown more touchdowns (14) or racked up more than 2,000 yards (2,076), and Cornell as a team ranks ninth in the FCS with 297 yards per game through the air.
The good news for Dartmouth fans is that Mathews is not much of a threat to run; the Big Green have had three quarterbacks run for over 100 yards against them this season. Mathews does have a 28-yard gain to his credit, but has picked up only 34 other yards running the football while losing 150 for a total of minus-88.
Not surprising is the fact that Cornell has three of the top six receivers in the league, and that those three also rank among the top four in receiving yardage. Shane Savage leads the loop with 42 receptions and 665 yards while taking six of those catches into the end zone. Watch out for wideouts Kurt Ondash (33 for 537 yards, 4 TDs) and Luke Tasker (30 for 517, 3 TDs) as well. But the Big Red have only thrown to wide receivers and running backs this season — not one catch has been made by a tight end.
Speaking of running backs, Ryan Houska splits time with Grant Gellatly as the featured back. Houska averages 4.6 yards per carry and has a total of 327 yards on the season with a pair of touchdowns. Gellatly has 209 yards at a 3.9-yard average with a pair of scores as well. On the whole, however, Cornell will primarily utilize its air attack to advance the ball as it ranks 13th out of 120 teams with just 76 rushing yards per game.
Much like Mathews is the heart and soul of the offense, so is middle linebacker Brandon Lainhart for the defensive unit with a team-best 69 tackles. When it comes to a pass rush, defensive end Zack Imhoff is a handful with 6.5 sacks and a whopping 13 tackles for a loss, plus three forced fumbles, each of which leads the league. Cornerbacks Rashad Campbell and Nick Booker-Tandy each have a pair of picks for a team that has seven, and the Big Red have forced 14 turnovers on the year. On the flip side, opponents have been able to move the ball steadily on the ground against them at over 170 yards per game, which plays right into the strength of the Dartmouth offense.
Campbell is one of the better return men in the conference on kickoffs and ranks among the top 20 nationally, but the Big Red don’t return many punts, though they have blocked two. Placekicker Brad Greenway is putting together a fine season with 10 field goals in 11 tries with the longest coming from 47 yards out. He doubles as the punter as well, but averages just 34.6 yards per punt.
Cornell is coached by Kent Austin, now in his second season guiding the Big Red with a current record of 5-12. He arrived in Ithaca after two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Mississippi where he led the Rebels to 30.8 points per game to help them earn a pair of Cotton Bowl victories. A four-year letterwinner for Ole Miss and still among the all-time Rebel passing leaders, Austin earned the NFF Scholar-Athlete Award in 1985 and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1986. He went on to an 11-year playing career in the CFL before coaching in the league. In his only season as a head coach, he won a Grey Cup with the Saskatchewan Roughridgers.
Various Harvard Vignettes
• Harvard has won eight straight in the series, the longest streak for either team against the other.
• No less than four receivers posted season highs for catches: (5), (4), (3) and Brad Dornak (2).
• Of the five punts by , four ended up inside the 20, including two at the five and another at the one.
• Harvard’s 395 rushing yards were the most by a Big Green opponent since Navy had 422 in 1986.
• Since 1975, only Penn had more rushing touchdowns in a game (7) against Dartmouth than the Crimson did (6).
• Harvard set a program record by having three different players rush for 100 yards.
• The two Dartmouth scoring drives were the longest of the season in terms of time — 7:56 and 8:54 — the latter of which was the longest in four years when the Green had a drive that lasted 8:54 in a 28-21 defeat at Harvard in 2007.
• The touchdown drive of 95 yards was the longest since a 99-yarder that ended as time expired in a 45-16 loss against Brown in 2008.
Vestige of a Uniform
With Dartmouth facing a 3rd-and-goal from the 13 near the end of the Harvard game, freshman QB Alex Park connected with senior , who was met at the two by six, count ’em, six Crimson defenders at once. The simultaneous collisions must have kept Dornak upright, though his helmet went flying off his head. He courageously continued into the end zone, only to have his first career touchdown negated since a play is dead once a ball carrier’s helmet comes off.
The Big Green failed to shake their camera-shy ways with the 41-10 loss at Harvard, their 12th straight defeat in games that have been televised. Three of those losses have come against Harvard, but the first two were at Memorial Field. The previous encounter between these two teams at Harvard Stadium with the cameras rolling (2003) ended in a Dartmouth triumph, 30-16.
Void Vanquishes Skid
Dartmouth halted a four-game losing streak with a 37-0 blanking of visiting Columbia on Oct. 22. It was the first Big Green shutout since a 31-0 triumph at Princeton in the final game of 2010, and just the 11th shutout in the past 33 seasons. The 37-point margin was the largest for Dartmouth since it posted a 40-0 whitewashing of the Lions 15 years ago.
For the seventh time in his career, senior Shawn Abuhoff was chosen as one of the Ivy League’s Players of the Week following the win over Columbia. The cornerback led the stingy Dartmouth defense with six tackles, but more importantly forced a pair of fumbles, both of which set up Big Green touchdowns. This selection, surprisingly enough, was the first time he had been chosen for his defense. His other six awards have been split evenly between Rookie of the Week in his freshman campaign of 2008, and Special Teamer of the Week. Only Jay Fiedler ’94 (8) has won more weekly honors at Dartmouth.
Verifying Schwieger’s Legacy
Senior broke Dartmouth’s all-time rushing record at Yale on Oct. 8, and continues to add to his total. In the 37-0 win over Columbia, he took the ball a season-high 29 times for 157 yards, and after the Harvard game now has 2,599 career yards, 347 more than the former record holder, Al Rosier ’91 (2,252). Schwieger also has 13 career 100-yard games, the most in Big Green history, and his 23 career touchdowns are second only to Myles Lane ’28 who had 33.
Venerable Green Vexes Lions
What better fit for linebacker Bronson Green than to play football for the Dartmouth Big Green? The sophomore picked off a pair of passes in the win over Columbia on Oct. 22, the first two of his career. His first interception came in the second quarter with a 14-yard return to the Lion 28. Four plays later, Dartmouth was in the end zone. His second snare led to the final Big Green score of the day. Those two picks vaulted him into a tie for first among Ivy League defenders. The last Dartmouth player with two interceptions in a game was Ian Wilson ’08 against Holy Cross in 2008.
Venturing to 4,000
With 98 passing yards at Harvard, Kempe became the fifth Dartmouth quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a career (4,091), joining Jay Fielder ’94 (6,684), ’02 (5,912), Charlie Rittgers ’06 (4,472) and Mark Johnson ’90 (4,413).
Against Columbia, the Dartmouth offense had possession of the ball for more than 39 minutes. The Big Green had not had possession for that long since a 44-14 victory over Bucknell 19 years ago.
Senior Tim McManus has been sidlined since suffering a concussion against Penn on Oct. 1, and his status remains uncertain. Dartmouth’s fifth-leading receiver all-time is hopeful to be good to go once Saturday arrives, but his availability will likely be a game-time decision. On the bright side, his younger brother, freshman Ryan, rebounded quickly from the concussion he got on Oct. 8 at Yale, even catching a pass against Columbia.
Patton Full of Vim and Vigor
While McManus was a no-go, junior RB/QB Greg Patton was finally able to go full bore against Columbia after dealing with nagging injuries for a year and a half. Mostly out of the wildcat formation, Patton ran for 43 yards on nine carries with a pair of touchdowns. Those were his first scores since setting the Dartmouth single-game rushing record with 243 yards and a pair of TDs against Cornell in 2009.