HANOVER, N.H. — Senior running back Nick Schwieger galloped for a school-record 257 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and the Dartmouth defense forced five turnovers to lift the Big Green to a 33-24 victory over visiting Cornell on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field. Dartmouth (3-5, 2-3 Ivy) racked up 540 yards of offense on the day, its first time over 500 yards in nine years, to win for the second time in the last three games. Jeff Mathews completed 25-of-38 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown for the Big Red (3-5, 1-4 Ivy), but he was also intercepted three times.
In addition to Schwieger’s recording-setting day, senior Conner Kempe threw for a season-high 161 yards with a pair of touchdowns while completing 14-of-23 passes. Junior Greg Patton ran for 83 yards on 12 carries out of the wildcat formation, and sophomore Dominick Pierre took a handoff six times for 39 yards including a 21-yard score. As a team, Dartmouth amassed 379 yards on the ground, its most in 20 years.
The Dartmouth defense thwarted Cornell on the first possession of the game when senior safety Joey Casey snared an errant pass in the end zone and brought it back out to the 12. After the Big Green offense failed to get a first down and punted away, a Mathews pass was tipped by a receiver and another defender before landing in the arms of a supine Casey for his second interception of the game that was less than six minutes old.
The Big Green took advantage of the second opportunity provided by the defense when Kempe found, deep down the left sideline, a wide-open Garrett Babb who waltzed into the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown and the first score of the day. Senior Foley Schmidt added the point after for a 7-0 lead after nine minutes of play.
The two sides traded punts before Cornell coughed up the ball for a third time in the first quarter. Mathews completed a short pass to Shane Savage who was met immediately by two Dartmouth defenders. It was senior J.B. Andreassi who jarred the ball free, and senior Matt Oh pounced on the loose ball at the Big Red 19. Although the offense failed to gain a yard, Schmidt gave the Big Green a 10-0 lead with a 37-yard field goal.
Cornell was closing in on the red zone to start the second quarter only to have senior Connor Phillips sack Mathews from the blind side, sending the football to the turf where senior Royce Egeolu fell on the ball at the Dartmouth 22. But neither team could mount enough offense to threaten to score for most the rest of the half, so it took a defensive play to put points on the board. With less than two minutes until the intermission, Big Red defensive tackle Emmitt Terrell chased after Kempe, who attempted to throw the ball away to avoid the sack. His pass, however, went directly to Zack Imhoff who strolled 10 yards into the end zone, and suddenly it was a 10-7 game with 1:36 left in the half.
But Dartmouth was not done as Kempe heaved a 43-yard pass downfield to freshman Bo Patterson, who caught the ball over his left shoulder while draped by a defender. Following two completions to freshman Kirby Schoenthaler, Kempe hit paydirt with senior tight end John Gallagher from six yards out. Schmidt’s PAT was blocked by Imhoff, snapping a string of 49 straight successful conversions and leaving it a 16-7 game.
Dartmouth got the ball to start the second half and drove down to the Cornell 12, only to have Schmidt pull a 31-yard field goal wide to the right. Mathews then guided the Big Red on an 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated on an 11-yard touchdown run around the left end by Ryan Houska. Brad Greenway’s extra point brought Cornell to within two at 16-14.
Kempe was picked off on the first play of the next Big Green possession, which led to a 42-yard Greenway field goal to give Cornell what turned out to be its only lead of the day at 17-16.
That lead was very short-lived as the Dartmouth running game really took off, gaining 264 yards over the final 16:25 of the game. Schwieger broke off a 53-yard run on the first play, and two plays later Pierre bolted 21 yards untouched for the go-ahead score and a 23-17 lead.
Cornell quickly went three-and-out, with Dartmouth twice stopping runs that needed just one yard for a first down. Then on 3rd-and-3 for the Big Green, Schwieger ran up the middle, spun to his left to avoid a tackle and sprinted the rest of the way for a 65-yard touchdown.
The Big Red weren’t done, though, as Luke Tasker returned the ensuing kick to the Dartmouth 42, then caught a Mathews pass for a 32-yard gain. Three plays later, Cornell was faced with a 4th-and-goal at the two and elected to go for it. Mathews threw a quick slant to Lucas Shapiro for the receiver’s first career score, making it a 30-24 contest.
Dartmouth kept the ball on the ground, chewing up more than four minutes off the clock, with Schwieger gobbling up 17 yards on one run and Patton 21 on another. Schmidt was summoned for a 41-yard field goal, which he converted to give the Green a nine-point lead and, more importantly, make it a two-possession game at 33-24.
Cornell was near midfield when Mathews attempted to complete a 30-yard pass to Shapiro. The ball arrived just before Casey, who provided a huge hit to pop the ball into the air for senior Luke Hussey to snare for an interception. Dartmouth ran off the final 4:56 of the game, which included a Schwieger 40-yard burst to set the single-game record and put him over 1,000 yards for the season for the second time in his career.
Patterson finished the day with a season-high five catches for 79 yards, the most for a Dartmouth receiver this year. Leading the Cornell receiving corps was Savage with eight catches for 67 yards, while Tasker added six receptions for 81 yards and Shapiro hauled in six more for 69 yards.
Dartmouth will play its final road game of the year next Saturday when it travels to Brown (7-1, 4-1 Ivy) at 12:30 p.m. Cornell returns home to Ithaca, N.Y., to host Columbia (0-8, 0-5 Ivy) at 12:30 p.m.
Notes: Patton held the single-game record for two years, having run for 243 yards against the Big Red in 2009 ... Schwieger had held the record for two whole weeks after accumulating 242 rushing yards against Columbia that season ... Schwieger is the only Big Green back to ever rush for 1,000 yards twice in a career ... the 379 rushing yards were the most for the Big Green since they put up 445 against Brown on Nov. 16, 1991 ... the last Dartmouth team to post 500 yards of total offense was the 2002 squad, which had 507 against Holy Cross ... the year before, the Big Green totaled 558 yards in a loss to New Hampshire ... Dartmouth averaged 8.2 yards per carry, its most in any game of the last 36 years.