Senior Day Saturday Brings Opportunity for Winning Ivy Season
Location: Memorial Field, Hanover, N.H.
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1:30 p.m.
Series Record: Tied 43-43-4
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
Winning Ivy Record on the Line
It has been eight years since the Dartmouth Big Green finished a football season with a winning record in Ivy League play. A victory against Princeton at Memorial Field on Saturday would end that drought and give the Green the chance to finish as high as second in the league standings.
Dartmouth also has the opportunity to string together its third consecutive victory, a feat it has not accomplished since that last winning Ivy season in 2003. Last week, the Big Green arguably pulled off their biggest upset in seven years by knocking off Brown on the road, 21-16, ending the Bears’ hopes of earning a share of the Ivy title.
In order to beat the Bears, Dartmouth played a grinding style of football, hoarding the ball for more than 36 minutes, and over 10 minutes for each of the third and fourth quarters. With the offense able to deny Brown the ball, and the defense yielding just two scores on the day, the Green came up with their most complete effort of the year.
The will and determination of senior Nick Schwieger seemed to infect the entire Dartmouth squad as he took a handoff a career-high 37 times for 137 yards and the winning touchdown. But the play that epitomized the game was a short pass he caught on 3rd-and-10 during the game-winning drive. Schwieger shed two tacklers then dove for the sticks to gain just enough for first down.
The defensive numbers themselves don’t look all that impressive, mainly because Brown’s offense simply wasn’t on the field much. Seniors Shawn Abuhoff and Joey Casey led the Big Green with eight tackles apiece, while Abuhoff broke up two passes and forced a fumble. One of the key plays of the game, however, was an interception in the end zone during the fourth quarter by senior J.B. Andreassi. The play was made possible by the oncoming rush of senior lineman Eddie Smith, who hurried the Bear QB into an errant toss.
Brown conducted just seven true offensive drives during the game (not including the final seconds of each half). Three times Dartmouth held the Bears without a first down, and forced a turnover on downs another time. All told, Brown ran just 49 offensive plays, the fewest for a Big Green opponent in 22 years.
Dartmouth may have ended the Bears’ six-game winning streak and knocked them out of the hunt for the Ivy crown, but now the Green must deal with a team on a six-game skid in Princeton. Last year Dartmouth handed the Tigers a 31-0 blanking at Princeton Stadium, a result many on the opposing sideline are not likely to forget in an attempt to exact some revenge. Schwieger ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns, and Dan Rooney capped the season with the longest pass of the year, a 69-yarder for a touchdown to Tim McManus. The Big Green defense picked off two passes and sacked the Tiger QB three times in producing its first shutout in 15 years, also against Princeton.
Entering the final game of his career, senior needs a mere seven yards to become the first player in 130 years of Dartmouth football to rush for 3,000 yards. His 2,993 markers are 25 percent more than the previous record held by Al Rosier ’91 (2,252).
First Road Win of 2011
Dartmouth had lost each of its first four road games this year, but pulled off an upset at Brown with a 21-16 victory. The win was also the first for the Big Green at Brown Stadium since 1996, having lost six straight at the venue. In addition, Dartmouth ended a 14-game slide on natural grass, the last win coming in 2005 when Dartmouth beat Columbia at Memorial Field, 17-6, the year before the FieldTurf was installed.
Keeping the Defense Fresh
The biggest key to the Big Green victory at Brown was time of possession. Dartmouth had the ball for more than 10 minutes in each of the third and fourth quarters, and a total of 36:32 for the game while running 73 plays. Meanwhile, the Bears only had enough time to run 49 plays. No Green opponent had run fewer plays in a game in 22 years (43 by Penn on Nov. 18, 1989 in a 24-0 win). Also, Dartmouth leads the Ivy League in time of possession in conference games alone by nearly two full minutes (33:09 to Harvard’s 31:16).
Schwieger Carries the Load
As stated in the previous note, Dartmouth ran 73 plays of offense. Well, on 40 of those, senior had the ball with a career-high 37 rushes and three receptions. He gained 137 yards on the ground for his 15th career 100-yard game and seventh of the season, plus scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. No Big Green rusher had taken a hand-off that many times since 2004 when Chad Gaudet had identical numbers in a win over Brown — 37 rushes, 137 yards, one TD.
Taking Care of the Ball
The Dartmouth coaches preach about taking care of the football and minimizing mistakes, and their players have taken that to heart. Of the 120 teams at the FCS level, only two have turned the ball over fewer times than the Big Green (10) — North Dakota State (6) and Sam Houston State (8). Minimizing mistakes also speaks to penalties, and Dartmouth ranks ninth in fewest penalties per game.
Kempe in a Groove
Over the last four games, quarterback has been on his game, completing 52-of-87 (59.8 pct.) of his passes for 508 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Compare those numbers to the first five contests: 51-of-107 (47.7 pct.) for 517 yards and four touchdowns. Against Cornell, Kempe completed 14-of-23 for a season-high 161 yards with two scoring strikes, his first game with more than one touchdown toss since throwing three at Penn in the third game of the 2010 season. Among his completions were ones of 43 and 47 yards, his longest tosses since the Yale game last year when he had throws of 44 and 48 yards against the Bulldogs. Entering the final game, he needs 125 yards through the air to become the school’s third-leading passer of all-time.
Academic All-District Selections
Dartmouth had three players named to the Capital One ® Academic All-District I Football First Team — senior tight end John Gallagher, senior linebacker Luke Hussey and senior wide receiver Tim McManus. Gallagher is an economics major with a 3.59 GPA and leads the Big Green with 22 receptions for 202 yards and two scores. Hussey is an engineering major with a 3.94 GPA while recording 66 tackles this year, ranking third on the squad and 12th in the Ivy League. McManus, a history major with a 3.48 GPA, is Dartmouth’s fifth-leading receiver all-time with 134 receptions, but has been sidelined with concussion symptoms since the middle of the third game.
The Block Party is Back
Last year, Dartmouth special teams managed to block six kicks, which ranked among the top 10 amongst all FCS schools. This year, the Big Green have proven the blocks were no fluke as they recorded their seventh on a PAT at Brown thanks to junior John Golio. Dartmouth has also swatted two kicks in three other games and is sixth in the FCS, trailing North Dakota and The Citadel with nine, and Drake, Old Dominion and Portland State all with eight.
Fletcher Staying Centered
Senior Austen Fletcher has been a mainstay on the offensive line since his freshman year. The center has started each of the last 35 games and 37 of 39 in his career. In addition, his classmate, Shawn Abuhoff, is making his 37th consecutive start today at cornerback.