While the Dartmouth defense was containing Pioneer quarterback Tim Little to just 9-of-21 throwing the ball for 71 yards with a pair of sacks, Sacred Heart was just as effective in harassing the two Big Green signal callers, sophomore Alex Park and freshman Dalyn Williams. The Big Green duo combined to complete half of its passes (12-of-24) for 160 yards, but was sacked three times and Park was picked off twice.
Playing without the Ivy League’s second-leading rusher in junior Dominick Pierre (out with an ankle injury) and one of the league’s top receivers in senior Michael Reilly (leg contusion), the Dartmouth offense went right to work after winning the coin toss and, for the second straight week, electing to receive. The decision paid off as Park guided the Green 52 yards down to the Sacred Heart 27, thanks to a trio of third-down conversions, before stalling. But sophomore Riley Lyons came on and booted a career-long 44-yard field goal to give Dartmouth an early 3-0 lead.
Sacred Heart managed to drive into Big Green territory following the kickoff, and although it was forced to punt, it began the battle for field position that the Pioneers consistently won all afternoon. A Dartmouth three-and-out, followed by a 27-yard punt, allowed Sacred Heart to start past midfield for the first of six times in the game. Spence took the ball on the first play and bowled his way for a 38-yard gain, and two plays later, Little found Tim Goodwin in the back of the end zone for a two-yard touchdown toss. The extra-point attempt banged off the upright, however, leaving the score at 6-3.
Dartmouth quickly responded as sophomore Kirby Schoenthaler went 79 yards on the ensuing kick return to put the Big Green back on top. It was the second kickoff return for a touchdown for the Big Green this year as Miles Gay brought back the season-opening kickoff for 85 yards back on Sept. 15. A Lyons extra point put Dartmouth up by four, 10-6.
It looked as though the Big Green would increase their lead further in the second quarter. A 30-yard Park completion to senior tight end Mitch Aprahamian and a 13-yard rush by senior Greg Patton were key plays as Dartmouth drove to the 13-yard line. But on a screen pass, Park left his throw just low enough for a leaping Niko Sierra to snare the ball. On the return, he spun out of one tackle and appeared to be headed to the end zone before coming up lame and being brought down at the Big Green 21. While Sierra did not return, the Pioneers needed just three plays to finish what he started with Spence punching into the end zone on a 10-yard run.
After pinning Dartmouth inside its own 10, Sacred Heart took over at the Big Green 32. The Pioneers were victimized by a crucial holding penalty that brought a 20-yard touchdown pass back, and they failed to convert a 4th-and-20 from the 30. Dartmouth returned the favor on its first play after taking over as a 62-yard pass to senior tight end Justin Foley was negated by an illegal block penalty.
The Green had one last chance to retake the lead before the half when freshman Victor Williams blocked a punt, giving Dartmouth the ball at the Pioneer 39. But Tyler Foehr sacked Park on third down and the Big Green went into the locker room trailing by three at 13-10.
In the third quarter, Sacred Heart again pinned Dartmouth inside its 10, then got excellent field position at the 22 after a punt return. A Little completion to Greg Moore was followed up by a 14-yard touchdown jaunt by Spence, his second score of the day. The point after once again hit the upright, but this time caromed through for a 20-10 Pioneer lead with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Dartmouth defense came through with a much-needed stop on an SHU fourth-and-one try from the 34-yard line. With Williams now under center, the Big Green offense took over. Facing 3rd-and-5, Williams completed a nine-yard pass to Ryan McManus, Dartmouth’s first third-down conversion since early in the second quarter. Williams moved the chains again with a 13-yard completion to Aprahamian. Going for it on 4th-and-7, Williams took it himself for a 14-yard pickup and crucial first down that signaled the end of the third quarter.
During the second play of the fourth frame, Williams hit Foley with a 13-yard pass down to the two-yard line, only to have Gordan Hill strip the ball free. The loose ball bounded into and out of the end zone for a touchback as Sacred Heart escaped the scoring threat.
The Big Green would not get another first down until after Spence dove into the end zone for his third touchdown and less than two minutes remained on the clock. Williams did advance Dartmouth down to the Pioneer one, only to be stuffed twice on a pair of keepers and have the fourth-down snap come too early, keeping the Big Green off the board.
Grove had a rough day in place of Pierre, gaining just 17 yards on the ground on 15 carries as Dartmouth was held to just 85 rushing yards. But the rookie was the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 62 yards. Patton was the Big Green’s top rusher with 35 yards on eight runs.
Sacred Heart’s Justin Sexton was the game’s leading tackler with 13 stops, and Foehr added nine tackles, three for a loss with 1.5 sacks.
Senior Garrett Waggoner led Dartmouth with eight tackles, while classmates Garrett Wymore and Mick Davis each had a sack of Little.
Dartmouth will resume its Ivy League schedule next Saturday, facing Columbia (1-4, 0-2 Ivy) in the Lions’ homecoming game at 1:30 p.m. Sacred Heart will return to conference play as well, heading to Pittsburgh to take on NEC opponent Duquesne at noon.