Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008

Boxscore

HANOVER, N.H. -- Dartmouth had few answers for seventh-ranked New Hampshire in the first half on Saturday afternoon in the Big Green’s home opener as the Wildcats built a 28-0 lead en route to a 42-6 victory. The loss keeps Dartmouth (0-2) looking for its first victory of the 2008 season. New Hampshire (4-0) has now won 11 straight against the Big Green, dating back to 1992.

The Wildcat offense was as stout as advertised entering the game (19th nationally in total offense), amassing 525 yards -- 265 on the ground and 260 through the air. Dartmouth was able to slow down UNH somewhat in the second half after the Wildcats gained 310 yards in the opening half. Quarterback R.J. Toman topped 200 yards via the pass, completing 17-of-23 for 208 yards and one touchdown. He also had 46 yards rushing, while Robert Simpson, in place of injured starter Chad Kackert, led the squad with 82 yards on the ground on 14 carries.

The Big Green, on the other hand, managed only 238 total yards, 146 of which came in the second half. Junior Alex Jenny (Wayland, Mass.) was pressured all afternoon, yet still completed 18-of-32 passes. Most were short gains, though, as he had 130 yards passing one week after throwing for 343 yards against Colgate. He tossed one scoring pass and threw two interceptions, one of which was a circus catch after the ball was tipped in the air twice.

“We were a little wide-eyed at the beginning of the game,” admitted Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens, who had nearly 60 teammates from the 1978 Ivy League championship team on hand to witness the game. “The guys did not trust their technique and what they had practiced. But once they realized that despite New Hampshire being an excellent football team, they are human as well. We executed and competed much better in the second half. As the eternal optimist I am, I saw our kids really mature in this game. They are learning to trust their talent and ability.”

Field position gave New Hampshire a strong advantage at the outset of the game. The Wildcats began their first drive at the Dartmouth 48 following a facemask penalty on the opening kickoff return. Although it started the game with a three-and-out, New Hampshire pinned the Big Green at its own two, then got the ball back at the 50. The offense did not sputter again, needing just six plays to traverse the 50 yards, culminated by a four-yard run by Sean Jellison for the touchdown.


Senior Milan Williams breaking free from the New Hampshire defense.

Each team could not gain a first down on their next possessions, and once again UNH pushed Dartmouth back inside its own 10. With the Big Green forced to punt again, the Wildcats took control at their own 46, then nearly duplicated their first scoring drive just before the end of the first quarter, this time covering 54 yards in six plays. Jellison once again took the ball to the end zone, breaking a couple tackles for a 16-yard score to give UNH a 14-0 lead.

New Hampshire added two more touchdowns in the second quarter. First, Travis Negron contributed a six-yard touchdown run before Toman scored on a four-yard keeper with 2:15 left in the second quarter, giving the Wildcats a 28-0 lead that held into the intermission.

The Dartmouth offense made some adjustments at the half and advanced to the red zone for the first time to open the third quarter. But an eight-yard sack knocked them back, and freshman Foley Schmidt (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) left his 45-yard field goal attempt wide to the left.

Toman quickly got the Wildcats marching downfield again, needing just six plays to take them 72 yards. His 18-yard pass to Terrance Fox gave UNH a 35-point advantage.

The Big Green would not be denied on its next drive, methodically running 15 plays to gobble up 72 yards. Twice New Hampshire had goal-line stops at the one, but on third-and-goal from the three, Jenny lofted a pass to Philip McKeating (Gibsonia, Pa.), a linebacker helping out on the short-yardage team, for the Dartmouth touchdown. The extra-point attempt went wide left, however, keeping the score at 35-6.

The final score of the contest came in the fourth quarter courtesy of a five-yard run by Simpson. Tom Manning converted the PAT for the sixth time on the afternoon to make the score 42-6.

Freshman cornerback Shawn Abuhoff (Hialeah, Fla.) contributed a wonderful defensive sequence early in the fourth quarter after Dartmouth’s touchdown. On a second-down play, he stopped a receiver with an open-field tackle for no gain after a completion, and then picked off a pass the very next play, giving the Big Green one of its only two possessions to start in Wildcat territory at the 44. Dartmouth failed to capitalize, however, when senior Milan Williams (Mobile, Ala.) valiantly was making a third effort to gain a few more yards only to have the ball knocked loose.

Nine different receivers caught passes for the Big Green, including the quarterback Jenny on a reverse pass from sophomore Tim McManus (St. Paul, Minn.). McManus led all the team with seven receptions for 35 yards. Williams had 73 of the team’s 87 rushing yards, carrying the ball 16 times for a 4.6-yard average.

On defense, senior Ian Wilson (Burbank, Calif.) led Dartmouth with nine tackles, six solo, and his understudy, sophomore Patrick Scorah (Washington, D.C.) provided the team’s lone sack on the last play of the first half.

New Hampshire’s Ryan McGuinness led the Wildcats with seven tackles as no less than 33 players recorded tackles for UNH.

Dartmouth opens Ivy League play next Saturday on the road at Penn in a game televised by Comcast on CN8 regionally at noon. New Hampshire does not play again for two weeks when they host William & Mary in its homecoming game at noon on Oct. 11.

Notes: Coach Teevens was the quarterback of that 1978 squad that went 6-1 in Ivy play to win the outright title. He was the Ivy Leage Player of the Year ... The all-time series between Dartmouth and UNH is all tied at 17-17-2 -- the Big Green won the first 16 meetings through 1972 ... only three players completed passes against the Wildcats this year for Dartmouth; last year six Big Green players did.