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Football Comes Up Short in Rain and Wind at Columbia, 21-13

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Senior defensive tackle Rehan Muttalib     By Mark Washburn

Saturday, October 25, 2008


NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Playing in a gusting wind and driving rain, Dartmouth succumbed to Columbia on Saturday afternoon at Lawrence Wien Stadium in a 21-13 defeat in Ivy League football action. Dartmouth (0-6, 0-3 Ivy) has lost eight straight games dating back to last year, while the Lions (1-5, 1-2 Ivy) ended a 13-game slide with the victory.

Dartmouth failed to gain 100 yards through the air or on the ground, totaling just 174 for the game. Columbia, on the other hand, racked up exactly 200 more with 374 total yards.

Clinging to a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter, the Lions changed quarterbacks, and M.A. Olawale took advantage of the opportunity, completing all seven of his passes for 111 yards, plus running for 52 more on just eight carries. When he first took over, he led his team 81 yards for a touchdown, connecting on two passes for 24 yards and running for the remaining distance himself. He even dashed into the end zone from 10 yards out, and with Jon Rocholl’s extra point, the Lions had an eight-point lead, 21-13.

Dartmouth went to work after Rocholl’s ensuing kickoff caught the wind and glanced off the right upright. Junior quarterback Alex Jenny (Wayland, Mass.), who had started the first five games, came off the bench on the previous drive and got the Big Green moving downfield. Two completions, a four-yard run by junior Rob Mitchelson (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and a roughing the passer penalty got Dartmouth into enemy territory. Jenny scrambled for 13 yards on a 3rd-and-10, and another first down put the Green on the Columbia 22. But the drive stalled there as a sack and a holding call pushed them back to the 37, forcing them to punt.

With just 7:08 left to play, Columbia went to work on the clock, eating up more than five minutes. The Lions lined up to kick the game-clinching field goal, but the holder fumbled the snap, giving Dartmouth a glimmer of hope.

The Big Green had no timeouts left, however, with just 1:43 on the clock. In an attempt to force the issue, Jenny’s third-down pass was intercepted, and Columbia kneeled down twice to end the game.

Starting the game driving into the wind, Columbia managed to drive inside the Big Green 20, only to have Rocholl’s 33-yard field goal attempt get blown wide to the left. After Adam Mehrer picked off a pass to get the ball back for the Lions, Columbia was able to eat up the clock for the rest of the first quarter. Once play resumed for the second period, Ray Rangel took the handoff and scored on a two-yard run, which was followed by the point after, giving the Lions a 7-0 lead.

Sophomore Tim McManus (St. Paul, Minn.), making his first collegiate start at quarterback, led Dartmouth into the wind on a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the score. Several key plays kept the possession alive, like a 22-yard run by senior Milan Williams (Mobile, Ala.) on a 3rd-and-12, and a 21-yard pass to sophomore Kyle Battle (Cincinnati, Ohio) after McManus had to recover a snap that was off target. Then facing a 3rd-and-goal from the Lions 7, McManus could not find a receiver but found an alley and scrambled to the end zone, reaching the ball across the goal line as he was tackled.

Although senior Brian Scullin (Alexandria, Va.) dropped a punt at the 12-yard line for the Big Green, Columbia was able to get another touchdown just before the end of the half to take a 14-7 lead. Quarterback Shane Kelly culminated the nine-play, 88-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown toss to Austin Knowlin.

Junior Matthew Dornak (Austin, Texas) returned the squib kick 30 yards to start the second half, giving Dartmouth the ball at the Lions 45. Once again McManus had a key scramble during the possession, this time converting a 4th-and-6 with an eight-yard run. That set up a 34-yard field goal from freshman Foley Schmidt (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.), cutting the Dartmouth deficit to four at 14-10.

Dartmouth caught a break late in the third quarter when Kelly tried to pass on the run, but the wet ball squirted out of his hands and senior defensive lineman Rehan Muttalib (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) pounced on it at the Columbia 14. The Big Green failed to advance the ball and had to settle for another Schmidt field goal, this time from 32 yards out to make it a one-point game. Olawale took control of the game after that.

“When you aren’t forcing the other team to punt, you have to make the most of your performances on each and every possession,” Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said after the game. “We put together some long drives, but came away with nothing or only three points to often.”

McManus and Jenny both completed 5-of-12 passes with one interception, throwing for 54 and 25 yards, respectively. The player who gained the most yardage on the day for the Big Green was Battle with two receptions for 39 yards. Senior strong safety Ian Wilson (Burbank, Calif.) led the Dartmouth defense with 13 tackles, while Muttalib pitched in nine.

The Columbia quarterback tandem of Kelly and Olawale combined to rush for 106 yards on the ground and 205 through the air.

Dartmouth returns home next Saturday to host Harvard at 12:30 p.m., to be televised regionally by NESN. Columbia plays the first of two consecutive road games when it travels to Yale in one week to play the Bulldogs, aslo at 12:30 p.m.