Saturday, November 1, 2008

Boxscore

HANOVER, N.H. —  Entering the game against host Dartmouth on Saturday, Harvard had the ninth most passing yards in the FCS with nearly 300 per game. While the Big Green kept the Crimson under 100 yards through the air, they could not contain the visitor’s surprising rushing attack as Harvard (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) ran for 368 yards on 63 carries in a 35-7 triumph at Memorial Field. Dartmouth (0-7, 0-4 Ivy) lost its ninth straight game dating back to last year.

While the Crimson were running all over the field, their defense completely shut down the Dartmouth rushing attack, to the tune of minus-two yards on 19 attempts, the fewest attempts ever by a Harvard opponent. Overall the Big Green managed 123 yards of total offense, nearly half of which came on their final drive of the game that resulted in their lone score.

Harvard’s leading rusher was Ben Jenkins with 111 yards on 20 carries, one of which was a 15-yard touchdown. Gino Gordon needed just six rushes to gain 78 yards (13.0 average), and back-up quarterback Liam O’Hagan had 66 yards on eight rushes. Starting quarterback Chris Pizzotti managed 43 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns, both coming in the first half. He was averaging 292 yards passing, but had just 98 in this game, completing 12-of-18 passes.

With all those runs, the Crimson also ate up the clock, holding onto the ball for nearly 40 minutes (39:32). In both the second and third quarters, Harvard had control of the ball for 11:35 and 11:50, respectively, plus nearly 10 minutes in the fourth quarter.

“We were beaten by a better football team today,” Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said afterward. “We played hard and did a nice job of covering down field, forcing them to run. There were quite a few plays that were designed to be passes that their quarterback turned into rushes, probably in double digits. But credit him with not panicking or forcing plays — he kept his head and made good decisions, and we didn’t contain him.”

Malcolm Freberg (79) and Rehan Muttalib (left) were a big part of the defensive effort that held Harvard's Chris Pizzotti (19) to 98 passing yards.

Harvard struck first after getting terrific field position by holding the Big Green to a three-and-out on the game’s initial possession. A personal foul call against Dartmouth on the punt return put the ball on the Big Green 42, and it took the Crimson seven plays to reach the end zone. Pizzotti finished off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run, and Patrick Long’s extra point put Harvard up 7-0.

Long provided a 34-yard field goal less than three minutes into the second quarter to boost Harvard’s advantage to 10.

Pizzotti guided the Crimson on a 87-yard late in the second quarter to take a 17-0 lead. The key play was a 31-yard run by Gordon to the Dartmouth 19. Three plays later, Pizzotti had his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard run with just 1:59 on the clock.

But Harvard was not finished before the intermission. Starting at their own 28, the Crimson quickly ate up the real estate, with Gordon providing runs of 16 and 13 yards. Another personal foul call against Dartmouth moved the ball into the red zone, and Pizzotti took a shot at a touchdown pass, only to have it batted away by senior Ian Wilson (Burbank, Calif.). With just three seconds on the clock, Harvard settled for a Long 30-yard field goal and a 20-0 lead as the horn sounded.

The second half seemed to start better for the Big Green as the defense stopped Harvard at the Dartmouth 39, forcing a punt. But for the first time all season, the punt return was muffed when the ball glanced off the returner’s helmet, and Harvard recovered the fumble at the 18. On the next play, Pizzotti scrambled until he hit tight end Jason Miller with a pass for a touchdown. The extra point attempt was blocked by senior Casey Frost (Lawndale, Calif.), however, to keep the score at 26-0.

Harvard was denied its next trip down the field as junior Peter Pidermann (Hialeah, Fla.) and sophomore Spencer Hood (Carlsbad, Calif.) stopped O’Hagan on a 4th-and-2 at the three. That simply led to a safety when freshman Conner Kempe (Tequesta, Fla.) was penalized for intentional grounding while in the end zone, with pressure applied from defensive end Desmond Bryant.

Jenkins had a 15-yard touchdown burst at the onset of the fourth quarter for Harvard’s final score.

Dartmouth avoided the shutout in the waning seconds when Kempe guided a 70-yard drive. Three times he connected with senior walk-on Jimmy Mullen (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.) — his first career receptions — for 37 of those yards. Kempe threw his first collegiate touchdown pass with 44 seconds left to sophomore Will Deevy (Englewood, Colo.), his first career touchdown, from three yards out.

Kempe finished the game 7-of-16 passing for 64 yards and the one touchdown. Starting quarterback Alex Jenny (Wayland, Mass.) completed 9-of-15 passes for 61 yards.

The Big Green defense was led by Hood who had 11 tackles, while Wilson and defensive tackle Rehan Muttalib (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) each had nine stops.

Dartmouth travels to Cornell (3-4, 1-3 Ivy) next Saturday to take on the Big Red, which lost their fourth straight today in a 31-26 loss against Princeton, at 1 p.m. Harvard, meanwhile, returns to Cambridge to host Columbia (1-6, 1-3 Ivy) at noon.