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Blocked Field Goals Doom Dartmouth Football at Cornell

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Freshman Conner Kempe     By Mark Washburn

Saturday, November 8, 2008


ITHACA, N.Y. Two blocked field goal attempts in the first quarter set the tone for the game as host Cornell snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating the Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field, 37-14. Big Red quarterback Nathan Ford passed for 306 yards to lead Cornell (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) to the victory. Dartmouth (0-8, 0-5 Ivy), meanwhile, lost its 10th straight game dating back to last year’s win over the Big Red.

Ford was rarely off-target all afternoon, completing 25-of-30 passes to post his third 300-yard game of the season with one touchdown and one interception. His lone scoring pass was a 96-yard bomb, the second longest pass in Cornell history. The running game was led by Randy Barbour with 70 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown, while Luke Siwula scored twice on the ground.

For Dartmouth, freshman Conner Kempe (Tequesta, Fla.) made his first collegiate start at quarterback, completing 25-of-52 passes for 256 yards, but he also had three passes intercepted. Sophomore Tim McManus (St. Paul, Minn.) was his most frequent target with a career-high 10 receptions for 122 yards. Senior Milan Williams (Mobile, Ala.) was the Big Green’s leading rushing with 38 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

The Big Red went right to work at the start of the game, covering 76 yards in 13 plays on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. Randy Barbour provided the final 10 yards with a burst up the middle, and Brad Greenway provided the extra point.

Kempe completed his first five passes and guided the offense down to the Cornell 14 before the Big Green stalled. The 31-yard field goal attempt was blocked, however, by Emani Fenton, and Andy Wade scooped up the ball and returned it for a Big Red touchdown. The point after gave Cornell a 14-point advantage.

Dartmouth did not fret over the turn of events, immediately moving the ball downfield again. A 17-yard completion to senior Eric Paul (The Woodlands, Texas) on 4th-and-2 kept the drive moving. But when faced with a 4th-and-4 at the Cornell 11, the Big Green went back to the field goal unit. The kick was tipped at the line by Chris Costello just enough to send the ball careening off line, keeping Dartmouth off the board just before the end of the opening period.

A Rashad Campbell interception at the Big Red 45 in the second quarter gave Cornell good field position. The host school was able to take advantage of the turnover, converting it into a Greenway 26-yard field goal to give the Big Red a 17-0 lead with 5:10 before the half.

A roughing-the-passer penalty on a third-down play near midfield kept the final Big Red possession of the half alive. Junior cornerback Muhammed Abdul-Shakoor came up with the defensive stop of the drive at the five, sending a receiver to the turf immediately after snaring a pass on 3rd-and-goal. Dartmouth finally caught a break when Greenway’s 23-yard field goal caromed off the left upright to keep the score at 17-0 at the intermission.

The Big Green came out gunning in the second half, beginning with a 45-yard bomb from Kempe to McManus. But Kempe’s next pass was read perfectly by safety Tim Bax who picked the ball out of the air at the Cornell three, denying Dartmouth once again.

The Big Red responded with a bomb of their own on their second play. Ford floated a ball downfield that Bryan Walters brought down before hoofing it to the end zone for the 96-yard touchdown.

Siwula added a five-yard touchdown run with 8:17 to play in the third quarter for a 30-0 Cornell lead. A false start on the PAT pushed the Big Red back five yards, enough that the kick went wide right.

A career-long 62-yard punt by senior Brian Scullin (Alexandria, Va.) pinned Cornell inside its own 10-yard line. The Big Red got one first down before freshman Shawn Abuhoff (Hialeah, Fla.) intercepted a pass, giving Dartmouth prime position at the Cornell 26. Freshman Foley Schmidt (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) finally got a field goal attempt past the Big Red defense, this time from 29 yards out, only to have the points taken off the board due to a roughing-the-kicker penalty. Instead of the three points, Dartmouth had a 1st-and-goal at the Cornell three. On the very next play, Williams carried the ball into the end zone, and Schmidt added the conversion for the first Dartmouth points of the game with 3:23 on the clock in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the third Cornell interception of the day led to another Luke Siwula touchdown, a one-yard plunge up the middle.

Kempe took Dartmouth on a 13-play, 71-yard drive on the Big Green’s final possession of the game, with Kempe scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a fourth-down one-yard keeper.

Senior linebacker Andrew Dete (Marietta, Ga.) led the Dartmouth defense with 11 tackles, while fellow senior Tony Bates (Hammonton, N.J.) contributed nine stops.

Dartmouth will attempt to play the role of spoiler against Ivy leader Brown next Saturday at Memorial Field in its final home game of the season at 12:30 p.m. Cornell takes to the road for its next game at Columbia in one week at 12:30 p.m. as well.