DURHAM, N.H. — Big Green sophomore Nick Schwieger rushed for 119 yards as Dartmouth gained more than 300 yards of offense against the top-ranked defense in the FCS, but sixth-ranked New Hampshire (3-0) took advantage of five Big Green turnovers to defeat Dartmouth (0-2) at Cowell Stadium on Saturday afternoon, 44-14.
The host Wildcats evenly distributed 528 yards of offense — 269 on the ground, 259 through the air — despite the loss of starting quarterback R.J. Toman late in the second quarter. While Toman was 9-of-13 passing for 154 yards while running for 58 more on six carries, Decker was just as effective going 9-of-14 for 76 yards and a touchdown, plus 56 yards rushing on three carries, one of which was a 33-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter. Running back Chad Kackert, making his first appearance of the season, led the team with 12 rushes for 71 yards and two scores.
With his 119 yards on 26 carries, Schwieger became the first Dartmouth back to rush for 100 yards since both Nate Servis and current senior Rob Mitchelson both topped the century mark against Columbia on Oct. 20, 2007, a span of 16 games.
Senior Alex Jenny was effective at quarterback, completing 20-of-29 passes for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was Jenny’s fourth career game with at least 20 completions. His favorite receiver was junior Tanner Scott, who caught six passes for 48 yards, while sophomore Michael Reilly hauled in four receptions for a game-high 57 yards.
The New Hampshire offense proved to be difficult to stop in the opening quarter, scoring three touchdowns. After taking the opening kick, the Wildcats needed nine plays to move the ball 70 yards to the end zone. Toman completed all three passes for 39 yards during the drive, and Kackert scored on a four-yard run.
Dartmouth answered right back as sophomore Shawn Abuhoff returned the ensuing kick 58 yards to the Wildcat 27. Three Schwieger runs got the ball down to the 10 before Jenny lofted a pass to Reilly, who won the jump ball in the end zone to tie the score at seven.
But the Wildcats quickly marched downfield once again. Kackert finished off a seven-play, 62-yard possession with a 15-yard jaunt around the left side for a touchdown.
The Big Green moved the ball well again, but the Wildcat defense stood Schwieger up at the UNH 14 and stripped the ball for a fumble. A 65-yard pass from Toman to Eric Mangieri was the big play for New Hampshire, setting up a seven-yard touchdown run on a Toman keeper. The extra point attempt, however, was blocked by junior Matt Oh to keep the score at 20-7.
Despite facing the top defense in the country in terms of total yards, Dartmouth continued to move the ball. Jenny completed all six of his passes during a drive early in the second quarter, the final one for 12 yards to senior Niles Murphy for his first career touchdown. Murphy made the catch despite being interfered with, tipping the ball when it arrived before corralling it for the score.
The Big Green had one more shot to put points on the board before the half expired, advancing to the UNH 36 with under a minute to play. Jenny took a shot at the end zone and had his pass picked off by Dino Vasso, keeping the Dartmouth deficit at six, 20-14, going into the half.
New Hampshire kicked off to start the second half, recovering a fumble at the Dartmouth 22 for a golden opportunity of its own. But a staunch defensive effort by the Green kept the Wildcats from advancing and the 40-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
Jenny continued to guide the offense through the Wildcat defense, only to have New Hampshire strip the ball out of receiver Garrett Babb’s hands at the UNH 12. The Wildcats were able to convert that turnover into a touchdown on the 13th play of the drive as Decker connected with J.T. Wright from 15 yards out on a 3rd-and-goal. New Hampshire converted the two-point play on a shovel pass to Sean Jellison, making it a 28-14 game.
Once again, Dartmouth took the ball into the red zone, this time stalling at the 13-yard line. The 30-yard field goal attempt by sophomore Foley Schmidt went wide right, however, and the Big Green never threatened again.
After Decker’s 33-yard touchdown run, sophomore Connor Phillips blocked another PAT for the Big Green. Dartmouth went three-and-out, but Abuhoff came up with his second interception in as many weeks at the Dartmouth 27. Two plays later, Vasso returned the favor with his second pick of the day, taking it 34 yards to the house for a 41-14 UNH lead. A Tom Manning field goal with just over a minute to play completed New Hampshire’s scoring in the game.
For the second straight week, senior strong safety Tony Pastoors led the Dartmouth defense in tackles, accumulating 12 stops this week. Juniors Pat Scorah and Matt Oh each had a pair of tackles for a loss, while sophomore J.B. Andreassi registered his first career sack.
The Big Green will attempt to snap their 14-game losing streak during a nationally televised home game on VERSUS against Penn in both teams’ Ivy League opener next Saturday at noon. The game was moved up from its original time of 1:30 p.m. to accommodate the broadcast.