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Late Comeback Effort Comes Up Short Against Penn, 30-24

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Senior Niles Murphy     By Mark Washburn


HANOVER, N.H. — Despite touchdown passes to senior Niles Murphy and sophomore Garrett Babb, and a brilliant 19-yard touchdown run by sophomore Nick Schwieger, the Dartmouth Big Green were unable to top Penn on the gridiron on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field in a 30-24 defeat. The Quakers (1-2, 1-0 Ivy) racked up 288 yards on the ground, 120 by freshman Lyle Marsh, in holding off host Dartmouth (0-3, 0-1 Ivy), which lost its 15th consecutive game.

Penn had much more success on the ground than in the air with starting quarterback Keiffer Garton sidelined by injury. The Quakers had just 69 yards passing — 21 on a halfback pass by Brad Blackmon — but the running of Marsh, who gained his 120 yards on 23 carries, freshman quarterback Billy Ragone (nine carries, 62 yards), Blackmon (4-70 yards) and Mike DiMaggio (8-35) allowed Penn to control the game.

While the Quakers were averaging 6.3 yards per rush, Dartmouth found the holes a little tighter, averaging 3.0 yards per carry and totaling 71 yards on the ground for the game. Schwieger provided all those yards and then some with 78 on 22 rushes. The Big Green managed to throw the ball well as senior Alex Jenny amassed 204 yards through the air, completing 23-of-38 passes with a couple of touchdowns. He also had a controversial interception late in the fourth quarter that mostly sealed Dartmouth’s fate.

Trailing 27-17 with 7:15 to play, Dartmouth got possession of the ball at its own 29. Jenny completed a first-down pass to freshman tight end Justin Foley, but after a holding call, the Big Green were facing a 2nd-and-20 from their own 31. The next play was a pass beyond midfield which cornerback Jonathan Moore closed on and intercepted, despite Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens’ objection that the Big Green receiver was hit before the ball arrived.

Sophomore Nick Schwieger broke several tackles, like this one, to make his way 19 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Now with 5:24 left on the clock, Penn took to the ground to milk some time. The Quakers did take a chance on a 3rd-and-6 play by pulling the halfback pass out of the bag, but Blackmon was able to connect with David Wurst for 21 yards just before senior safety Tony Pastoors arrived. Six plays later, Andrew Samson kicked his third field goal of the day, a 29-yarder, to give Penn a 30-17 advantage with just over a minute left.

Dartmouth did not go quietly, however, as Penn booted the kickoff just 17 yards, which the Big Green quickly downed at the Penn 47. Jenny took advantage of the short field, completing 7-of-8 passes, culminating with an eight-yard score to Babb on a 4th-and-1 play. Down just six points with five seconds remaining, Dartmouth’s onside kick was recovered by the Quakers, who knelt down to expire the clock.

The game began ominously for the Big Green when they were forced to punt after a three-and-out possession. The snap went over punter Matthew Kelly’s outstretched arms, and when he recovered, his attempt to boot the ball downfield was blocked by Jim McGoldrick. The ball bounded into the end zone, where McGoldrick was able to pounce on it for a Quaker touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.

Dartmouth did not dwell on the mistake, driving down to the Penn three on its next possession with the big play coming on a 32-yard strike to Murphy. But the Quakers were able to keep the Big Green out of the end zone, and Dartmouth settled for a 20-yard field goal by sophomore Foley Schmidt.

Late in the first quarter, Penn needed just seven plays to move 54 yards — all coming on six rushes — to take a 14-3 lead. Ragone scored the touchdown on a three-yard keeper, while Marsh gobbled up 39 of the yards on three runs.

The Big Green put together their longest drive of the season to date — 13 plays and 74 yards — in the second quarter, with a little help on a pair of personal foul penalties against Penn. Jenny also threw first-down passes on a 4th-and-2 and a 3rd-and-10 deep in Penn territory before lofting a 12-yard toss in the corner of the end zone to Murphy. The Quakers had good coverage on the play, but Murphy was able to bat the ball in the air and catch it while on his back.

While Dartmouth’s drive lasted more than six minutes, Penn nearly matched that when it got the ball back, hanging on to the ball for 5:47. But the Quakers traversed just 38 yards and settled for a 39-yard field goal, giving them a 17-10 lead at the intermission.

Penn began the second half like it ended the first with a Samson field goal, this time from 35 yards to take a 10-point advantage. After the Big Green went three-and-out, the Quakers drove into Dartmouth territory again, only to have Samson miss on a 44-yard field goal try.

The Big Green got good field position late in the third quarter at the Penn 49. Facing a 4th-and-1, Jenny completed a seven-yard pass to Tanner Scott for the first down, then connected with Will Deevy on a 14-yard strike. A handoff to Schwieger turned into a highlight-reel run, breaking several tackles on a 19-yard touchdown jaunt as the third quarter expired, and Dartmouth trailed by just three.

A quick response came when Blackmon broke a 55-yard run down the right sideline down to the Big Green one. Fullback Luke DeLuca then took a handoff and burrowed his way for the touchdown, and Samson’s kick put Penn back up 10 at 27-17.

Juniors Pat Scorah and Charles Bay led the Dartmouth defense with 10 tackles apiece. For Penn, Moore topped the squad with eight tackles and his interception, while Brian Levine had three tackles for a loss, including a sack.

Dartmouth will look to end its winless streak next Saturday at Yale (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) in a noon ball game, while Penn returns home to square off against Bucknell (3-2).