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Football Stopped by #24 Holy Cross, 34-14

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Junior Tanner Scott     By John and Matt Risley
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WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph outdueled Dartmouth sophomore signal-caller Conner Kempe on Saturday afternoon, leading the 24th-ranked Crusaders to a 34-14 victory at Fitton Field. Kempe actually threw for more yards (312 to 264), but Randolph, a Walter Payton Award candidate, was more accurate completing 26-of-36 passes for his 264 yards — his 36th straight 200-yard game — with three touchdowns to please the homecoming crowd.

Kempe equaled Randolph’s completions, connecting on 26-of-45 to post a career high in passing yardage with a pair of scoring strikes. Dartmouth finished the day with a season-best 384 total yards of offense, but wasted too many scoring opportunities inside the Holy Cross 30. Junior receiver Tanner Scott had a career day with seven catches for 126 yards, including his first career touchdown, while tight end John Gallagher also had a career-best seven receptions for 44 yards.

Randolph quickly maneuvered the Crusaders down the field on the first possession of the game, connecting on all five of his passes for 62 yards, the final completion being a 30-yard touchdown toss to Charles McCall. On the extra point attempt, however, the holder bobbled the snap and never had a chance to advance the ball, keeping the score at 6-0 just under four minutes into the contest.

Later in the period, the Crusaders were turned away in the red zone when Rob Dornfried missed a 29-yard field goal into the wind.

Dartmouth did successfully pull off a fake punt in the first quarter from their own 39, with punter Matthew Kelly completing an eight-yard pass to Gallagher for the first down. But when the Big Green went for it on a 4th-and-3 at the Crusader 36, Kempe’s pass zipped past the outstretched hands of senior receiver Niles Murphy.

Holy Cross took advantage of the turnover on downs, traveling the 64 yards in 10 plays for its second touchdown of the day. Eddie Houghton carried the ball for the final five yards and the score, and Dornfried was able to kick the extra point through the uprights for a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Both teams failed to move the much on their next possessions before Dartmouth drove down the Crusader 15 late in the first half. But a holding penalty and a sack pushed the Big Green out of field goal range, leaving them staring at a 4th-and-27 which they could not convert.

Once again Holy Cross was able to convert a defensive stop into a touchdown, in spite of the fact it had just 1:24 on the clock and 68 yards to travel. A 42-yard pass from Randolph to Bill Edger took care of most of the distance, and Matt Bellomo plunged in from three yards out for the six points. Dornfried’s extra point put the Crusasders up 20 at the half.

The second half began with Dartmouth receiving, and again the Green were able to move into Crusader space. A 17-yard screen pass to Schwieger gave Dartmouth a first down at the Holy Cross 24, but a holding penalty once again undermined the drive.

Holy Cross took over at the 20 after the punt went into the end zone, and marched the 80 yards in 10 plays. Randolph moved out of the pocket to get more time, and it paid off when he found a wide-open Luke Chmielinski in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Kempe was able to move the chains yet again, but once inside the Crusader 30, yardage was difficult to come by. Dartmouth failed to get the yard on a 4th-and-1 at the 21, just short by inches. But the defense came up with the first turnover of the day when safety Anthony Diblasi recorded his first career interception.

Holy Cross returned the favor on the second play of the fourth quarter when Michael Wright picked off a Kempe pass at the Crusader 20 and returned it 53 yards. Randolph was able to turn the turnover into six points on a two-yard scoring strike to Nick Cole with 9:46 left in the game. Dornfried’s extra point sailed through to put Holy Cross up 34-0.

Dartmouth finally was able to push through for a touchdown with 4:50 to play on a 16-yard pass from Kempe to the corner of the end zone where Scott jumped over the Crusader defender to pull in the pass. Sophomore Foley Schmidt provided the point after to make it a 34-7 game.

After the Crusaders went three-and-out, Kempe navigated the offense back into the red zone, then tossed a 16-yard touchdown to Murphy in the same corner of the end zone as the first scoring pass.

Dartmouth returns to Hanover next Saturday for its homecoming game against Columbia at 1:30 p.m.