HANOVER, N.H. — Harvard scored on each of its first four possessions to build a 24-0 lead, then held off host Dartmouth, 30-14, to spoil the Big Green homecoming game and disappoint the largest crowd at Memorial Field (9,142) in 12 years. Collier Winters ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Crimson (5-2, 3-1 Ivy) defeated Dartmouth (4-3, 1-3 Ivy) for the seventh consecutive year.
Big Green junior Conner Kempe threw for a season-high 242 yards and became just the seventh quarterback in school history to surpass 3,000 yards, reaching the milestone with his last completion of the game. But he completed just 15-of-33 tosses on the afternoon, was sacked four times and intercepted thrice, which the Crimson were able to convert into 10 points. Entering the game, Kempe had been sacked just once all season and had avoided going down behind the line for 24 consecutive quarters.
Harvard utilized a balanced attack all day with 233 yards on the ground and another 247 through the air for the most yards (480) for a Dartmouth opponent this season, 323 of which came in the opening 30 minutes. Winters connected on 19-of-31 passes for 212 yards with a 10-yard touchdown to Adam Chrissis, who led the Crimson with seven catches for 86 yards. On the ground, Treavor Scales ran for 124 yards on 18 carries and Gino Gordon 93 yards on 17 rushes, though the latter missed the entire second half with an injury.
The Ivy League’s leading rusher, Big Green junior Nick Schwieger, was held to 69 yards on 16 carries before departing in the third quarter with an injury as well. As a team, Dartmouth managed to run for 112 yards and totaled 354 yards of offense, but only 95 in the decisive first half. Senior Tim McManus led the receiving corps with six catches for a season-high 91 yards, plus ran twice out of the Wildcat formation for 35 yards.
The Crimson put together two lengthy touchdown drives in the first quarter to jump out to a 14-0 lead. After taking the opening kickoff, Harvard marched 78 yards over 14 plays, and after the Dartmouth defense stuffed a 1st-and-goal run at the one, Winters snuck through on the next play for the touchdown. The Crimson started their next drive at their own 13 and originally was stopped at the 29 on a third-down play. But an offside penalty against the Green kept the drive alive, and Harvard took advantage by stringing together 17 plays to traverse 87 yards, the last five on a Winters sweep around the right side.
In the second quarter, Harvard continued pounding the ball down the field, advancing to the Dartmouth 26 before stalling and settling for a career-long 43-yard field goal by David Mothander.
Dartmouth strung together three first downs when trailing 17-0, but on 3rd-and-8 at the Crimson 39, Kempe was picked off by Joshua Boyd who took the ball 45 yards down to the Big Green 26. Harvard needed just five plays to reach the end zone with the 10-yard pass to Chrissis finishing the short drive.
With less than three minutes until halftime, Harvard was forced to punt for the first time. Junior Shawn Abuhoff took advantage of the opportunity and electrified the crowd with an 82-yard return — the fourth longest in Dartmouth history — to put the Green on the board.
But with 2:22 still on the clock, the Crimson drove into the red zone and got another field goal, this time from 27 yards out, to give them a 20-point lead at the half at 27-7.
Kempe was intercepted on his first pass of the second half, but the Dartmouth defense was able to hold off Harvard. But when Bobby Schneider recorded the third Crimson interception, Harvard was able to tack on three more with a 35-yard Mothander field goal.
Dominick Pierre dives into the end zone for his touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Dartmouth missed on a 40-yard field goal just before the end of the third quarter after Schwieger went down, but his back-up, freshman Dominick Pierre, provided a five-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to cap an eight-play, 70-yard drive and make the score 30-14.
The last hope for the Big Green came on what turned out to be their final drive of the day. Needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion, Dartmouth covered 74 yards — including 24 on a terrific catch by junior Michael Reilly on a 4th-and-17 play — down to the Crimson seven before turning the ball over on downs with 2:51 to play. With no timeouts left, Dartmouth could not stop Harvard from running out the clock.
One of the biggest factors in Harvard winning the game was third-down conversions. The Crimson faced a third down play 17 times and were able to come up with a first down 10 times, while Dartmouth was just 1-for-9 on third-down plays.
Dartmouth takes to the road next week for a game at Cornell (2-5, 1-3 Ivy) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Harvard returns home to host Columbia (3-4, 1-3 Ivy) at noon.
Notes: Largest crowd at Memorial Field prior to this game: a 22-19 Dartmouth win over Yale on Oct. 17, 1998 … Kempe has 3,005 passing yards in his career … he also has thrown seven touchdown passes, all coming in the three road games to date … Reilly went over 1,000 receiving yards for his career on his amazing fourth-down catch, and now has 1,008 yards on 61 receptions in his career, the 17th Big Green player to attain the milestone … Schwieger had a string of three consecutive 100-yard rushing games come to an end … Dartmouth’s oppponents have scored on their first drive in all seven games this year … Abuhoff has returned two punts for touchdowns this year, the other a 41-yard score coming in a loss to Yale … the game will not be available for on-demand viewing until Tuesday due to a technical issue.