HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth finished off its first winning season in 13 years by shutting out Princeton on Saturday afternoon, 31-0. Junior Nick Schwieger ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns to help the Big Green end the season 6-4 overall and 3-4 in the Ivy League, while the Tigers (1-9, 0-7 Ivy) failed to win a conference game for the first time since 1973.
Schwieger ran 26 times to post his sixth 100-yard game of the year, while his career-high three scores gave him 14 for the season, tying a Dartmouth single-season record. Quarterback Conner Kempe completed 11-of-16 passes for 98 yards, while backup Dan Rooney threw just one pass that turned into a 69-yard touchdown to senior Tim McManus, the longest pass of the season for the Big Green.
While the Dartmouth defense allowed 284 yards to the Tigers, it found ways to keep the points off the board. Princeton muffed a snap on a 24-yard field goal try near the end of the second quarter, allowing the Big Green to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room (their first halftime lead all season). Then late in the fourth quarter, junior cornerback Shawn Abuhoff picked off a Tiger pass at the one-yard line to thwart the last-gasp effort to deny the first Dartmouth shutout since the final game of the 1996 season, which coincidentally was also at Princeton.
Dartmouth put its first points on the board with a methodical 14-play, 82-yard drive that lasted nearly half of the first quarter. The Big Green converted three third downs during the drive, and Schwieger capped it off with a six-yard burst through the left side of the line.
A sack by Dartmouth defensive end Teddy Reed was followed by another sack by senior Charles Bay and junior Royce Egeolu, backing up the Tigers to their own six to end the first quarter. Junior Shawn Abuhoff returned the punt 11 yards to give the Big Green a short field at the Princeton 34, and seven rushes later, Schwieger was in the end zone again on a three-yard run. The point after was provided by junior Foley Schmidt to make it a 14-0 game with 11:50 left in the half.
Princeton had a golden opportunity to put points on the board late in the half when Weston Palmer intercepted a Kempe pass near midfield and made a break for the end zone. Kempe kept his wits about him, however, and sprinted downfield to make a diving tackle at the Tiger 18. It proved to be important as the defense stalled Princeton at the seven, and the Tigers’ 24-yard field goal try never got off the ground as the snap was bobbled. Dartmouth did not press its luck and merely took a knee to bring the half to a close.
The second half began with a 53-yard kickoff return by Abuhoff and another extended Dartmouth drive, although it covered just 33 yards. The Big Green ran 13 plays, and only a pair of false starts after reaching the two-yard line kept the Big Green out of the end zone. Schmidt provided a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-0.
A Kempe 35-yard strike to junior receiver Michael Reilly on the second play of the fourth quarter set up Schwieger for his third touchdown run of the day, this time from five yards out.
Sophomore cornerback Chase Womack helped preserve the shutout when he picked off a Drew Ellis pass at the Big Green 15. Three plays later, Rooney rifled a pass 25 yards across the middle to McManus who bolted for the end zone. His fellow receiver, senior Tanner Scott, provided the final block to pave the way for the final score of the game with 9:52 to play.
The defense continued to come up with big plays to keep Princeton off the board. First, senior Charles Bay ripped the ball out of the hand of Tiger quarterback Connor Kelley on a 4th-and-11 near midfield. Then the final Princeton drive ended at the Dartmouth one-yard line when Abuhoff picked off the Kelley pass, thanks in part to the heavy pressure applied by Bay.
Bay finished the day with a season-high 10 tackles to lead the Dartmouth defense along with fellow senior Luke Hussey.
Kelley finished the afternoon 12-of-21 passing for 117 yards and one interception. The running game that amassed 128 yards was led by Akil Sharp with 58 yards on 10 carries.
Dartmouth ends the season in fifth place in the Ivy League with Penn winning its second straight title with a perfect 7-0 mark. Harvard, Yale and Brown all tied for second at 5-2 with the Big Green in fifth place by itself at 3-4. Columbia went 2-5 to finish sixth, Cornell 1-6 and Princeton 0-7 to round out the standings.
The senior football players take a moment to enjoy the Governor’s Cup after the win.