HANOVER, N.H. — Senior running back Nick Schwieger ran for 175 yards on 20 carries, two of which went for touchdowns, as Dartmouth won its season opener for the second straight year in a 37-20 Big Green triumph over visiting Colgate at Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon. A crowd of 5,616 witnessed Schwieger surpass 2,000 rushing yards in his career, just the second Big Green back to achieve the milestone, sending Dartmouth (1-0) to just its second win in the last 12 meetings with the Raiders (1-2).
Schwieger piled up nearly half of his yards during the third quarter (81), including a 46-yard sprint down the left sideline. But his milestone run came on a nine-yarder late in the fourth quarter shortly before he scored the final points of the day with a two-yard burst. Schwieger finished his day with 2,015 career yards, just 238 yards shy of breaking the school record held by Al Rosier ’91. Complementing Schwieger in the backfield was sophomore Dominick Pierre, who ran 15 times for 65 yards as the Big Green racked up 258 yards on the ground.
Colgate, playing without All-American tailback Nate Eachus who was scratched from the lineup 10 minutes before kickoff, relied heavily on quarterback Gavin McCarney. The sophomore enjoyed a fine day statistically, completing 26-of-34 passes for an even 200 yards while also leading the team in rushing with 122 yards on 23 carries with all three Raider touchdowns.
In the end, it did not matter that Colgate held the advantage in total yards gained, 384-320, and time of possession (7:42). When Dartmouth had a scoring opportunity, it capitalized by putting points on the board the five times it advanced to the red zone. The Raiders, meanwhile, converted just three-of-six opportunities inside the Big Green 20.
“‘All wins are good ones, but there is a lot of area for improvements, so I would say we’re happy but not satisfied,” head coach Buddy Teevens stated in a press conference after the contest. “We didn’t get ourselves off the field defensively, and that was a disappointment. But the nice thing about our guys is that they have the maturity to recognize that. They are excited about the win, certainly, but know they have more work to do.”
Tim McManus grabbed a 19-yard touchdown toss from senior Conner Kempe in the third quarter.
The emotion of the start of the season carried Dartmouth during the first possessions of the game. The defense stopped the Raiders cold on three quick plays, including a sack by senior Connor Phillips, then the offense covered 59 yards in eight plays as Schwieger and Pierre accounted for 50 of those yards. It was Pierre, however, who had the honor of traversing the final nine yards for the score, and senior Foley Schmidt’s extra point made it a 7-0 game barely six minutes into the game.
Colgate answered directly to tie the game, gaining at least five yards on eight of nine plays during its possession with a mixture of runs and passes. On the last of those plays, McCarney bolted on a 12-yard touchdown keeper.
On the second play of the second quarter, Teevens turned to Schmidt for a 41-yard field goal, which he provided with plenty of room to spare. After a three-and-out for the Raiders, Schmidt finished off a 12-play drive with another field goal, this time from 32 yards, for a 13-7 Big Green lead.
A 37-yard kickoff return by the Raiders’ Nat Bellamy allowed Colgate to start in enemy territory on the final possession of the half. But after advancing as far as the four-yard line, the Raiders were forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal attempt. Senior Shawn Abuhoff managed to turn the corner and block the kick, however, to give Dartmouth a lift heading into the locker room and preserve the 13-7 advantage.
The Big Green took control of the game in the third quarter as Schwieger piled up the yards with 31 on his first three carries of the second half. Schmidt converted another 41-yard field goal, his career-high third of the game, for a nine-point lead, only to have Colgate rattle off an 11-play, 67-yard touchdown drive. McCarney’s seven-yard scamper and Joe Uglietto’s PAT made it a two-point game, 16-14.
Schwieger provided his 46-yard run on the next possession, and after a key 10-yard pass from senior Conner Kempe to Pierre on a 3rd-and-10, Schwieger burrowed his way for a four-yard touchdown and some breathing room at 23-14.
Brendan Murray didn't let a little thing like a missing helmet stop him from trying to return the blocked punt.
The decisive play of the game came when the Raiders were forced to punt from their own 33. Senior Alex Shulman was able to penetrate the protection and completely block the punt, and senior Brendan Murray recovered. If his helmet had not come off, Dartmouth would have had a touchdown on the play as Murray lateraled at the five to senior Joey Casey, who waltzed into the end zone. It turned out to be of no consequence as Kempe lofted a 19-yard scoring strike on the next play to senior Tim McManus in the back left corner with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
Colgate continued to pick up yardage, pushing down to the Dartmouth 15, only to have Phillips jar the ball loose from running back Danny Epstein. Sophomore linebacker Bronson Green pounced on the ball to account for the only turnover of the game. After Dartmouth punted for the only time all afternoon, the Raiders did not let another scoring opportunity slip away as they orchestrated a 10-play, 48-yard drive with McCarney scoring his third touchdown of the day on a two-yard run. Needing a two-point conversion to make it a one-possession game, McCarney came up just short of the goal line on a quarterback sneak.
With just 5:51 left in the game and trailing by 10 at 30-20, the Raiders attempted an onside kick, only to see the ball sail out of bounds, giving the Big Green the ball at the Colgate 39. Pierre rumbled for 20 yards before yielding to Schwieger who put the game away with his two-yard touchdown.
Green, Casey and senior Luke Hussey were defensive stars for the Big Green as each had at least 10 tackles. Phillips came up with some of the day’s biggest plays, though, with the only sack of the game and the forced fumble.
Dartmouth returns to the gridiron next Saturday when it travels to Sacred Heart for a contest at 1 p.m. Colgate will complete a three-game road swing with a night game next week at Towson with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.