Defense Dials Up a Shutout on Homecoming
HANOVER, N.H. — Much like the pregame skydivers that delivered the game ball, the Dartmouth football team was flying high on homecoming at Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon, earning a 37-0 shutout victory over the visiting Columbia Lions. Senior Nick Schwieger led the Big Green offense with 157 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries while junior Greg Patton ran for two more scores as Dartmouth (2-4, 1-2 Ivy) snapped a four-game skid with its biggest shutout win since 1996 — a 40-0 victory over the Lions.
Columbia (0-6, 0-3 Ivy), playing without starting quarterback Sean Brackett, struggled to string together any offense with just 148 yards and eight first downs. Brackett’s replacement, Jerry Bell, completed just 5-of-20 passes for 36 yards with a pair of interceptions, both by Big Green sophomore linebacker Bronson Green.
|Nick Schwieger" height="400" width="300">|
|Nick Schwieger added three touchdowns to his career total, leaving him all alone in second on the Big Green all-time list with 23.|
For Dartmouth, senior quarterback Conner Kempe quietly put together his best game of the season, connecting on 15-of-24 passes for 143 yards and one interception. His work through the air opened up the ground game, allowing Schwieger to post the 13th 100-yard game of his career and match his career high with three touchdowns. As a team, the Big Green racked up a season-high 267 rushing yards with sophomore Dominick Pierre adding 67 on 15 carries and Patton — out of the Wildcat formation — 43 on nine runs. For the day, Dartmouth had 426 yards and held the ball for nearly twice as long as Columbia (39:05 to 20:55).
As stout as the offense was, the Dartmouth defense stole the show. The only three times Columbia found itself in Big Green territory came after two turnovers and a punt. The first of those turnovers came on the opening kickoff, giving the Lions the ball on the Dartmouth 32. One two-yard run and three incomplete passes later, the tone had been set by the Dartmouth defense.
Kempe immediately proceeded to march his unit 70 yards in 12 plays for the score, which came in the form of a five-yard run by Patton. The longest gains during the drive came on two passes, one an 11-yarder to Schwieger, and the other a 20-yarder to rookie Bo Patterson. Senior Foley Schmidt provided the PAT for a 7-0 Dartmouth lead less than seven minutes into the game.
A Columbia three-and-out forced a punting situation, but disaster struck the Lions when the snap sailed over punter Paul Delaney’s head into the end zone. Delaney scooped up the loose ball and decided to run out the back for a safety rather than risk a punt with the Big Green closing in on him.
The score remained at 9-0 for more than a full quarter before Green recorded his first pick of the day, returning it 14 yards to the Columbia 28. Schwieger took four straight handoffs, the last an 18-yard gallop into the end zone, for a 16-0 lead.
Dartmouth quickly broke the game wide open in the second half with two touchdowns in little more than five minutes. Columbia turned the ball over on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter when senior Shawn Abuhoff stripped the ball from Marcorus Garrett during an 18-yard run. Four plays later, Patton found a hole through the right side and sprinted 16 yards for a touchdown.
|Conner Kempe" height="300" width="400">|
|Conner Kempe was on target Saturday, completing 15-of-24 passes to complement the strong running game.|
Abuhoff forced another fumble on Columbia’s next drive, giving Dartmouth the ball on the Lion 41. Schwieger posted two nine-yard runs before breaking off a 23-yard touchdown run, and the Big Green suddenly enjoyed a 30-0 advantage.
When the Lions failed to get a first down, Delaney booted a punt that bounded an extra 32 yards for a 67-yard punt down to the Dartmouth six. A holding penalty pinned the Green on the three, and the Columbia defense came up with a big stop to force a punt from the end zone. The Lions took over at the Dartmouth 39, but on the first play, Green recorded his second interception, setting up a nine-play, 58-yard drive that finished off the scoring. Schwieger plunged in from a yard out for the six points, and Schmidt added the PAT.
The final scoring opportunity for Columbia came when Nick Mistretta made a terrific one-handed interception of Kempe’s final pass of the day in the fourth quarter. A pair of long gains for Garrett put the Lions in the red zone, only to have the Dartmouth defense make a stand and hold Columbia at the three, with freshman Andrew Donahue making the final stop on 4th-and-1.
Dartmouth heads to Ivy co-leader Harvard (5-1, 3-0 Ivy) next Saturday for a night game at 6 p.m. to be televised by FCS Atlantic. Columbia begins a two-game homestand on Saturday, beginning with Yale (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) at noon.
Notes: Green is the first Dartmouth player with two interceptions in a game since Ian Wilson ’08 plucked two wayward Holy Cross passes back in 2008 … the last Dartmouth shutout came in the final game of the 2010 season, a 31-0 victory at Princeton … the Big Green had not run for five touchdowns in a game in almost 29 years (six vs. Columbia in a 56-41 win on Nov. 6, 1982) … since 1975, Dartmouth has had five or more rushing scores four times; three have come against Columbia … the last time Dartmouth recorded a safety came against Princeton in the 2009 season finale … the last time the Big Green had the ball for at least 39 minutes came in a 44-14 win over Bucknell on Oct. 3, 1992 … no Dartmouth opponent had completed a worse percentage (31.0) of passes since Princeton hit on 7-of-25 (28.0 pct.) on Nov. 23, 1996 … last team to post eight or fewer first downs? Holy Cross in 1992 in a 48-0 Green win … Columbia did not have a single flag thrown against it, the first Dartmouth opponent in at least 36 years to get off scot-free for an entire game … Schmidt converted a career-high five PATs.