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Dartmouth Football Earns Victory in Season Opener

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By Dartmouth
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Sept. 17, 2005

HANOVER, N.H. - Dartmouth kicked off the football season this afternoon with a hard fought 26-21 victory over Colgate at Memorial Field. The victory gave the Big Green its first 1-0 start since the 1997 season, and broke a six-game losing streak against the Raiders.

Dartmouth led by as many as ten points on two different occasions, but couldn't ice the game until the defense stopped one last drive by Colgate on a fourth and one situation with 1:15 remaining in the game.

Both defenses started strongly, keeping the game scoreless at the end of the first quarter. Colgate broke the ice on the first play of the second, capping an 18-play, 75-yard drive with two yard plunge into the endzone by senior fullback Ben Evans.

After Dartmouth was forced to punt on its next posession, the Big Green defense took control. Senior Mike Rabil (Gaithersburg, Md.) sacked Colgate's Lee Sloan, forcing the football loose in the process. Senior linebacker Josh Dooley (Tuttle, Okla.) picked up the pigskin and ran it 29 yards into the endzone to tie the score, 7-7.

"That was an emotional swing and a boost," head coach Buddy Teevens said. "(Defensive Coordinator) Chris Wilkerson's done a great job with the defensive package."

"With the 4-3 formation we were more aggressive," Dooley said.

On Colgate's next possession, senior Steve Jensen (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) intercepted a pass and returned it to the three-yard line to set up Dartmouth's next score. On the following play, senior Charlie Rittgers (Lebanon, Ohio) completed a three-yard toss to sophomore tight end Mark Brogna (Pleasanton, Calif.) to give Dartmouth the 14-7 lead.

The Big Green would tack on a field goal on its next possession, and take a 17-7 lead into the half.

The third quarter got off to an rough start for Dartmouth when Rittgers had a pass intercepted by senior Jared Nepa, who returned it 39 yards before being forced out of bounds. Five plays later, Colgate made the score 17-14 when freshman Rich Rosabella forced his way into the endzone on fourth and goal from the one-yard line.

Later in the third the teams traded interceptions on back-to-back plays, and Dartmouth was able to capitalize when senior Jason Bash (Ramona, Calif.) scampered into the endzone untouched to make the lead 24-14.

Each team was forced to punt on its initial possession in the fourth quarter, but the Raiders would close to within a field goal on their second. Freshman Jordan Scott capped the 71-yard drive with a 33-yard run into the endzone, making the score 24-21.

With 5:51 remaining, Dartmouth downed a punt inside the one-yard line of Colgate. On second down, quarterback Mike Saraceno slipped in the endzone, giving Dartmouth a safety with just over five minutes left in the game.

"I thought our special teams were very solid," Teevens said.

Although the Raiders outgained the Big Green in total offense, 262-193, and won the possession battle, 35:16-24:44, Dartmouth forced four turnovers to just a pair for Colgate. The defense also stopped the visitors twice on fourth down, and got the key safety late in the game.

Rittgers completed 12-of-25 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown for the Big Green, while senior Ikechi Ogbonna (Bronx, N.Y.) ran for 48 yards on nine carries. Jensen led the way for the defense with nine tackles, one interception, and two passes broken up.

Dartmouth hits the road next week, traveling to Durham, N.H. to face in-state rival New Hampshire. Game time is set for 12 p.m.