A 6-4, 225-pound quarterback from Atherton, California, Heneghan led the Big Green to a thrilling, 22-21 victory over then-No. 22 New Hampshire on Saturday night at Memorial Field, ending a 20-game winless streak that dated back 40 years. Trailing by 14 points entering the fourth quarter, Dartmouth closed the gap to 11 with a 28-yard field goal early in the stanza. Heneghan then threw a pair of short touchdown passes in the final five minutes to pull off the upset against the Big Green’s in-state rival.
Heneghan, making his first career start with just five collegiate completions to his credit, struggled for the first three quarters, connecting on just 12-of-31 throws for 115 yards with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. But he showed great poise in the decisive fourth quarter, completing 10-of-15 passes for 114 yards and the two scores.
With 7:33 to play, the Dartmouth offense took the field at the UNH 44 after a 42-yard interception return by junior Colin Boit. The game hung in the balance when the Big Green were faced with a 4th-and-1 at the 23, but Heneghan hit senior Houston Brown on a quick route, which turned into a 19-yard gain for 1st-and-goal at the four. On the very next play, Heneghan — who ran for 80 yards on 14 carries as well — looked like he would try to take it in himself, only to pull the ball back short of the line of scrimmage and shot put it to junior Emory Thompson for the touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, however, leaving Dartmouth down by five at 21-16.
The defense did its job, holding the Wildcats without a first down. Dartmouth nearly fumbled away its game-winning opportunity when the punt was muffed, but senior Lucas Bavaro was able to corral the loose ball at the Big Green 20. Heneghan quickly went to work, hitting passes of 11 and 24 yards on the first two plays to push into New Hampshire territory. Then on 3rd-and-7, he hit Thompson again, this time on a back-shoulder route, for 37 yards to the UNH five-yard line. Two plays later, Heneghan pulled off another deke at the one before finding junior Charles Mack in the end zone to give Dartmouth the victory.
This is the eighth Gold Helmet earned by a Big Green player in the past eight seasons. Running back Nick Schwieger ’12 took home the honor once in each of his final three years, quarterback Dalyn Williams ’16 garnered the award twice (2014, ’15), and linebacker Will McNamara ’16 (2013) and wide receiver Victor Williams ’16 (2015) earned it once each.
Dartmouth (1-0) travels to Holy Cross (1-2) on Saturday to take on the Crusaders at Fitton Field at 1:05 p.m. The game will be streamed live online for free on the Patriot League Network and shown in the Worcester area on Charter TV3. Dartmouth fans can listen to Adam Giardino and Wayne Young ’72 call the action on 94.5 ESPN Radio (94.5 FM, 1230 and 1400 AM) in the Upper Valley or online around the globe at www.945espn.com.
Notes: Dartmouth had not won a game when trailing by 14 points since a 38-35 victory over Yale two years ago … the last time the Big Green trailed by 14 or more in the fourth quarter and still won the game came in the final game of the 1999 season. Princeton led Dartmouth, 18-0, before the Green scored three touchdowns in the final quarter to squeak out a 19-18 triumph.