HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth senior Charlie Miller blocked a 22-yard field goal with 2:19 remaining, and classmate Jeremiah Douchee swatted away a desperation 56-yard attempt on the final play to preserve the Big Green's 20-17 victory over visiting Towson on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field. With the win, Dartmouth improves to 3-2 on the season and has beaten its last seven non-conference opponents. The Tigers suffered their fourth straight loss to fall to 1-5.
The Big Green defense bent a few times throughout the day, yielding a season-high 470 yards to Towson, but interceptions by Miller and freshman Isiah Swann, along with two fourth-down stops allowed Dartmouth to fend off the visitors from the Colonial Athletic Association. Tiger freshman running back Deshaun Wethington enjoyed his first 100-yard game, going for 145 yards on 27 carries, including a one-yard score, and quarterback Ellis Knudson threw for 305 yards by completing 29-of-45 throws with a touchdown for Towson.
The offensive numbers were a bit more modest for Dartmouth with a season-low 253 yards. Junior Ryder Stone ran for 90 yards on just 14 carries to lead the ground game, and junior Jack Heneghan connected of 14-of-21 passes for 96 yards. The lone touchdown pass came on a lateral to senior Abrm McQuarters, who found sophomore Drew Hunnicutt wide open in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown, which turned out to be the decisive score.
The lone Big Green turnover on the afternoon — an interception by linebacker Diondre Wallace that he returned 20 yards to the Dartmouth 11 — set up Wethington’s one-yard touchdown to close the gap to 20-17 late in the third quarter.
After the two sides traded punts, Dartmouth senior Ben Kepley dropped another punt that pinned Towson at its own one-yard line. The Tigers were unfazed, even converting a 4th-and-1 at its own 27 to keep the drive alive. Towson covered 94 yards on the possession, taking more than nine minutes off the game clock. But on 1st-and-goal from the five, the Big Green defense stiffened and stuffed two runs for no gain and forced an incompletion. The Tigers lined up for a 22-yard field goal attempt from the left hash mark only to have Miller sneak in on the inside and deflect the kick with his left hand.
With Towson down to two timeouts, the Big Green got one first down and needed just one more to get into the victory formation, but they came up a yard short. The Tigers got the ball back at their own 28 with 33 seconds on the clock following the punt, and completed a pair of passes to advance the ball to the Dartmouth 39 with one second showing. That was enough to get kicker Aidan O’Neill on the field to try the 56-yard field goal, but Douchee made sure the ball never got a chance to reach the uprights by swatting it out of the air.
The game began ominously for Dartmouth as the shotgun snap on the first play from scrimmage sailed over Heneghan’s head down to the two-yard line. Midway through the first quarter, Towson took a 7-0 lead on a Knudson 15-yard touchdown pass to Christian Summers, who hauled in 11 passes for 140 yards on the day.
The Big Green responded by driving into the red zone as Heneghan completed all six of his passes during the possession. Junior David Smith came on to kick a 25-yard field goal to put Dartmouth on the board.
Swann picked off a Knudson pass at the Big Green 43-yard line early in the second quarter to set up Dartmouth’s first touchdown, a four-yard run by sophomore Vito Penza. His first career foray into the end zone gave the Green a 10-7 lead with just over nine minutes left in the half.
Smith added a career-long 38-yard field goal with 56 seconds left to make it a 13-7 Dartmouth advantage at the intermission.
Towson came out of the locker room looking to put a dent into its deficit, and O’Neill did just that by splitting the uprights on a 36-yard field goal. But Dartmouth quickly answered thanks to a 40-yard gallop by Stone followed by McQuarters’ first career pass attempt on the halfback option for the 23-yard touchdown to Hunnicutt, boosting the lead to 20-10.
As Towson nearly doubled up Dartmouth in yardage on the day, it did on first downs, 26-13. The Tigers also ran 83 plays compared to just 55 for the Green, and had the ball on offense for nearly six more minutes. Both teams struggled on third downs with Towson converting 4-of-16 and Dartmouth just 2-of-12.
Swann led the Big Green defense with 13 tackles to go with his first career interception and three pass breakups from his cornerback position as Dartmouth recorded 11 PBUs. The top tackler for Towson was Jordan Mynatt with nine, including two for a loss.
Penalties proved to be a detriment to the Tigers throughout the day as they were whistled for nine fouls that cost them 85 yards, while the Big Green had just one holding call against them.
Dartmouth (0-2 in the Ivy League) gets back into Ivy League play next Saturday when it travels to Columbia (1-4, 0-2) for a game televised at Wien Stadium by ONE World Sports at 1:30 p.m. The game will also be simulcast on the Ivy League Digital Network, and Big Green fans can listen to Adam Giardino and Wayne Young ’72 call the action locally on 94.5 ESPN Radio or online at www.945espn.com.
Notes: Dartmouth has not blocked two field goals in the same game in at least 42 years ... this was the first-ever meeting between Dartmouth and Towson on the gridiron ... the Big Green have won their last seven contests when playing an opponent for the first time with the last loss coming in 1951 against Fordham ... Dartmouth is now 27-26-2 all-time against CAA teams ... Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens is now 54-10-1 at Dartmouth when leading at the half and 48-13-2 when the Big Green force more turnovers ... senior Folarin Orimolade had the lone sack of the game, ending the first half, giving him 19.5 in his career, fifth all-time at Dartmouth.