NEW YORK, N.Y. — Pinned at its own one-yard line with 2:15 to play and trailing by two, Dartmouth (3-3, 0-3 Ivy) drove 69 yards before attempting a 47-yard field goal that fell short of the uprights with 21 seconds remaining, allowing Columbia (2-4, 1-2 Ivy) to thrill its crowd at Wien Stadium with a win on homecoming for the first time in 16 years, 9-7, and end a personal seven-game skid against the Big Green.
The Lions rode the right foot of freshman kicker Oren Milstein to victory for the second time this season. Milstein converted field goals from 31, 20 and 33 yards to account for all of Columbia’s points, just as he did in the other Lion victory two weeks ago in a 15-13 triumph over Wagner.
Both teams struggled to put together any consistent offense with rain falling at times amongst the wind gusts that varied from 25 to 40 miles per hour. Dartmouth finished the day with 322 total yards, but only 74 on the ground, while Columbia managed to accumulate 272, though its rushing game found a bit more success with 149 yards on 45 carries. The rushing disparity allowed the Lions to have the ball for nearly 10 minutes more throughout the afternoon. In addition, the Big Green converted just 1-of-17 third downs, while the Lions weren’t much better at 3-of-18.
“This was tremendously disappointing,” said Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens in a postgame press conference. “They outplayed us and shut us down offensively. It was a horrendous offensive performance. We did absolutely nothing for the better part of the game. A couple big plays and that was it. We needed to put points on the board and we didn’t. Defensively, when you give up just nine points, you figure you're going to win most of those games. But Columbia played lights out defense and deserved to win.”
The opening quarter resembled something closer to a sumo wrestling match as the defenses dominated the action with the two teams combining for just 47 yards on 29 plays, although Columbia quarterback Anders Hill completed 4-of-5 passes. The Lions failed to capitalize on a Brock Kenyon interception just before the end of the quarter, but a 34-yard rush by Hill on the next possession set up Milstein’s first field goal of the afternoon from 31 yards out for a 3-0 lead.
Dartmouth appeared to jump start its offense two plays later when junior Jack Heneghan completed a 41-yard bomb to junior Charles Mack, pushing the Big Green into Columbia territory for the first time. But three consecutive incompletions led to a punt, one of 11 on the day for junior Ben Kepley, one shy of the school record.
A pair of batted passes at the line helped to quickly put the ball back in the hands of Heneghan, who went deep again on the first play for a 65-yard touchdown to freshman Hunter Hagdorn. Junior David Smith provided the extra point for a 7-3 lead with 5:03 left in the half, which is how it remained going into the locker room.
Columbia still did not have 100 yards of offense when the second half resumed, but an eight-yard punt into the wind gave the Lions the ball near midfield. A 20-yard run by freshman quarterback Hunter Petlansky on 4th-and-1 not only kept the drive alive, but sent Columbia into the red zone at the Big Green 11. When an eight-yard pass came up short of the first-down marker, Milstein was summoned again for the 20-yard chip shot to cut the deficit to 7-6.
Later in the third quarter, Columbia downed a punt at the Dartmouth nine-yard line. A holding penalty negated a first-down pass, leading to another short field for the Lions following a 37-yard punt to the Big Green 43. An 18-yard Anders Hill pass to Toure Douglas set up Milstein’s third trifecta, this time from 33 yard out, for a 9-7 Columbia lead shortly before the end of the quarter.
Another Big Green punt with the wind early in the fourth quarter nearly turned into disaster for Columbia as the return man tried to field the punt on a bounce, only to have it glance off his fingertips. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, his Lion teammate, Tyler Holmes, was there to cover up the loose ball and prevent the Big Green from taking over deep in Columbia territory.
On the next Dartmouth possession, a pair of first downs sent the Green to the Lion 33 before stalling out. Facing 4th-and-4, Teevens initially had his offense on the field to go for it. But after calling a timeout, he decided to take his chances with Smith kicking a 50-yard field goal with the stiff wind. The kick rode the current and had the distance, but veered wide to the right, leaving Dartmouth still down two with 10:03 to play.
Columbia nearly extended its lead after a 40-yard run by Alan Watson — who finished the day with a game-high 74 yards on 17 carries — but Milstein could not find the range from 38 yards out, pulling his field goal attempt to the left, his first miss after nine straight conversions to start the season.
The two teams traded possessions, with the Lions running nearly five minutes off the clock. Columbia’s punt was downed at the one-yard line, putting Dartmouth’s back against the wall with 2:15 to play. The Big Green went nowhere on the first three plays, but Heneghan completed a clutch 23-yard pass to Hagdorn in the middle of the field to keep Dartmouth’s hopes alive. Junior Emory Thompson caught a pair of passes for 25 more yards, and Hagdorn added a 26-yarder to his name, putting the Green on the Lion 30. After three incompletions, Smith was called upon one last time, and his kick was on target, but short.
Heneghan finished the day just 13-of-38 passing, though he did throw for 242 yards and the one touchdown to Hagdorn, who caught three passes for 114 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career and the most by a Dartmouth receiver this season.
Hill was 12-for-25 for 123 yards for the Lions, plus ran for 30 more yards on 15 carries. Christian Everett was his favorite target, catching four passes for 54 yards.
The Dartmouth defense was led by senior linebacker Folarin Orimolade with 10 tackles, including his Ivy League-leading sixth sack. Freshman Isiah Swann, last week’s FCS Freshman of the Week, had the other Big Green sack on a corner blitz.
Lion linebacker Gianmarco Rea led all players with 11 tackles while the secondary broke up eight pass attempts.
Dartmouth returns to Hanover next weekend for its own homecoming, hosting the co-leader in the Ivy League, Harvard (5-1, 3-0 Ivy). The game is slated for 1:30 p.m. and can be watched exclusively on the Ivy League Digital Network with Adam Giardino and Wayne Young calling the action. Fans can also listen to the duo live locally on 94.5 ESPN Radio (94.5 FM, 1230 and 1400 AM) and free online at 945espn.com.
Notes: In 17 years as Dartmouth’s head coach spanning two stints, Teevens has lost just twice when yielding less than 10 points (24-2) ... his teams are also 0-24 when scoring less than 10 points ... the Big Green had not scored fewer than 10 points in a game since a 30-0 loss to Yale on Oct. 8, 2011, a span of 51 games, a school record ... the 50-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter was the longest attempt by a Dartmouth kicker since a desperation 53-yard try that was blocked as time expired on Sept. 24, 2011 in a 24-21 loss to Sacred Heart ... the last Big Green kicker to convert a field goal from at least 47 yards was Tyler Lavin from 50 yards in a 30-16 victory over Harvard on Nov. 1, 2003 ... that is also the last time Dartmouth beat the Crimson, next week’s opponent.