Senior Day in Hanover
This year’s crop of seniors can match the record attained by last year’s acclaimed group (29-11) simply by winning their final two games. Dartmouth will have to start by besting a Brown team that is coming off a 27-22 victory over Yale.
The Big Green have enjoyed success recently against the Bears, winning the last three encounters, including last year’s 34-18 triumph, which was not as close as the score would indicate. Dartmouth jumped out to a 21-6 lead by halftime and 34-6 advantage through three quarters before Brown tacked on a pair of late touchdowns in the final five minutes.
Dartmouth entered last week’s game at Cornell having dropped four of its last five contests, but called upon some of the fourth-quarter magic it mustered in the season opener, rallying from a 10-point deficit in the final 15 minutes for a 17-13 win.
Not surprisingly, the return of a solid run game helped the Big Green get back in the win column with 179 yards on the ground. Sophomore RB Miles Smith did the heavy lifting with a career-high 25 carries and his first 100-yard game (119), earning the weekly Gold Helmet Award in the process. His one-yard plunge into the end zone early in the fourth quarter got the comeback going.
The passing game was efficient as QB Jack Heneghan completed two-thirds of his passes (22-33) for 226 yards and a score. His penultimate pass was the game-winner, hitting WR Charles Mack in the end zone from nine yards out with 6:42 to play. Mack has just 12 catches on the year, but three have gone for touchdowns.
Heneghan has spread the ball around this year with WR Hunter Hagdorn leading the team with 37 catches and 489 yards, the latter figure a school record for a freshman. There are also Drew Hunnicutt (29 for 345, 2 TD) and Emory Thompson (22 for 303, 1 TD), and all three had at least five catches at Cornell.
The defense continued its solid play, limiting the Big Red to 270 total yards, 50 on the ground. Senior LB Folarin Orimolade led the charge with six tackles, including two key sacks, plus a forced fumble in the fourth quarter that set up the winning drive. The preseason All-American is third nationally in fumbles forced (4) and fourth in sacks (1.0 per game).
No less than 13 players have at least 20 tackles, and 17 have pitched in on at least one stop behind the line of scrimmage. That depth has come in handy as injuries to the defense has forced the Big Green to dip deep into their reserves. Yet they have managed to remain among the top 15 in the FCS in fewest points allowed (18.9, 14th).
Penalties had been few and far between in recent weeks, with just seven for 62 yards in the previous three games. But at Cornell, Dartmouth was whistled for 11 penalties for a whopping 102 yards, both figures of which were the highest since the last time the two teams clashed (15 for 118).
David Smith has been quite reliable inside of 40 yards on his field goals, converting 7-of-8 from that range with three misses beyond. Ben Kepley didn’t see much action at Cornell, but his two punts averaged 38.0 yards, pushing him past 7,000 punting yards, just the second Big Green punter to surpass the mark.
Scouting the Bears
Brown has been playing tough the last few weeks, winning two of its last three games, all of which have been decided by no more than a touchdown. Both victories came at home, however, in a 28-21, double-overtime triumph over Cornell on a rainy, blustery day, and a 27-22 defeat of Yale last week.
But the road has been a problem for the Bears with their two most lopsided losses coming away from their home stadium — 28-13 at Rhode Island and 31-7 at Princeton.
Brown leads the Ivy League in fewest yards allowed, yet has not held an opponent to less than 21 points all season. Offensively, Brown has split time at quarterback due to an injury to Kyle Moreno, who completed 51.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and five interceptions in five games.
Thomas Linta has stepped up and performed well, though he has been intercepted seven times with just four scoring strikes. But last week he led the Bears to the victory over Yale by completing 19-of-33 throws for 194 yards and a TD.
The running game has featured Johnny Pena all year, and his 362 yards tops the team. Lately, freshman Livingstone Harriott (despite being listed as a wide receiver) has provided a jolt in the backfield, averaging 6.0 yards per carry on the season and amassing 92 yards on just 12 carries last week.
Brown has one of the league’s top receivers in Alexander Jette, he of the 45 receptions for 481 yards and three touchdowns. The Dartmouth defense will need to be wary of another senior wideout in Garrett Swanky (30 catches, 287 yards) and tight end Anton Casey (24, 193).
On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Will Twyman has been all over the field, ranking third in the conference with 78 tackles while contributing eight tackles for a loss, two interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery. Senior end Richard Jarvis has been a terror with six sacks among his Ivy-best 15.5 tackles for a loss, and he has also forced three fumbles.
Brown will come after opposing offenses as evidenced by their 70 tackles for a loss and 23 sacks as a defensive unit, both of which are tops in the league.
Ryan Kopec has taken over the punting duties the last four games, dropping eight of his 24 boots inside the 20. And after going 1-for-10 on field goals, the Bears found a placekicker last week in Ben Rosenblatt who converted a pair of chip shots and all three PATs after joining the team 10 days prior.
Head coach Phil Estes, now in his 19th season guiding the program, is the second winningest coach in Brown football history with a record of 111-76. He has three Ivy League crowns to his name, including the Bears’ first-ever outright title in 2005, and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award each of those years. Raised in Laconia, New Hampshire, Estes is a member of the Laconia High School Hall of Fame. He went on to become a first team All-New England and Yankee Conference selection as a senior at UNH before graduating in 1980.
Last Year vs. Brown
It took Dartmouth a little while to get going, gaining just two first downs on its first three drives. But when Brian Grove started the fourth drive with a 61-yard touchdown sprint, the Big Green were off and running, opening up a 21-6 lead by halftime and a 34-6 advantage after three quarters. Kyle Bramble and Ryder Stone also had rushing touchdowns, and the latter added an 89-yard kickoff return. The ground game helped gloss over one of Dalyn Williams’ worst games at Dartmouth, throwing three interceptions, losing 25 yards rushing and completing just 11 passes for 110 yards and a score. Overall it was a sloppy game with Brown turning the ball over seven times and the Big Green four. The Bears scored twice in the final five minutes to make the final score a bit more respectable.
Running for Miles
So 119 yards doesn’t quite add up to a mile, but that total is what Miles ran for at Cornell. That’s Miles Smith, the sophomore running back who had never run more than 15 times in a college game, nor topped 100 yards. Smith took the ball 25 times and bulled his way for a one-yard touchdown. His more important run, however, was probably his longest of the game, 19 yards on 3rd-and-10 in the fourth quarter that led to the winning score on the very next play. For the season, Smith is fourth in the league with 61.8 yards per game and leads the loop with an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
Third Gold Helmet Award This Year
Sophomore Miles Smith was chosen as the New England Football Writers’ Association Gold Helmet Award winner for his performance in the 17-13 win at Cornell on Nov. 5. His 25 carries for 119 yards were not just peronal best totals, but also season highs by any Dartmouth player this year. Other Big Green honorees this year have been senior safety Charlie Miller after the Towson game on Oct. 15 and junior QB Jack Heneghan following the season-opening comeback victory over New Hampshire.
With the Flo for Ivy Defensive POTW
The Ivy League awarded LB Folarin “Flo” Orimolade its Defensive Player of the Week award for his play in the 17-13 win at Cornell on Nov. 5. The senior had two key sacks in the first quarter among his team-high six stops, plus forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to Dartmouth’s game-winning touchdown. This is the second weekly defensive award for Orimolade this season, and fourth for a Big Green player.
Big Battle Goes Green Again
With the 17-13 victory at Cornell, Dartmouth has now defeated the Big Red in the last eight meetings. While it is the longest current streak against any Ivy opponent, it is just the third longest for the Big Green against Cornell in the 100 times they have played each other. Dartmouth won 11 in a row from 1968-78, and nine from 1955-63. The longest Big Green win streak against an Ancient Eight team is 15 against Brown (1960-74), while the longest undefeated streak came against Columbia at 26 games (1972-97) with 25 wins and one tie.
More Fourth-Quarter Heroics
For the second time this season, Dartmouth rallied from a double-digit deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to earn the victory. The most recent instance was the 17-13 win at Cornell as the Big Green scored two touchdowns in the final stanza to overcome the Big Red’s 13-3 lead. Back in the season opener, Dartmouth tallied 15 points to come back from a 21-7 deficit against 22nd-ranked New Hampshire for a one-point triumph. The fourth quarter has belonged to Dartmouth this year, outscoring their opponents in the stanza, 57-9. Prior to those two wins, Buddy Teevens had guided the Green to just two other fourth-quarter, double-digit comebacks: Cornell in 2009 (10 points) and Brown in 2006 (10).
Nailbiters in Vogue
Each of Dartmouth’s last five games have been decided by single digits, a streak matched or surpassed in just seven other seasons — 1919 (5), 1933 (5), 1955 (5), 1977 (6), 2002 (7), 2010 (5) and 2013 (5). This year’s combined difference of 19 points over the five-game span is the lowest five-game stretch in Dartmouth history, save that five-game streak in 1919 (17 points). And the 11 points that have decided the last four contests is the second-lowest total for a four-game stretch; only the 1916 squad had four closer games consecutively (9 points).
Heneghan in Top 10
Jack Heneghan moved into Dartmouth’s single-season top-10 lists for both passing yards and total yards with his strong performance at Cornell on Nov. 5. His 226 yards through the air pushed his season total to 1,971, and with 29 more against Brown will become the ninth Big Green QB to throw for 2,000 in a season. He also showed up on the total offense chart, currently in 10th with 2,158 yards to his name.
Go-To Receiver Emerging in Hagdorn
For most of the season, no one receiver has been the primary target for QB Jack Heneghan. But for the third straight week, freshman WR Hunter Hagdorn has led the receiving corps in yardage. Against Cornell, the rookie snared five passes for 69 yards with a game-long of 26 yards on one catch. His 11 receptions for 118 yards versus Harvard are both season highs for anyone on the team. And at Columbia, Hagdorn produced the longest TD catch in four years at 65 yards. For the season, he leads the Big Green with 37 catches for 489 yards, the latter tying the Dartmouth freshman record set by Jay Barnard ’04. He needs four more receptions to surpass Barnard for that first-year mark, too.
What Have You Done F-Orimolade-ly?
Playing a little Mad Gab here, and while it might be a stretch, I will continue to use it. Anyway, LB Folarin Orimolade was named a preseason second-team All-American by STATS, and he certainly is living up to the billing. The senior leads the Ivy League lead in sacks (8.0) and fumbles forced (4), plus ranks second in tackles for a loss (12.5) after eight games, while his 63 tackles lead the team.