Football clinches third win with final play touchdown

by Jake Philhower | 10/2/17 2:25am

Dartmouth football pulled out a win on the last play to defeat the co-defending Ivy League champion University of Pennsylvania, 16-13, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Friday night. With only three seconds left on 4th and goal, football head coach Buddy Teevens ’79 dialed up a run. Quarterback Jared Gerbino ’20 took the snap and punched it into the end zone as time expired, leading the Big Green to its third straight victory, improving to 3-0 on the season. With its first Ivy League win under its belt, along with a win against a College of the Holy Cross team that was then-ranked 25th in the FCS Coaches Poll, the Big Green seems to be poised for success going into the heart of its schedule. 

The Quakers, entering the season third in the Ivy League preseason poll this year, showcased their offensive abilities against Ohio Dominican University and Lehigh University. Though the team lost its starting quarterback, Alek Torgersen, now a member of the Washington Redskins practice squad, it still returned a stout defense and a sharp offense. Penn easily won its first two games and was rolling into its Ivy League opener. 

The play early on was fairly slow and physical. The first quarter yielded no score but toward the end of the quarter a strong drive from the Big Green showed them poised to score. Early in the second quarter, quarterback Jack Heneghan ’18 connected with wide receiver Hunter Hagdorn ’20 for a 12-yard touchdown pass. 

“I take my offense against the best defenses in the country any day,” Hagdorn said after the game.

Hagdorn had a very successful outing on Friday with nine receptions for 91 yards and one touchdown. The Big Green had over 50 players see the field in Philadelphia, coinciding with Teevens’ emphasis on playing a deep team with fresh players on the field at all times.

The offense featured a time split at quarterback between Heneghan and Gerbino. Gerbino mainly provides a running threat, adding a wildcat dimension to the offense. The Big Green offense has had success on the edge, running the ball to the outside on a large percentage of its plays. 

“I think we’ve seen a lot of success with that play and will continue to do so if our blocking on the edge continues to be as good as it has,” running back Ryder Stone ’18 said about the Big Green’s success with the jet sweep. “We have a strong offense this year, and that’s just one facet of it.”

The Big Green continues to have success in the passing game. Through three games, Heneghan has thrown for four touchdowns and no interceptions. Against the Quakers, Heneghan completed 23 of 30 passing attempts, throwing for 199 yards and one touchdown. These stats give Heneghan a passing rating of 140.0, as he worked efficiently to yield a lot of production.

The defense also had a sound outing, only allowing one touchdown and 13 points against a talented Penn offense. The defense was given very little wiggle room and played well enough to hold the Quakers within range of the Big Green offense. As a whole, the Big Green has proven that it can win close games and finish in the fourth quarter. 

“These last couple games we’ve certainly liked to cut it close, but after Holy Cross I had a lot of faith in us to pull through at the last second against Penn,” Stone said. “It was definitely a dramatic finish to a good fight between two tough teams.”

Winning the Ivy League is always a tricky task — almost every game is like a playoff game and champions rarely have more than one or two losses. That the Big Green was able to put a difficult game on its schedule behind it while keeping pace with the elite teams of the Ivy League bodes well for the rest of the season. 

“Penn is always a tough opponent and it was certainly a nice win,” Heneghan said. “But every game in the Ivy League is extremely important, so we look forward to taking the season week by week going forward.”

As students on campus look forward to the festivities and traditions of Homecoming weekend, the Big Green will be gearing up for its biggest test thus far against Yale University at home. The Bulldogs come to Hanover as a highly ranked team nationally, having received several votes on the national FCS Coaches Poll. Yale was one of the highest ranked teams in the Ivy League coming in and has outscored its opponents 146-62 this season. A win against a team like Yale could pay dividends down the road if the Big Green stay in the hunt for the Ivy League title. 

Kickoff against Yale is on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Field.