Griffith‘s Got Stats: A Tough Weekend for the College
It was a tough weekend for the College.
While the Dartmouth College football team fell 9-14 in a defensive struggle against the Princeton University Tigers, a more serious situation occurred on the Dartmouth campus Friday night and I would be remiss if I did not mention the incident. A young man was struck by a bullet near Hanover’s Christian Science Reading Room. An arrest has been made and the victim was in stable condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. as of Saturday. This is bigger than sports. I was traveling to Princeton to attend the football game when the news broke; events like this made me think and take stock of where I’m at in my life. Tell your loved ones you care about them, and don’t be afraid to talk to someone if need be.
Moving forward, the game between the Big Green and the Tigers was a matchup of the top two offenses and defenses in the Ivy League in terms of points per game (Princeton was first in both categories, Dartmouth was second). From the first two drives, the game looked like it would be an offensive shootout. Dartmouth was first with the ball and proceeded to score on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with quarterback Jared Gerbino ’20’s throw to receiver Robert Mangas ’22 for the first points of the game. Princeton’s ensuing drive would result in another touchdown on a 3-yard run from quarterback John Lovett. The only other points in the first half would happen on Princeton’s next possession, as Lovett was sacked in Princeton’s own end zone by the tandem of Jake Moen ’19 and Seth Simmer ’20, which awarded the Big Green a safety. The score would remain 9-7 Dartmouth for the remainder of the half, after a missed Dartmouth field goal in heavy wind following a false start penalty prevented Dartmouth from getting into the end zone.
The second half was uneventful at its onset, with the first four drives resulting in four punts, but then Princeton started a clock-killing, 23-play drive that lasted for around nine minutes, bringing the Tigers to Dartmouth’s 5-yard line. This included the Tigers converting two short fourth down plays to extend the drive even further. Princeton head coach Bob Surace elected to go for it on another fourth down play instead of kicking a chip shot field goal, but Dartmouth’s defense held with linebacker Nigel Alexander ’20 and defensive lineman Jackson Perry ’19 credited with the stop. By the end of that drive, nine minutes of game time had elapsed. Dartmouth was unable to capitalize on the turnover, as the ensuing drive resulted in a three-and-out and the resulting punt set the Tigers up at the Dartmouth 34-yard line — phenomenal field position. The field position got even better after a facemask penalty against Dartmouth on the first play of the ensuing drive. This turned a 4-yard tackle for loss by Perry to a 15-yard gain and set Princeton up at the 19-yard line. Lovett would then run into the end zone in the next few plays to put Princeton in the lead, 14-9, with six minutes left in the game. Dartmouth would then go three-and-out on the team’s next drive, giving the ball back to Princeton with ample opportunity to kill the clock. Dartmouth’s defense held once again and forced Princeton to turn the ball over on downs at Dartmouth’s 22-yard line after four plays. Four pass attempts later, including a last-ditch deep pass on fourth down from Derek Kyler ’21 that sailed just over Drew Estrada ’20’s head, Princeton got the ball back and proceeded to run out the clock, sealing the game for the Tigers.
Defense was the name of the game for both teams during the game. Princeton entered this game averaging more than 50 points per game and 550 yards per game; Dartmouth’s defense held the Tigers to just 14 points and 310 yards. Dartmouth was averaging more than 35 points per game; Princeton’s defense held the Big Green to 9 points and 213 yards of offense, with only 43 yards coming after halftime. Dartmouth will need some help if it wants a share of the Ivy League title, as Princeton will have to lose at least one game, in addition to Dartmouth needing to win out. There is some reason for hope, however. Dartmouth plays Cornell University and Brown University to close out its season, the 6th and 8th place teams in the Ivy League, as of today. Princeton will play the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University to finish the season, the 3rd and 4th place teams in the Ivy League. The Tigers still have a relatively difficult schedule ahead of them, so there is reason to believe the Big Green can capture a share of the title.
Around the college football landscape, top-ranked University of Alabama went on the road and shut out third-ranked Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, 29-0 in the game of the week. Alabama is still undefeated and looks like the heavy favorite to win the College Football Championship under phenom quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who played in the fourth quarter for the first time this season for the Crimson Tide. Next week is light on marquee matchups; the highlight games are probably Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) vs. No. 18 Mississippi State University (6-3, 2-3 SEC), and Boston College (7-2, 4-1 ACC) vs. Clemson University (9-0, 6-0 ACC). Look for those undefeated teams to be on upset watch next week as conference championships and the selection for the College Football Playoff approach.