Big Green football falls 42-14 to Harvard in Cambridge

by Ben Reed | 10/31/05 6:00am

Against a big rival, records can often prove irrelevant. Two years ago, behind the miraculous diving reception of Andrew Hall '05 that can only be called, "The Catch," the Big Green shocked Harvard in Cambridge with a 30-16 victory. One year ago, despite finishing with a 1-9 record, Dartmouth came a point shy of upending the Crimson at Memorial Field and spoiling its perfect season before a failed two-point conversion led to a 13-12 Harvard win.

Back on the road in 2005, however, records did matter and the underdog finally played like the underdog as Dartmouth (2-5, Ivy 1-3) came up way short in a 42-14 thrashing by the favored Crimson (4-3, Ivy 2-2) on Saturday.

In gusty, snowy conditions at Harvard Stadium, the game saw Crimson ball-carriers blowing by Big Green defenders for 177 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground, the Crimson defensive line blowing past the Green pass protection for eight sacks, and numerous yellow flags whirling in the wind as Dartmouth was penalized for 79 yards on the day.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge today," head coach Buddy Teevens told reporters after the game. "One of our goals is to always play a complete game and we didn't do that today. We had too many mental and physical breakdowns. We've seen Harvard play all year on film and that was the best game they've had."

Despite the lopsided final score, however, it was not until the third quarter that Harvard, which led 14-0 at the half, put the game out of reach. Junior running back and kick returner Clifton Dawson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 92 yards into the end zone. The converted extra point gave the Crimson a commanding 21-0 lead.

"It was definitely not the way we wanted to start the second half," said linebacker Josh Dooley '06, who led the defense with 13 total tackles. "It was a 14-0 ball game at half and team morale was pretty good at halftime. Harvard came out strong in the second half and they grabbed the momentum right out of the gate."

Showing some fight, Dartmouth answered right back on its next possession. Quarterback Josh Cohen '09 completed all five of his pass attempts on a seven-play, 67-yard drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown strike to his favorite target, wide receiver Ryan Fuselier '06 with 11:42 left in the quarter.

But, in the next two minutes, the Big Green came undone, as a two-possession game turned into a 35-7 shellacking. Two personal fouls and a pass interference call against Dartmouth resulted in 43 penalty-yards and set up a one-yard Liam O'Hagen touchdown run on a quarterback-keeper.

On the ensuing kickoff, Steve Jensen '05 fumbled a short kick at the Dartmouth 32-yard line that Adam Miller recovered for the Crimson. On the next play from scrimmage, Dawson scampered 32 yards for Harvard's fifth touchdown of the game.

On the day, Dawson rushed 23 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns. O'Hagen, a fleet-footed quarterback, added 62 rushing yards and two touchdowns of his own, as the Big Green was unable to bottle up the Crimson rushing attack all game.

"Dawson and [O'Hagen] are both very athletic and have the potential to turn any play into a touchdown," said Dooley. "Harvard's offensive line is both physical and consistent, and they don't miss many blocking assignments."

The further Dartmouth fell behind, the easier it was for Harvard's relentless pass rush to load up on Cohen, forcing sacks and turnovers. According to Fuselier, who led the Big Green offense with seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown, the eight sacks allowed by Dartmouth were the fault of the entire offensive unit.

"The offensive line, quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs missed assignments, checks and blitz reads throughout the entire game," he said.

Although an impressive 21 of the rookie quarterback's 25 pass attempts were caught, two of those passes were reeled in by men in Crimson jerseys. The interceptions took place on consecutive Dartmouth third quarter possessions following Dawson's 32-yard touchdown. For the game, Cohen threw for 160 yards before he was replaced by Charlie Rittgers '06 midway through the fourth quarter.

The senior quarterback did not fare any better, however. On his second pass attempt, he was intercepted by defensive back Steve Williams, who took the ball down to the one yard-line and set up O'Hagen's second rushing touchdown of the game.

Harvard's senior quarterback completed 13 of 22 passes for 161 yards, three touchdowns (two rushing) and two interceptions on the day. His only touchdown pass came with seven minutes left in the first quarter on a seven-yard completion to wideout Ryan Tyler that highlighted a methodical 10-play, 73-yard drive.

On the drive, O'Hagen converted a third and 18 on a 42-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Alex Breaux, the longest pass play of the game.

The Crimson's second touchdown of the first half came on a Clifton Dawson one-yard burst with just under 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The score completed an eight-play, 47-yard drive.

Dartmouth managed a second touchdown of the game in garbage minutes as the fourth quarter wound down.

Rookie tailback Milan Williams '09 had rushes of 12 and 30 yards, a 23-yard reception from third-string quarterback Dan Shula '07 and a two-yard touchdown run, providing a rare Dartmouth bright spot.

On four carries, Williams led all Big Green rushers with 48 yards. Starting tailback Jason Bash '06 struggled to find running room, managing a meager 23 yards on eight carries for the game.

After a 17-6 Homecoming victory against Columbia, Saturday's trouncing was all the more frustrating for the Big Green, which squandered a rare opportunity this season to build on momentum from the previous week's win.

"We were very disappointed in ourselves because we know we are a much better team than the one we put on the field versus Harvard," said Fuselier.

He added, "We had momentum going into the game coming off a win against Columbia. We just hurt ourselves. Harvard is a very solid football team, but we have the talent to beat them. We just didn't put it all together on Saturday."

Just one game ahead of Ivy cellar-dweller Columbia(2-5, Ivy 1-3) with only three games remaining, however, the men in green have not yet given up on a frustrating season.

"Our goal is always to win games," said Dooley. "Winning out, especially two at home, would be great for us seniors and provide a lot of momentum for the staff and underclassmen for next year."

Dartmouth returns home next weekend to play Cornell (3-4, Ivy 1-3) at 12:30 p.m.

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