Football finishes season with 30-0 loss to Princeton

by Jordan Rose | 11/21/05 6:00am

The Dartmouth football team came out to the worn grass of Memorial Field hoping it could reward its 27 departing seniors with a victory against Princeton University. Unfortunately, these dreams of glory never really had a chance at fruition.

The Big Green ended a frustrating season Saturday with one of most disappointing performances of the season with a 30-0 shutout at the hands of the Tigers, highlighted by an embarrassing string of special-teams woes in the third quarter that lead to 17 Princeton points.

The Dartmouth defense continued to force turnovers and create opportunities for the offense, intercepting Tiger quarterback Jeff Terrell twice and recovering one fumble. Senior captain Josh Dooley '06 provided the lone highlight, recording his 300th tackle in the third quarter to become only the ninth player in Dartmouth football history to reach the milestone. "It feels good," Dooley said, "but my body might disagree. Just knowing it was the last time to ever strap on the pads made Saturday very special."

For Dooley, Saturday's contest was more that just a game. "My dad passed away last Sunday, and this was the first game I had ever played in my life without talking to my dad beforehand," he said. "Early in the year, he and my mom had planned on coming up for the game. My mom still came, but it was tough not having my dad there."

Dooley finished the game with a career-high 17 tackles, while co-captain Anthony Gargiulo '06 chipped in with nine tackles, two for loss, and one sack. The Tigers managed to score on five of six trips to the end zone, but three of those attempts resulted in field goals due to stiff defensive pressure inside the 20.

However, the Dartmouth offense could not convert any of its chances into legitimate scoring opportunities. The Big Green moved -6 yards rushing and 95 yards passing with four interceptions for 89 total yards, while Princeton rushed 55 times for 205 yards and amassed 111 yards through the air for 316 total yards. The Tigers held the ball for nearly forty minutes, leading to 18 first downs compared to the Big Green's six.

Coach Buddy Teevens echoed those sentiments in a press release, saying, "Defensively we played pretty well, we shut people down, made some plays and forced some turnovers. Offensively, we just couldn't get going."

Early in the first quarter, the Big Green defense gave the 4,720 spectators something to cheer about when they flushed Tiger quarterback Jeff Terrell out of the pocket on the third play of the game and forced a hurried pass to bring up a Tiger punt. The Dartmouth offense struggled mightily, as Charles Ganske '06 fumbled the ball away on the first run of the game. This set up a Princeton field goal to make it 3-0 with 10:56 left in the period.

Princeton broke through the offensive line, which provided spotty protection throughout the game, and got Cohen for two of its five sacks to force a Big Green punt. On the next drive, Gargiulo recovered an errant pitch by Terrell on the Tiger 38-yard line, but the Big Green offense sputtered and failed to gain any yardage on the ensuing drive. Princeton used the remaining time in the period and drove down to inside the Dartmouth 5-yard line, but a tipped pass early in the second quarter by the defensive line stopped a potential touchdown for the Tigers on third and goal. A 28-yard field goal by Derek Javarone made it a 6-0 Princeton lead with 14:48 in the half.

Tiger defensive end James Williams then read Cohen's eyes on the next offensive-play and intercepted a screen pass on the Dartmouth 35. As Williams rumbled toward the end zone he pitched the ball back to teammate Tim Strickland, whom was tripped up at the 1-yard line. The Big Green defense was not about to fold just yet, as Steve Jensen '06 intercepted a tipped ball at the line and returned it to the Dartmouth 10-yard line to avert a mounting deficit.

A Dartmouth interception by Chris Green '06 and holding penalty by the Tiger offensive line gave the Big Green excellent field position, but once again the offense could not gain the necessary ten yards to move the chains. Erik Hinterbichler '06 lined up for a 31-yard field goal, but holder Dan Shula '06 took the snap and ran an option sweep to the left of the line to try to covert on fourth and one. The Princeton defense was in hot pursuit, tackling Brett Lowe '08 for a two-yard loss immediately after he received Shula's shovel pass.

The Big Green closed out the half when the Tiger defenders never bit on Cohen's draw to Jason Bash '06, allowing a horde of Princeton tacklers to force a fumble and recover it on the Dartmouth 26. Terrell slipped from the grasp of two Big Green defenders in the pocket and scrambled into the end zone on third and 10 to give Princeton a 13-0 lead at halftime.

The third quarter brought some of the most embarrassing and demoralizing moment for the team of the season, stemming from poor special-teams plays. After starting at their own 24-yard line late, Cohen led a charge down the field, connecting for two big gains to tight end Mark Bronga '08 and Jason Raiti '06 to the Princeton 13. However, a near interception and two sacks by the Tiger defense forced a long 43-yard field attempt for Hinterbichler.

The ball never had a chance as it sailed short into the end zone, where Princeton cornerback Jay McCarenis alertly fielded the ball on the goal line and took off down the right sideline with a convoy of blockers 100 yards to the end zone, making it 20-0 for the Tigers with 2:48 left in the period.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jensen fumbled the ball to Derek Davis of the Tigers on the Dartmouth 15, where Princeton easily turned the turnover into six points on a Rob Toresco run up the middle with 2:33 remaining.

Now 27-0, Jensen redeemed himself by tearing up the field on the kickoff to bring the ball up to the Dartmouth 46. On the subsequent play, Cohen tried to thread a ball to a Jason Raiti '06 on a deep post route, but cornerback J.J. Artis made an athletic play at 2:16 in the period to snatch it out of the air for a Princeton interception.

The Tigers possessed the ball for nearly ten minutes in the fourth quarter, capping a long drive with an 18-yard field goal with less than six minutes remaining in the contest. Both Dartmouth senior quarterbacks got a chance to play late in the quarter, albeit with limited results. Shula's first pass was intercepted by Strickland at the Dartmouth 45, and Charlie Rittgers '06, who had been a mainstay at the starting quarterback position until midway through the season, also tossed a pick on a misguided throw up the middle to McCarenis on his second attempt. Princeton ran out the clock, and just like that the 2005 Dartmouth football season ended not with a bang, but with a disappointing whimper.

"Saturday's game was not the ideal way to go out," said Dooley. "No one could argue that. Princeton is a good football team, and we just made too many mistakes. We turned the ball over seven times, and it is just hard to win with that working against you."

He added, "Hopefully, the underclassmen take all the positives from this year and expand upon them. I just hope underclassmen respected me for what I did, and they are excited about next year and the future of Dartmouth football."

As the squad looks toward the off-season with many senior starters departing on both sides of the ball, Teevens is confident that good things are to come for the program. "We've got good people who worked hard," he said. "I told the seniors they laid the ground work with the attitude that we need."

Dartmouth finished its campaign with an overall record of 2-8, 1-6 in the Ivy League, while Princeton finished with a mark of 7-3, 5-2 in the conference, good enough for second place. The 2006 season opens up on the road, when the Big Green travels to Colgate on Sept. 16.