Football looks for first home win in clash with Crimson

by Andrew Sloan | 10/27/06 5:00am

Mike Fritz '07 will look to continue his strong play versus Harvard Saturday.
by Emma Haberman / The Dartmouth

Starting quarterback Liam O'Hagan was sidelined early in the season, and backup Chris Pizzotti stepped in to carry the Crimson's reins. Pizzotti powered the Crimson to a 5-0 start behind solid numbers. He completed 61 of 115 passes (a 53.0 completion percentage) for 904 yards, four interceptions and five touchdowns. He threw for an average of 180.8 yards-per-game. Most important of all was his flawless record.

O'Hagan returned last Saturday for a pivotal matchup with the unbeaten Princeton Tigers (6-0, 3-0 Ivy League), and could not lead Harvard to victory. O'Hagan threw 27 times, completing 13 of his attempts (a 48.1 percent completion percentage), for 168 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown. Most important of all was the fact that the Tigers edged the Crimson 31-28.

O'Hagan will most likely make the start at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field. Nonetheless Harvard fans will most likely be clamoring for Pizzotti's return if O'Hagan struggles early, and the pressure could be a distraction for the Crimson that could help the Dartmouth Big Green (1-5, 1-2 Ivy League). Still, the Big Green men will have their hands full with the most potent runner in the Ivy League, Harvard's phenomenal senior running back Clifton Dawson.

In three career games against the Big Green, Dawson has averaged 113 rushing yards and has scored four touchdowns. He is currently ranked fourth on the all-time Ivy League rushing list with 4,378 yards, and is ranked first with 54 touchdowns scored, placing him two ahead of former Brown University standout (and current Harvard Law School student Nick Hartigan).

His scoring average of 10.3 points per game would leave him ranked 10th all-time on the Division I-AA list. Finally, if he is named to the All-Ivy League first team again in 2006, he would become the first offensive player in league history to be named to the first team four times. He was also drafted in the sixth round of the Canadian Football League draft by the Toronto Argonauts and is a bona fide NFL prospect.

Leading the way for Dartmouth will be another NFL draft-day candidate, wide receiver Ryan Fuselier '06. Hitting Fuselier on the fly will be quarterback Mike Fritz '07, who continues to play stellar football for the Big Green this season. In last week's win over Columbia, Fritz led both teams in rushing with 121 yards on 14 carries. He also threw 21 times, throwing the ball better than his opposition for 133 yards and one interception.

Hudson Smythe '09 was the featured back on the day for Dartmouth, running 20 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns.

"He continues to improve and produce for us," Big Green head coach Buddy Teevens said. "As a bigger back, he's able to move the pile a little bit down around the goal line. He runs hard and he runs low, so it's hard for people to get a hold of him."

Dartmouth may have trouble getting its running game off the ground on Saturday, as Harvard's rushing defense is ranked second in Division I-AA, allowing only 59.2 yards per game. The Crimson is also ranked first in sacks (5.50 per game) and first in tackles for a loss with 9.17 per game.

Yet perhaps the most interesting matchup of the day is the meeting between the two head coaches. Harvard head coach Tim Murphy and the Big Green's Buddy Teevens are childhood chums who were classmates and teammates at Silver Lake High School in Kingston, Mass. They served as assistants together at Boston University from 1982-1984, and Teevens hired Murphy as his offensive coordinator when Buddy was appointed the head coach at the University of Maine in 1985. Following Teevens' tenure as Black Bear head coach, Murphy succeeded him in 1987.

The two friends will butt heads this Saturday, with Dartmouth's chances of making a spectacular run for the Ivy League title on the line. The game will be broadcast on WDCR 1340 AM and WFRD 99.3 FM, and will be available for a small fee online through the Dartmouth sports website.