Football hopes to spoil title hopes of first-place Tigers

by Andrew Sloan | 11/17/06 6:00am

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Kicker Andrew Kempler '08 and the Big Green hope to end a disappointing season on a winning note with a win over Ivy League power Princeton.
by Emma Haberman / The Dartmouth

After an amazing come-from-behind win last weekend at the Yale Bowl, Princeton (8-1, 5-1 Ivy) has muddled the championship picture. A Yale win in that game would have secured the Ivy title for the Bulldogs, but after taking the game 34-31, the Tigers are now assured of at least a share of the Ivy League title if they can defeat Dartmouth (2-7, 2-4 Ivy) on their home field.

The most interesting game of the weekend aside from the Big Green's tango with the Tigers will be "The Game." The original college football rivalry between Harvard and Yale will determine much of the nebulous title picture. The 123rd playing of this contentious rivalry will take place at Harvard Stadium, where the newly crowned all-time leading rusher in the Ivy League, Clifton Dawson, will look to help Yale win an Ivy championship.

Dawson, who has rushed for 1,153 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, comes into "The Game" with 4,781 career yards. The Bulldogs will seek to rebound from a stunning loss last weekend to the Tigers, a comeback by Princeton that was second only to the Big Green's in intensity and emotional fervor.

Trailing 10-0 to the Brown University Bears after three quarters of play, Dartmouth made a furious comeback led by senior quarterback Mike Fritz '07, who completed 24-of-36 attempts for 250 yards, and ran for 58 yards on 17 carries. Ryan Fuselier '06 continued his stellar play, hauling in seven balls for 99 yards. Andrew Kempler '08 rebounded from earlier misses to kick two clutch field goals for the Big Green, including the boot that sent the contest into overtime.

"Our punt game worked well for us ... Kempler responded when we need him to. When we needed to execute we did and that was big for us," said Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens '79.

The comeback was capped by senior tailback Jason Bash barreling into the end zone from one-yard out. Bash, injured for most of this season with ankle problems, made one of the biggest plays of the season for the Big Green.

"It really meant a lot to win that game for all of us seniors, and to be able to score the winning touchdown was tight," Bash said. "It was good to finally be able to contribute after being injured so long. Our improved rushing game is attributed to our offensive line -- they've been improving all year. It's definitely one of those memories that you never forget."

Indeed, the Big Green offensive line has been pushing opponents backwards and opening up holes for the backs all season long, and had a great game against Brown. The defensive unit also came up big for the Big Green, limiting the Bears to three points in the second half of play and through one overtime series.

Dartmouth leads the all-time series with Princeton 42-39-4, and is 30-29-2 overall at Princeton Stadium. Game time is set for 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on AM 1340 WDCR and WFRD 99.3 FM. The clash of Ivy League foes will also be broadcast over the internet for a small fee.

For the Big Green seniors such as co-captain offensive lineman Preston Copley '07, it will be the last chance to proudly don the Dartmouth green and white uniform.

Copley believes that last week's emotional victory will provide the team a big lift going into Saturday's game.

"Yesterday's win was a huge victory for the program," he said. "It was a fantastic send-off for the seniors, winning in overtime on Memorial Field for the last time against last year's Ivy champs ... It will act as a major confidence boost going into the final game of the season at Princeton, who is playing for a piece of the league championship."

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