Football battles Tigers in last game

by Rich Mezzasalma | 11/19/09 11:00pm

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by Zach Ingbretsen and Zachary Ingbretsen / The Dartmouth

The Dartmouth football team will play host to Princeton this Saturday in the finale of the 2009 season. The game has important Ivy League standing implications for both teams, as the winner will end the season in fourth place in the conference.

The Big Green (2-7, 2-4 Ivy) has not beaten the Tigers in five years.

Saturday's contest also marks the 100th game of head coach Buddy Teevens's Dartmouth career.

Teevens began coaching the Big Green in 1987 and compiled a 26-22-2 record before leaving the College in 1991.

After several coaching stints, including the head coach position at Stanford University, Teevens returned to Dartmouth in 2005, and is 9-37-0 since then.

A Dartmouth victory on Saturday would mark the team's first season-ending win since 2003.

Princeton (3-6, 2-4 Ivy) is coming off a 24-17 win over Yale and will look to carry that momentum from into this week's game.

The Tigers, however, have struggled to produce offense at times this season, which occured during Princeton's 38-0 blowout loss to Columbia.

A solid performance from the Big Green defensive line could be the deciding factor in this week's game.

Against Brown, the defensive line put together its most complete game, holding one of the best offenses in the league to 14 points.

The front four was spearheaded by the play of Garrett Waggoner '13, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Bears.

In addition to Waggoner, Connor Phillips '12, Eddie Smith '12 and Mark Dwyer '12 all had solid games on the defensive line.

The group will need to have a repeat performance this week in order to succeed against Princeton.

The play of the defensive linemen also contributed to an impressive game from the linebacking core last week.

Struggles at at linebacker have been the team's Achilles' heel this season. Last week, however, the Big Green held a seasoned and potent Bears offense to just seven points in regulation, and 14 total.

If the linebackers can repeat the performance they had against Brown, it will be extremely difficult for Princeton's already weak rushing game to generate offense on the ground.

"Last week, we probably had our best game of the year at the linebacking spot," Teevens said. "It was a direct result of what happened up front. They were three sophomores and a freshmen playing against one of the most seasoned offensive lines in the league. They performed well and showed what they are capable of and we need to see that on Saturday."

Offensively, Dartmouth will look to exploit Princeton both on the ground and in the air. Since joining the varsity squad, quarterback Greg Patton '13 has been critical to the offense.

Already known for his rushing ability, Patton showed off his arm against Brown, unleashing a 77-yard touchdown pass to Michael Reilly '12 on his way to throwing for 145 yards.

As a weapon on the ground as well as in the air, Patton should play an integral role in Dartmouth's offense this week.

In addition to Patton, Conner Kempe '12 will also see action and look to throw the football in an effort to balance Patton's mostly run-based offensive production.

Saturday's game will be the last game of the collegiate football careers for the 14 seniors on Dartmouth's roster.

The Big Green will say goodbye to co-captain Pete Pidermann '10, along with Alex Toth '10, Tony Pastoors '10, Rob Mitchelson '10, Alex Jenny '10, James O'Brien '10, Max Heiges '10, Niles Murphy '10, Matthew Dornak '10, Chris Burns '10, Thomas Brown '10, Michael Wu '10, Jeffrey Smith '10and Kyle Brong '10.

Despite the team's inability to perform consistently in recent years, the seniors have stuck with the program and will be missed by both the coaching staff and fellow teammates, Teevens said.

"They're the die-hards," Teevens said. "They've kept going and working. They have been mentors for our younger guys and dedicated to the program. To have their last memory on Memorial Field be successful one, we need to play our best ball game of the year."

A win on Saturday will allow the seniors to avenge Princeton's past successes against the Big Green, while also serving as a stepping-stone for seasons to come.

"It's been a long and tough journey for the seniors," Pidermann said. "This is our last chance to beat Princeton and really make our statement and show what this team has done this year and what it can do in the future."

The Big Green's final game of the 2009 season is scheduled to kick off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Field.