Football falls short at UNH 52-19
In the first meeting of the only two Division I football programs in New Hampshire since 2009, the Big Green fell short, losing to No. 7 University of New Hampshire 52-19 Saturday night in Durham.
Dartmouth (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) fell behind early and could never fully recover from the Wildcats’ (3-1, 1-0 CAA) dominant start.
“They’re a good football team, I can see why they’re ranked the way they are,” head coach Buddy Teevens said in a press conference after the loss.
On its first drive of the game, UNH drove 85 yards for a touchdown thanks to a 69-yard touchdown run from the Wildcats’ backup senior quarterback Andy Vailas who started in place of the injured starter junior Sean Goldrich.
“I’m very impressed with Vailas,” Teevens said. “He made just about every play.”
A two-point conversion after that touchdown scamper brought UNH to an early eight-point lead.
Dartmouth went three-and-out on its next possession, but while preparing to punt, the snap flew over the head of Dartmouth punter Ben Kepley ’17 and out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The Big Green found itself looking up at a 10-0 deficit just over four minutes into the game.
After the safety punt, UNH had the ball again with great field position, starting at its own 46 yard line. The Wildcats marched efficiently down the field in 1:50 for another score to put them up 17-0.
The Big Green fought back, scoring touchdowns on their next two drives to claw within four at the end of the first quarter. But, this would be as close as the two teams would be for the remainder of the game.
The Big Green’s first scoring drive was an impressive 88-yard, 5:01 attack that ended with a touchdown pass from Dalyn Williams ’16 to tight end Stephen Johnston ’18 off of play action. The Big Green was saved from an interception earlier on the drive when the play was called back after a UNH defender was flagged for roughing the passer. Alex Gakenheimer ’17 missed the PAT, however, keeping the Big Green down by 11.
The Dartmouth defense made a big play of its own on the next drive, forcing a Vailas fumble on the tail end of a scramble. Safety Stephen Dazzo ’15 recovered the ball at the UNH 37 and the offense took advantage of the opportunity. Williams launched another touchdown strike on the ensuing drive, this one from 12 yards out to running back Kyle Bramble ’16.
But, the UNH offense picked up again in the second quarter, scoring twice more to blow open the game to 31-13.
Dartmouth looked to score once more before halftime after Kirby Schoenthaler ’15 brought a kickoff back 92 yards to the UNH 2 yard line.
“It was a nice personal effort,” Teevens said. “He has the capability, and we’d like to see him do a lot of that this year.”
But the Dartmouth offense was forced to settle for a 26-yard Gakenheimer field goal.
In the second half, the Big Green offense was consistently frustrated and came away with only a 41-yard field goal.
The Wildcats would tally more than 500 yards of offense on the day, including 267 on the ground, and converted 10 of 14 third-down opportunities that kept many of their drives alive.
Dartmouth lost the time of possession battle for the second straight weekend, holding the ball for only 26:56 compared to the opponents’ 33:04, including a staggering 1:08 to 13:52 differential in the fourth quarter.
Williams finished the game with 108 passing yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Bramble led the Big Green on the ground, gaining 51 yards on 15 attempts. The team could only manage 262 yards of total offense and 3-12 on third downs.
UNH will likely be the toughest opposition the Big Green will face this season. The Wildcats were ranked seventh in the nation in the most recent FCS coaches’ poll. No Ivy League schools cracked the top 25, and Harvard University was the only one to receive votes.
Central Connecticut State University and the College of the Holy Cross, Dartmouth’s other two non-conference games this season, also did not receive any votes in the poll.
“We’re a better football team than the last time we lined up the last time we played them,” Teevens said. “I think we’re a much more competitive team right now and it was just a comedy of errors that contributed to the stretch.”
Princeton University, last year’s co-Ivy Champion, opened the season with a 39-29 loss at University of San Diego before defeating Davidson University, both unranked teams. Harvard, the other co-champion, defeated Holy Cross and has defending Patriot League champion Lafayette on its schedule for later this season.
The most impressive Ivy team in non-conference play so far has been Yale, who notched a shocking 49-43 upset of the FBS U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Saturday at the Yale Bowl.
The Big Green opens Ivy League play next weekend when the team hosts the University of Pennsylvania Quakers at Memorial Field.