Dartmouth hauls in a homecoming win in overtime

The Big Green took down Yale in front of a raucous homecoming crowd to remain undefeated.

by Will Ennis | 10/11/21 2:25am

10-11-21-hocofootball-carolinekramer
by Caroline Kramer / The Dartmouth

It was fourth down and one, thirteen seconds remaining, and Dartmouth trailed by three points. The Big Green’s homecoming matchup against Yale University and Dartmouth’s early-season undefeated record hung in the balance. It all came down to the leg of Connor Davis ’22.

Snap, hold, right down the middle. Davis buried the game-tying field goal, sending the game to overtime — Dartmouth’s first overtime game since 2017 against Holy Cross — and eventually to a Dartmouth victory.

“I think it was good that we got a game like this,” said quarterback Derek Kyler ’21. “This is where you really see what your team’s made out of…We needed this, I think, as a collective group to see that it’s not going to be a cakewalk for us the whole year.” 

Dartmouth football hosted the Yale Bulldogs Saturday for the Big Green’s Ivy League home opener and earned a 24-17 victory in an overtime thriller in front of the homecoming crowd.

The first half of the game saw the majority of the offensive production. On the first possession of the game, Yale worked a 12-play, 54-yard drive that ended in a field goal, putting Dartmouth in a 3-0 hole early.

Both defenses held serve following that, forcing consecutive punts until Dartmouth’s second offensive drive. The Big Green leaned on its multifaceted running attack, running three plays featuring three different ball carriers before turning to the passing game to break Yale’s defense open over the top.

On 1st and 10 from Yale’s 32-yard line, Kyler found Isaac Boston ’24 streaking down the left sideline for a touchdown, the first end zone trip of Boston’s career. Boston would lead the Big Green in receiving against Yale, catching four passes for 54 yards and the score. Davis knocked in the extra point and Dartmouth took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.

The Big Green wasted no time adding to the lead, scoring a second touchdown on a direct snap to Nick Howard ’23 on its next offensive possession to cap off an 8-play, 83-yard drive.

The Bulldogs were able to respond to that score with a touchdown of their own, sending the game to halftime with a score of 14-10, Dartmouth.

A major throughline of the game was Yale’s ability to contain a Big Green rushing attack that had run roughshod over opponents until Saturday. Head coach Buddy Teevens ’78 credited Yale’s defense.

“I thought Yale’s defense was extremely effective,” Teevens said. “Early portion of the game we moved the ball a little bit and they kind of shut it down. They had a good game plan and we didn’t have a key to break it until late in the game.”

The score would hold at 14-10 for almost the entire game. The second half was defined by strong defense on both sides, as the Dartmouth and Yale defenses combined to force eight punts on the first nine drives of the half. The one non-punt was a Yale fumble recovered by the Big Green’s Tanner Cross ’21.

Late in the game, however, Yale took the lead on a backbreaking offensive drive that saw the Bulldogs convert three separate fourth downs, including on a 4th and goal for a touchdown. After the extra point, the Big Green trailed by 17-14 with only 2:34 remaining in the game.

On the ensuing drive, aided by some key penalties against the Yale defense, Dartmouth was able to push 68 yards down the field to set up Davis’s game-tying field goal. Yale called a timeout, attempting to “ice” Davis — Coach Teevens called one in turn, and Davis knocked the kick through.

“I don’t really believe in the ice,” Davis said. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be…I have full faith in Coach [Teevens] and his decision, so when he gave me the go-ahead to go for it I was excited to get out there.”

Yale won the coin toss and deferred the initial possession to Dartmouth. The Big Green took advantage of having the ball first and scored a touchdown on another Howard direct snap, his second score of the day, giving Dartmouth a 24-17 lead. Dartmouth’s defense then took the field knowing that a stop would secure the victory.

It came down to 4th and 1 for Yale, a situation that had plagued the Big Green on Yale’s fourth-quarter touchdown drive. This time, though, the defense held strong. Jalen Mackie ’22 got to the Bulldogs’ quarterback, forcing a quick throw and an incompletion. The ball hit the turf, the crowd and sideline erupted, and Dartmouth walked off the field with a victory on homecoming weekend.

“It’s ecstatic down in the locker room,” Mackie said. “This is going to be one of the games that I feel like we’re going to tell our kids about...the time we went to overtime and was able to pull it out.” 

After the win, Dartmouth stands tied with Harvard and Princeton — all three teams 4-0 — atop the Ivy League standings. The Big Green will next take the field on the road at the University of New Hampshire next Saturday for the team’s final non-conference game of the season.

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