Inside the Hash Marks: The Kick Is Good
Dartmouth long snapper Josh Greene ’23 reflects on the last-second field goal to send the Big Green’s Homecoming game to overtime.
In a column for the fall, Dartmouth long snapper Josh Greene ’23 will be sharing his experience playing for the Big Green, covering topics such as the team’s preparation following COVID-19, the academic-sport-life balance required of an athlete at an Ivy League school and other musings on his experience in Hanover. This rendition reflects on Greene’s experience playing in front of a sell-out crowd last weekend at Memorial Field against Yale on Homecoming. The Big Green won, 24-17.
Have you ever experienced a moment that seems like it is going to last forever? Like things could go either way? Maybe like an out-of-body experience? Well, last week, I felt this feeling. My eyes gazed through the south end zone of Memorial Field. At first, all I could see was the scoreboard in the distance, the time dwindling down from 18 seconds. Then, there came the ball. As it reached its apex, I couldn’t tell which way it was heading. The game was going to be decided by the trueness of this kick, and we had reached the point where all we could do was watch. I had done my job, the guys blocking had done theirs, even the holder’s job was done. It was all up to our kicker, Connor Davis ’22, to get us to overtime tied 17-17.
When people talk about their experience playing football, you often hear the cliches about how you are a part of a “brotherhood” and a “family.” As I sit here and type, I am not going to lie and act as if I do not feel that those are true, at least to a certain extent. Most of my best friends are on the team, and they have shaped my college experience. Quarterback Nick Howard ’23, one of the emerging stars on our team this year, has been my roommate for the past three terms at Dartmouth. I am very happy to call him one of my best friends, and I suppose he isn’t too embarrassed to admit that he rooms with the team’s long snapper (I say jokingly, of course). During quarantine, I spent the fall term in Florida with some of my teammates from around the country: running back Noah Roper ’23 from Colorado, defensive back Quinten Arello ’23 from Missouri, kicker Ryan Bloch ’23, defensive back Sam Koscho ’23 from Florida and the aforementioned Howard from Wisconsin. Although we all wished that we could have been at school playing football, going to class and enjoying all that college has to offer, I would not take that experience back for anything. I got to live with some of my best friends — best friends that I would not have if it were not for Dartmouth football.
With that being said, on the football side of things, there is another layer of brotherhood that football creates, coming in the form of position groups. In my opinion, football is distinct in this way. Sure, baseball has pitchers who might hang out separately from position players during practice, and you can find other examples similar to this elsewhere, but, really, how many other sports have teams split up into nine separate positional units? It is within these positional groups where bonds are taken to the next level. I guess you can say that they are like little families. During training camp, these are the guys that you spend quite literally your entire days with, and during the season, it is with these guys with whom you work through the ups and downs. Of course, Davis is part of my position group: the specialists. We might not get the glory of a quarterback or a wide receiver, but we are essential nonetheless. You can imagine our collective disappointment when Connor was nicked up to start the season and missed the first two games. Obviously, there was no one who was more eager for Connor to get back on the field than him, but because we are a team, we were all in it together. He fought hard to get back for the game against the University of Pennsylvania, where he was perfect on extra points and nailed his first field goal of the season, but our Homecoming game against Yale University was a different sort of pressure.
I have been in the meetings where the specialists, along with Coach Teevens, discuss how important it is for us to do our jobs — and do our jobs well. When it comes to the moment of kicking a game-tying field goal to send the Homecoming game into overtime, there is no one with a brighter spotlight on him than the kicker. Yes, everyone had a job to do on this play, but, after experiencing all that he had been through at the beginning of the season, there was nothing that I wanted more at that moment than for Connor to get his moment, for that football to split those uprights.
So let’s go back to it. Those few seconds that took forever. As my back faced Connor, my eyes remained on the goal post. You know what happened next. Yes, the kick sailed through the uprights, sending the game to overtime where we would win 24-17, but something else happened, too. I don’t know whether to describe it as pride or euphoria, or something else completely, but the feeling I felt knowing that Connor — a member of my position group, my teammate, my friend, my brother — came through when we needed him most, there was nothing like it.