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The Dartmouth
February 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Football falls to Sacred Heart in season’s first away game

The loss drops the Big Green’s record to 1-1 entering the start of Ivy League play.

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Over the weekend, the football team  traveled to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. The Big Green fell short in the Pioneers’ homecoming game, sustaining a 38-31 overtime loss. Dartmouth is now 1-1 as it enters Ivy League play.

Saturday’s game against Sacred Heart marked the end of Dartmouth’s 20-game non-conference win streak.

“I think the best team is who wins on game day,” Josiah Green ’25 said. “I personally believe that Dartmouth has a better team, but Sacred Heart came out and beat us in overtime yesterday, so I have to give props to those guys.”

Though Dartmouth surpassed Sacred Heart in terms of total yardage — Dartmouth totalled 513 yards and Sacred Heart 427 — and had possession of the ball 30 seconds longer than the Pioneers, Sacred Heart was still able to come out on top. The Pioneers had 26 first downs, compared to Dartmouth’s 21. Sacred Heart also had more success on third down, converting six out of 13, compared to Dartmouth’s four of 12.

Dartmouth opened the game with a dominant 21-3 lead in the first quarter. Sacred Heart received the opening kickoff, but a third-down sack from Joe Heffernan ’22 and Trevon Erickson ’24 led to the Pioneers giving up the game’s first possession without a score. 

Q Jones ’25 ran 68 yards on Dartmouth’s fourth play of the game for the first touchdown of his career. A pass from Sacred Heart was later intercepted by Tyron Herring ’23, and quarterback Nick Howard ’23 ran in a 30-yard touchdown three plays later to jump out to an early 14-0 lead.

“We just want to keep building on that first quarter performance,” Macklin Ayers ’24 said. “There were definitely some bright spots on both offense and defense. We want to keep improving on our running game, which was strong in the first quarter and then throughout the first half. We want to work on defense and tackling coverage, which was sound in the first quarter.”

Sacred Heart returned a Big Green punt for 47 yards, setting them up for a 35-yard field goal. Jones responded with a 40-yard run of his own, a drive capped off by a pass to Jonny Barrett ’23 for a 35-yard touchdown.

“The first quarter was very exciting,” Jarmone Sutherland ’24 said. “I felt like we played really well and we did a great job of execution with plays at the beginning of the game.”

The Pioneers found more success in the second quarter in front of their homecoming crowd. Sacred Heart’s offense progressed 71 yards in seven plays that ended with a three-yard touchdown. With just over a minute to go in the half, Sacred Heart drove 72 yards and tightened the score at 21-17 with a four-yard passing touchdown.

Jones and Howard both rushed for over 150 yards, becoming the first Dartmouth duo to do so in the same game. Jones recorded three receptions for 31 yards as well, showing his ability as a dual threat in the run and receiving game.

“I've been itching to get an opportunity in the backfield to show everybody what I'm capable of,” Jones said. “[Saturday’s game] was the first time I really was able to show [that]...”

Sacred Heart kicked off to Dartmouth to start the second half. In just six plays, the Big Green traveled 75 yards, finished  off with Howard running into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.

After a punt return into Sacred Heart territory, Dartmouth drove for a 25-yard field goal from Ryan Bloch ’23 — his career first. The Pioneers, however, dominated the final five minutes of the third quarter, moving 69 yards in 12 plays and closed in on the Big Green with a 10-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to seven at 31-24.

Howard threw an interception on a third-down pass, but the Pioneers’ drive ended on a missed 37-yard field goal. Dartmouth lost its next possession due to a holding penalty — and Sacred Heart responded by collecting 65 yards on its next drive and collecting a five-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game at 31-31.

The tie sent the game to overtime, in which the Big Green kicked off to Sacred Heart. The Pioneers traveled to the two-yard line in six plays and eventually scored the  game-winning touchdown. Dartmouth responded by moving the ball to the fave-yard line, but on a fourth-and-two, Howard threw an interception that ended the game.

“There's a lot of things that we're going to learn from the game once we sit down and watch it over again that we are going to work on,” Sutherland said. “We're gonna try to finish games better and just try to make sure that we're executing, from beginning to end. ”

Ivy League play begins next week against the University of Pennsylvania on Memorial Field as the Big Green looks to defend its 2021 Ivy League title.

“I think it was good to get this little hiccup out of the way now,” Ayers said. “We're looking forward to improving every week from now on and learning from this performance.”