In its matchup against Columbia on Saturday, football finally found itself on the better end of a one-score game, defeating the Lions 24-21 to end its four-game losing streak. Despite losing its 21-9 lead, the Big Green rallied and claimed the victory thanks to Ryan Bloch’s ’23 game-winning field goal with four seconds left in the game.
Like last week, Nick Howard ’23 and Dylan Cadwallader ’24 split snaps, and Dartmouth combined robust passing and fierce rushing to take down the FCS’s number one rushing defense.
Head coach Buddy Teevens ’79 said he was happy with how his offense involved members beyond Howard in the rushing attack.
“The big push for the game was to get our halfbacks and tailbacks involved, our running backs involved,” Teevens said. “And we did that to a far greater degree than we had [in] previous games.”
The Big Green started on defense again this week and had a shaky start. A 51-yard Columbia rush on the fourth play of the game seemed to foreshadow an early Dartmouth deficit, but four plays later the opportunistic Big Green recovered its first fumble of the season.
“Bend but don’t break,” cornerback Tyron Herring ’23 said of that defensive stop. “They started to gain some momentum… a lot of guys had to step up and play and a lot of guys did.”
But after Tyson McCloud ’24 jumped on the mishandled Lions snap, the offense, led at first by Howard, went three-and-out on its first drive.
The Big Green converted on its next drive, though, which, due to a shanked Lions punt, began at the Columbia 32-yard line. This time Cadwallader commanded the offense, and on his third completion he found Jonny Barrett ’23 for a six-yard touchdown.
“That first touchdown was a commanding swing in our favor,” Cadwallader said. “It really set us off and allowed us to get things going.”
Columbia did, however, reciprocate with a score of its own. A 62-yard rush on the drive’s opening play brought the Lions to the Dartmouth 16-yard line, but a strong ensuing Big Green set of downs — highlighted by a huge pass breakup by Quinten Arello ’23 — held the Lions to just a field goal.
On the Big Green’s third offensive drive, its two quarterbacks split snaps, inching Dartmouth into Lions’ territory as the first quarter expired. But on the first play of the second, Cadwallader, like the Lions just minutes before, dropped the snap and Columbia pounced on it, earning a field goal off the strong field position on its next drive.
Dartmouth punted on its next possession, but again a routine play went awry; the Lions’ returner was hesitant deciding whether to pick the ball up, and it hit his leg before long snapper Josh Greene ’23 swiftly snatched it.
So Dartmouth started on Columbia’s 30-yard line, and Howard had two clutch carries, picking up first downs on back-to-back third-and-ones. Two plays later, on a trick play, Jarmone Sutherland ’24 caught his first career touchdown, this one off a pass from wide receiver Paxton Scott ’24.
Both teams could only muster three-and-outs on their next possessions, but then the Columbia offense made some noise. Starting at their own 34, the Lions converted three first downs, advancing steadily across the field until, with an expiring clock, they kicked a field goal to cut Dartmouth’s lead to 14-9 at the half.
“[Our offense] ended up three-and-out and it allowed [Columbia’s] offense an opportunity,” Teevens said. “We’ve got to play smart football…make sure that we possess the ball.”
Starting the second half with the ball, Dartmouth capitalized on its first-half momentum. Q Jones ’25 rushed 12 yards up the middle to start, and three plays later Howard had an 18-yard rush of his own. From there the assault turned aerial, with Cadwallader subbing in and quickly delivering a 28-yard strike to Scott, bringing the Big Green to the Columbia six. Dartmouth was unable to punch in its third touchdown, but Bloch knocked a field goal through the uprights.
More good fortune would come Dartmouth’s way when the Lions muffed their ensuing kick return, starting the Columbia drive at its own five. The Dartmouth defense was clutch when it needed to be, forcing a dangerous punt from the nine. There, Robert Crockett III ’22 blocked the punt and Tevita Moimoi ’24 pounced on it in the endzone, extending the Dartmouth lead to 24-9.
“We all know that special teams can be a big determining factor of a winning football team,” Cadwallader said. “We’ve seen Crockett do this over the last several seasons… it was amazing”
From there, Columbia put together a nice offensive drive, running 15 plays over 6:15 to punch it into the endzone. A successful two-point conversion made the score 24-17, Dartmouth.
Dartmouth’s next drive would seep into the start of the fourth, but the Big Green could not score, advancing to the Columbia 39-yard line before punting.
Columbia’s offensive response was underwhelming, but so was Dartmouth’s when, after a 32-yard completion to Zack Bair ’22, Bloch doinked a 39-yarder off the goal post.
Columbia, behind its homecoming crowd, came out swinging, moving 78 yards in a swift two minutes and 37 seconds to find the endzone and tie it up.
Then, more bad luck came to Dartmouth. On second down, the Lions stripped Cadwallader of the ball, returning it to the Dartmouth 14. Four plays later, though, the Lions’ kick, a routine 29-yarder, strayed wide left.
From there, Howard stepped into the game, finding plenty of yardage over three screen passes and then a subsequent 26-yard strike to Scott. With four seconds left, Boch nailed a 32-yard field goal, winning the game 27-24.
“I was taught that as long as there’s time on the clock, there’s a possibility to win,” Herring said. “We just continued to plug away and do [our job]. [Howard] connected with [Scott] for those two passes, and then Ryan Bloch’s field goal.”
And Teevens, who convinced Bloch to come out of retirement for one more season, was all praises for his kicker.
“He was just cool, confident, and blew a kiss to the crowd,” Teevens said. “The guys are excited, he was excited, the staff was excited… because he’s been such an unselfish player.”
Despite featuring the senior quarterback in only one other second-half drive, Teevens said the decision to put Howard in for the finale was easy.
“You go [with] the rhythm of what’s going on,” Teevens said. “[Howard]’s just a little bit more experienced in that situation… he’s a wonderful leader. We just felt he gave us a great opportunity, and off he went — he proved us right.”
Looking to build on the momentum of its first Ivy win, the Big Green faces Harvard University at 1:30 p.m. next Saturday for its Homecoming match.
“The team spirits are high,” Herring said. “We’re used to winning and so it’s nice to kind of get in that groove again.”