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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dented but not demolished: Minutes after football beats Cornell, Howard learns of Harvard’s win

On Senior Day, Nick Howard’s 34th rushing touchdown broke a 96-year-old Big Green record as the Big Green won 30-14.

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Courtesy of Rohan Kalan

All Nick Howard ’23 could do was sigh.

He had rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Taken hits left and right. Given up his starting job to Jackson Proctor ’25 — all in the name of leading Dartmouth past Cornell University and keeping football’s Ivy title hopes alive.

So when he learned Harvard University had beaten the University of Pennsylvania that same day, not just by a score of 25-23, but in triple overtime after Penn missed a gimme field goal — when he heard that news, worse still, from a reporter during the postgame press conference…

Well, yeah — he sighed. 

“I mean, we knew that was going to be a good game,” Howard said. “Obviously, we kept our focus on our task at hand. Those are two really good teams, and I’m not surprised at all that they went down to triple overtime.”

For the Big Green to share a piece of the Ivy title, Harvard will need to lose this Saturday to Yale University. Enough already rides on the 139th rendition of The Game, but a Harvard loss would leave Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale each with 5-2 conference records.

For that to happen, Dartmouth, of course, must beat Brown University on Saturday. The Big Green will surely look to repeat its performance against Cornell.

Last Saturday, the Big Green, which has started games sluggishly all season, scored touchdowns on two of its first three drives and then crossed the end zone once more before halftime. The Dartmouth defense forced Cornell into several third-and-long situations all game, but the Big Red entered halftime with a touchdown of their own.

“We knew what their weapons were, and we wanted to make sure if they were going to beat us, they were going to have to beat us with somebody else,” head coach Sammy McCorkle said. “We didn’t want their best players to beat us.”

McCorkle surely didn’t want mistakes to beat them either. At the start of the second half, Cornell blocked a Dartmouth punt and recovered it on the Big Green 23-yard line. Five plays later, the Big Red crossed the end zone, closing the gap to just seven.

Cornell would not score from then on, and Dartmouth hit a field goal on its next possession. Howard rushed for a touchdown two drives later to seal the game.

Howard, who found the end zone on the first two touchdowns of the game, improved his tally to three rushing touchdowns on the day. More meaningfully, it drove his career tally to 34, breaking the record of 33 rushing touchdowns set by Myles Lane ’28 nearly 100 years ago.

“With my history with these guys, this game meant a lot,” Howard said. “I felt good. The past couple of weeks, I’ve been fortunate to not have taken a ton of huge hits. So that definitely played into it. And I wanted it. I knew we were close on the number.”

The performance was complete from start to finish, and that was not lost on Howard.

“It really felt like our confidence, our belief in each other, all came together at just the right time,” Howard said. “It’s a shame it hasn’t shown up earlier in the season, but I think that’s a testament to all the guys continuing to work as the season has progressed.”

McCorkle, who has seen Howard progress through his five years in Hanover, thought it was the perfect time for his quarterback to peak. 

“It definitely was a different [Howard],” McCorkle said. “He was fresh. He just had a different mindset. He was in control. You could tell.”

Back at the postgame press conference, Howard was in control again. So when that same reporter followed up his breaking news by asking Howard if he was a Yale fan, Howard reacted predictably.

This time, though, McCorkle and safety Leonard St. Gourdin ’24 reacted too.

“Come on,” St. Gourdin, sitting just two seats over, mumbled under his breath.

“Don’t answer it,” McCorkle, flanked by his two playmakers, chirped in.

“We’ll see what happens,” the quarterback finally answered.

Indeed we will.