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My, This Looks Familiar: Dartmouth Football Wins Last-Second Finale

  • Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens hugs senior Darius George after George ended the Big Green's game with Princeton by making a touch down off an interception in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Dartmouth won 54 - 44. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth quarterback Jared Gerbino high steps through the grasp of Princeton's Quincy Wolf in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Dartmouth won 54 - 44. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth linebacker Jake Moen intercepts a Princeton pass during the Big Green's 54 - 44 win in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth quarterback Jared Gerbino celebrates after scoring a touchdown with teammate Jack Anderson during their game with Princeton in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Dartmouth won 54 - 44. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hanover — In a Dartmouth College football season chock full of excitement and crazy finishes, the Big Green saved its best and most bizarre for last on Saturday.

Trailing by three points with 3 minutes remaining, the hosts scored twice during the Ivy League game’s final second to beat Princeton, 54-44, at Memorial Field.

Jared Gerbino’s 2-yard touchdown plunge with a tick remaining put Dartmouth up, 48-44. The Tigers attempted two laterals on the ensuing kickoff, but their second pitch was intercepted and returned 10 yards for a score by safety Darius George, one of 29 Big Green seniors playing their final contest.

“It was entertaining, if nothing else,” said Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens, whose team forced four fumbles and recovered two of them while not committing any turnovers itself.

“It was fascinating to watch from the sideline. This was one of the wilder football games I’ve ever been involved in, and we had a bunch of those this year.”

Yale’s defeat of visiting Harvard earned the Bulldogs the Ivy League title, their first outright crown since 1980. Yale’s lone defeat this season came at Dartmouth, but the Big Green fell to Columbia and the Crimson by a combined eight points during its next two league games and finished in a second-place tie with the Lions at 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Ancient Eight play.

“If you had told me we’d give up 44 points today and win, I would have told you that you were insane,” said Dartmouth linebacker Jack Traynor, appearing simultaneously miffed and relieved. “It’s probably nice that we’re not going in tomorrow to watch that (game video), because it wasn’t much of a showing on (defense).”

The teams combined for 98 points, 1,046 offensive yard and 17 penalties. They scored all 12 times they breached the opposing 20-yard line, and Dartmouth produced 34 points during the fourth quarter alone. Gerbino, previously a complementary player taking direct snaps out of the wildcat formation, ran for 202 yards and four touchdowns in 32 carries. The sophomore had only 226 rushing yards entering the game.

Said Princeton coach Bob Surace: “Dartmouth not only had a great scheme, but their runners really fought for those extra yards.”

The afternoon’s combined scoring output was the highest in a Dartmouth game in 133 years. Dartmouth lost, 113-0, to Yale during just its sixth football contest ever in 1884.

“It was nuts, and a lot of good plays were made on each side,” said Teevens, whose 2015 squad earned a share of the program’s first Ivy title since 1996 before last year’s team finished last in the league. “The last team with the ball was probably going to win.”

Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan hit Hunter Hagdorn for a 49-yard touchdown pass and David Smith’s extra point gave the hosts a 41-37 lead with five minutes to play. The Tigers answered with a seven-play, 80-yard drive that needed just two minutes, however, and went up, 44-41, on Chad Kanoff’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Jesper Horsted.

The Tigers booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, and the Big Green took over at its 30-yard line with 3 minutes, 2 seconds on the clock and embarked on a 12-play scoring drive. Five of the first six snaps were Gerbino runs, and Heneghan connected on three consecutive passes to push his team to the Princeton 11-yard line.

The next play appeared to be another Hagdorn touchdown catch but was wiped out by an ineligible receiver downfield. The Tigers shot themselves in the paw once again, however, Delan Stallworth committing holding and pass interference fouls on consecutive plays. Dartmouth was now at the 2-yard line with 5 seconds remaining and eschewed a short field-goal attempt in favor of another Gerbino run.

“It was really exciting, but I can’t take credit because the offensive line was pushing people around and opening up holes,” said the 6-foot-4, 230-pound product of upstate New York. “I actually forgot to let the guard pull, because I was really eager to get in the end zone.”

Gerbino ran straight before veering left and dove for the goal line, clearing it by about a foot. The clock displayed zeroes, but the officials put a second back on the board, leading to a kickoff and two Tiger laterals. The second of those, a behind-the-back attempt by Charlie Volker, was grabbed mid-air by George, whose scoring return caused mayhem among most in an announced crowd of 3,081.

“My last game and my last play ever, and it’s a touchdown,” George said in amazement. “When we reminisce about the 2017 season, that will be one of the touchstone moments.”

Dartmouth trailed, 13-3, early in the second quarter, its only points coming on Smith’s 29-yard field goal. A short and end-over-end Davis Brief punt early in the second quarter bounced off the turf, and Princeton’s T.C. Schneider, who was blocking and never saw the ball. 

Bun Straton recovered for the Big Green, which scored on a Ryder Stone 3-yard run five plays later and pulled within 13-10. A 4-yard scoring jaunt by Gerbino on the hosts’ next drive and Smith’s 25-yard field goal as the stanza expired made it 20-13 for Dartmouth at halftime.

A pair of short touchdown dashes by Volker were the third quarter’s only scoring and Princeton led, 27-20, as the final period began. Gerbino sandwiched two close-range touchdown runs around a 42-yard field goal by the Tigers’ Tavish Rice, and the Big Green was up, 34-30, with 11 minutes to play. 

Kanoff’s 20-yard touchdown throw to Stephen Carlson put Princeton ahead at 37-34 with eight minutes remaining, and Dartmouth answered with Hagdorn’s scoring grab three minutes later.

Kanoff, a record-setting senior who committed to Vanderbilt in 2013 before switching to the Tigers, completed 37 of 46 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns. The Los Angeles-area product had one toss intercepted by Jake Moen.

Dartmouth limited Princeton (5-5, 2-5) to 51 yards rushing while gaining 343 yards on the ground. Gerbino lugged the rock 32 times, while Stone carried 16 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Heneghan completed 20 of 31 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Drew Estrada had seven catches for 79 yards, Hagdorn caught five passes for 68 yards and a score, and Dylan Mellor, Drew Hunnicutt and Stone each had two receptions.

Notes: Gerbino is the first Dartmouth player in six years to top 200 yards rushing during a game. He had a 53-yard run, the Big Green’s longest of the season, and is the first Big Green player to run for four touchdowns in a game since Al Rosier in 1991. … Heneghan ended his career with 4,900 passing yards, fourth on Dartmouth’s career list. He’s also fourth in total yards at 5,289. … Hagdorn’s touchdown catch was the 100th reception of his two-year collegiate career. … Dartmouth was 11-for-15 on third down. … Players returning from injury to compete included Hunnicutt, defensive tackle Jackson Perry, offensive linemen John and Pat Kilcommons and position mate Justin Call. … The 48th Hard-Nose Award was bestowed upon George after Thursday’s practice. It’s given by the team’s medical training staff to the senior who displays the most grit and class in overcoming injury during his career. … Senior defensive end Jeremiah Douchee this week had the hashtag #NoCopAcademy written on tape on the kick plate attached to the back of his shoulder pads. It refers to the planned building of a $95 million police training academy in Douchee’s native Chicago. Opponents contend the money would be better spent on social and job programs. Douchee’s mother, Deatra, is a retired Chicago police officer. … Tigers senior quarterback John Lovett, one of the Ivies’ best players, missed the season because of injury but was on the sidelines Saturday. He wore a baseball cap with the name of professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. … Former Dartmouth quarterback Harry Kraft, the grandson of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, appeared in seven games at Colby (1-8), which won its last game, against Bowdoin. Kraft completed two of three passes during the season. Bowdoin (0-9) this season featured sophomore cornerback Matt Whalen, a former Hanover High player and the son of Dartmouth baseball coach Bob Whalen. … The University of Chicago, coached by former Dartmouth assistant Chris Wilkerson, was 6-4 this season. The Maroons are 30-19 during five seasons under his guidance. … 2016 Dartmouth graduate Kevin Crescenzi is playing professional basketball in Brazil. … Dartmouth sports information director Rick Bender said the men’s basketball team will have its 2017-18 group photo retaken. Star forward Evan Boudreaux quit the squad before its first game, and the junior announced plans to transfer. … Ben Abercrombie, the Harvard freshman who suffered paralysis during his first college football game earlier this season, is at an Atlanta rehabilitation hospital. A Nov. 13 online update from his mother says that while Abercrombie remains on a ventilator, he no longer needs supplemental oxygen or IV antibiotics.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.