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Homecoming very much to Big Green’s liking

  • Dartmouth wide receiver Paxton Scott, left, completes a catch against Yale’s John Dean (43) and Micah Awodiran (25) during Saturday’s victory. The Big Green improved to 4-0 wth the win.

  • Dartmouth’s Isaiah Johnson hangs on the rail of the Memorial Field stands, at left, as he celebrates with family including his parents, Gerald Johnson, wiping away a tear, and his mom, Lynn (in white vest), of Detroit, after the Big Green’s 24-17 overtime defeat of Yale on Saturday. Quarterback Nick Howard (17) also receives congratulations at right. Rick Russell photographs

  • Big Green quarterback Nick Howard (17) crosses the goal line for Dartmouth’s second TD of the game, despite the intervention of Yale’s Noah Pope (6).

  • Dartmouth running back Zack Bair (22) knifes through a line of Yale defenders behind the block of teammate Calvin Atkeson (66) during the Big Green’s win over Yale on Saturday. Rick Russell photographs

  • Rick Russell photograph—

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/9/2021 9:58:23 PM
Modified: 10/9/2021 9:58:22 PM

HANOVER — After a second-half defensive and field-position battle, Dartmouth College football’s homecoming game against Yale came down to Connor Davis’ right leg.

Yale scored a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead with 2:34 to play, and the Big Green answered with their longest drive of the half. On fourth-and-1 at the Yale 15-yard line, Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens called on his field goal unit to send the game to overtime.

The Bulldogs called a timeout to mess with Davis’ head. Then Teevens called a timeout to consider putting the offense on the field.

Davis made the kick anyway. And later, thanks to a touchdown run by junior quarterback Nick Howard, Dartmouth went on to win in overtime, 24-17.

Davis said the timeouts actually help him.

“I don’t really believe in the ice. It’s not all it cracks up to be. I think it’s good to have some time to think about it, calm yourself down and just think about what you need to do,” Davis said. “I have full faith in Coach (Teevens) and his decision, so when he gave me the go-ahead to go for it, I was excited to get out there.”

Dartmouth (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) had the ball first in overtime. The Big Green scored in five plays, as Howard notched the go-ahead touchdown — his second of the game and eighth of the season — from seven yards out.

Dartmouth’s defense then took the field knowing a stop would end the game. Yale (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) faced a fourth-and-1 to stay alive, and junior quarterback Griffin O’Connor’s pass came up well short of his target, senior Melvin Rouse II. Dartmouth senior linebacker Jalen Mackie, unblocked on a blitz, forced a quick decision from O’Connor.

The Big Green sideline erupted into pandemonium. The players stormed the field in celebration. They maintained the energy after they left the field.

“It’s ecstatic down in the locker room,” Mackie said.

“This is going to be one of the games that I feel like we’re going to tell our kids about, our children about — the time we went into overtime and was able to pull it out.”

Yale opened the scoring with a 38-yard field goal by sophomore Jack Bosman on its opening drive. Dartmouth made it 7-3 later in the first quarter on a 32-yard touchdown pass from fifth-year quarterback Derek Kyler to sophomore wide receiver Isaac Boston.

The Big Green extended the lead to 14-3 early in the second quarter when Howard ran it in from the 1-yard-line. Yale cut its deficit to 14-10 late in the second quarter on a 5-yard pass from O’Connor to Rouse. Bosman missed a 41-yard field goal attempt with less than a minute remaining in the first half, which proved costly.

The Big Green were unable to control the game on the ground as they’d become accustomed to. Senior running back Zack Bair finished with 62 yards on 16 carries, and Howard posted 41 yards on 11 rushes. Yale’s defense closed up running lanes that Howard has had available in Dartmouth’s first three games.

Teevens said his offense has work to do out of this game, but he credited the Bulldogs defense for a strong performance.

“I thought Yale’s defense was extremely effective,” Teevens said. “Early portion of game, we moved the ball a little bit and they kind of shut it down. They had a good game plan, and we didn’t have a key to break it until late in the game.”

Boston led the Big Green in receiving with four catches for 54 yards and the touchdown. Sophomore Paxton Scott was quiet on the stat sheet for much of the game, but Kyler looked his way multiple times on the key two-minute drill to set up the game-tying field goal. Scott finished with five receptions for 47 yards.

After dominant back-to-back victories over Sacred Heart and Penn, this was the tightest game Dartmouth has played all season.

Kyler said the nail-biter will benefit the Big Green going forward.

“I think it was good that we got a game like this. This is where you really see what your team’s made out of,” Kyler said. “We have so many young guys, and they might be like ‘We haven’t had a close game yet.’ But we needed this, I think, as a collective group to see that it’s not going to be a cakewalk for us the whole year. It was good to see what we’re made out of.”

Dartmouth is tied atop the Ivy League standings with Princeton and Harvard. Through four games, Teevens likes the makeup of his squad.

“They really like each other. It’s a fun team to coach,” Teevens said. “They are very cohesive; they’re extremely unselfish.

“We play all kinds of guys on defense, on offense, on special teams and so forth, and I think that helps. And they pull for each other. They know they all have a role.”

Dartmouth will take on the University of New Hampshire next week at Wildcats Stadium in Durham.

Notes: This is the first time Dartmouth and Yale have ever gone to overtime. ... This was Dartmouth’s first overtime game since 2017, against Holy Cross. ... Davis’ converted extra point in overtime set a new school record for consecutive made PATs with 52 straight. ... Kyler topped 3,000 career passing yards in the game, becoming the 10th Dartmouth player to achieve the feat.

Seth Tow can be reached at

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