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First homecoming is all Big Green

  • Dartmouth wide receiver Jamal Cooney, left, out-paces Myles Talley, 5, of Sacred Heart, on a kickoff return during the second half of their game at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Dartmouth won 41-3. (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 photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Niko Mermigas, number 24, comes up with the ball after recovering a fumble from Sacred Heart at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Dartmouth won 41-3. (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 Nick Howard, left, celebrates with Isaac Boston, right, after scoring a touchdown against Sacred Heart at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Dartmouth won 41-3. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/25/2021 10:16:11 PM
Modified: 9/25/2021 10:16:12 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College football showed some rust in its week one victory over Valparaiso. In week two, the Big Green dominated.

Dartmouth set the tone early against Sacred Heart and ran away with a 41-3 win on Saturday at Memorial Field in the Big Green’s first home game since 2019.

In comparing the two victories, Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said his team tightened things up in the last week and played a relatively clean game in all phases.

“It just looked and it felt a lot better,” Teevens said. “You could sense a greater level of confidence with the guys as the game progressed.”

Dartmouth (2-0) opened the game with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 7-yard pass from fifth-year quarterback Derek Kyler to sophomore Paxton Scott to give the Big Green a 6-0 lead. Sacred Heart (2-2) had some success on the ground on its opening possession, and drove into the red zone.

The Pioneers got as far as the Dartmouth 5-yard line, but the Big Green came up with two key plays. Graduate student cornerback DeWayne Terry Jr. made a late blitz and got a sack on second and goal. On the next play, Pioneers quarterback Marquez McCray fumbled, and Dartmouth fifth-year safety Niko Mermigas recovered.

Though it came in the first quarter, that was a turning point in the game. Teevens said it was a big lift for the defense, especially knowing that Sacred Heart would have taken the lead with a successful extra point after a touchdown.

“Emotionally it’s a big thing for defense, and I think that kind of shocked them into playing a little bit better,” Teevens said. “A lot of those guys, they haven’t played a whole bunch outside of last Saturday. That was the best performance, and then you just saw it get better and better and better.”

The rest of the game, outside of Sacred Heart drives at the end of each half, Dartmouth strong-armed its opponent across the board. Six of Dartmouth’s 10 drives ended in touchdowns — and one of the four non-scoring drives was a kneel-down at the end of the first half. The Big Green torched Sacred Heart on the ground with nearly 300 yards and 8.8 yards per carry — Dartmouth’s highest single-game average in at least 50 years.

Most of that production came from two players. Junior quarterback Nick Howard rushed for 154 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns, while senior running back Zack Bair also topped 100 yards with a touchdown.

Both of Howard’s scores were big runs on option plays in the third quarter, from 53 and 39 yards out. He credited his teammates and offensive coordinator Kevin Daft for his strong outing.

“Offensive line did an amazing job all game,” Howard said. “They were getting great push. Those guys work super hard all week. They work even harder on Saturdays. Coach Daft had a great offensive game plan going in, and we just did our job.”

Defensively, Dartmouth locked in after the fumble. The Big Green’s defensive backs rarely allowed Sacred Heart receivers much space, which allowed the pass rush ample time to close in on McCray. Dartmouth recorded seven sacks in the contest. The Pioneers had only two sustained drives after their first possession: a two-minute drill at the end of the first half, resulting in a 39-yard field goal by Sam Renzi, and a long drive on the final possession of the game, when they marched inside Dartmouth’s 5-yard line but couldn’t score before time expired.

Junior linebacker Marques White picked up two of the sacks. He said the defense emphasized starting strong.

“We knew, coming in, we had to execute, and we had to fire from the beginning all facets of the game,” White said. “For defense, we told the line, we gotta hit them hard and hit them quick. Secondary, flying to the ball. We just had to execute our game plan.”

The Big Green will have a short week coming up, as they open their Ivy League schedule with a Friday night game at Penn.

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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