Tigers, by a Tail: Princeton Sends Dartmouth to First Loss

  • Dartmouth College safety Ryan Roegge (20) runs with the ball after intercepting a Princeton pass Saturday during the first half of the teams' Ivy League clash. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College equipment manager Mike Bissaillon adjusts Matt Kaskey's helmet hardware during the first half of Saturday's Ivy League game at Princeton. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College defensive tackle Rocco Di Leo cries in the embrace of his brother, Frank, on Saturday after the Big Green's 14-9 loss at Princeton. The No. 14 and unbeaten Tigers move ahead of No. 20 Dartmouth by a game in the Ivy League race with two contests remaining. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College's Jackson Perry, right, consoles teammate Isiah Swann as the pair exit Princeton's Powers Field after Saturday's 14-9, Ivy League loss. The No. 20 Big Green surrendered a late touchdown to the No. 14 Tigers and must now hope for an upset during the season's final two weeks to maintain its league title hopes. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Princeton University quarterback John Lovett dives into the end zone Saturday for his Ivy League team's winning touchdown during a 14-9 defeat of visiting Dartmouth. The Big Green's Ryan Roegge can't hold on for the tackle. Princeton's Andre Guest (76) and Graham Adomitis (80) look on. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, November 04, 2018

Princeton, n.j. — New Jersey may be the Garden State, but the Dartmouth College football team’s Ivy League title hopes withered here on Saturday following a 14-9 loss to unbeaten Princeton at Powers Field.

Dartmouth, 7-1 overall and 4-1 in Ivy League play, must defeat Cornell and Brown and hope that Yale and/or Pennsylvania upsets the No. 14 Tigers if the No. 20 Big Green is to win or share the Ancient Eight crown.

“We’re relying on other people,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens. “In this league, anything can happen. We were in a similar situation a few years ago, and someone lost when we needed them to.”

That was 2015, when Penn surprised Harvard and the Big Green shared its first Ivy title since 1996. The problem this time around, however, is that Princeton (8-0, 5-0) is looking even more imposing than the Crimson did three years ago.

“I feel like I could go out and play a full football game right now; I’m amped,” said still-wired Tigers quarterback John Lovett, who dove for the deciding touchdown and rushed 21 times for 54 yards and two scores.

“Every single Ivy League game has the same amount of importance because we can’t compete in the (NCAA FCS) playoffs. We’re going to attack practice and games the same way we have the entire year.”

Princeton entered with eye-popping offensive numbers, but its defense won the game. The Tigers surrendered 202 yards rushing and four touchdowns last year to Jared Gerbino, Dartmouth’s wildcat formation quarterback, but limited him to 36 yards in 14 carries this time around. Derek Kyler, the Big Green’s other signal-caller, completed 9 of 16 passes for 63 yards and running back Rashaad Cooper carried 12 times for 60 yards.

Princeton coach Bob Surace said his defenders were instructed to control the gaps in Dartmouth’s offensive front. Don’t be distracted by exotic formations and motion, Surace preached. Stay home, do your job and tackle surely and in swarms.

“They practically put 11 guys on the line of scrimmage, and we didn’t answer offensively,” Teevens said. “I expected us to do more.”

Princeton began the fourth quarter trailing, 9-7, but was in the midst of a 23-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a turnover on downs at Dartmouth’s 6-yard line. The Tigers seemed energized, not disappointed, by the march and forced a Davis Brief punt four plays later, winding up with the ball at the Big Green’s 41-yard line with 8 minutes, 36 seconds on the clock.

The hosts needed five plays to score the decisive points, Lovett running left and diving into the end zone from 5 yards. Safety Ryan Roegge had hold of the bruising senior’s leg, but couldn’t hang on.

Dartmouth punted on its next possession but then forced Princeton to do the same. However, the Big Green’s hopes ran out when a fourth-down Kyler pass flew over Drew Estrada’s hands and out of bounds near midfield with 55 seconds to play.

“We fought hard, but we got beat,” Dartmouth defensive lineman Jackson Perry said. “There were just a few things we could have done to change the outcome, but we balled out and I’m proud we laid it all out on the field.

“I’m not going to blame anything on the offense, because once we’re up, if (Princeton) doesn’t score, we win.”

Dartmouth went up right away, receiving the opening kickoff and driving 75 yards in 14 plays and seven minutes for a 7-0 lead. Gerbino lofted a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Robbie Mangas. The freshman’s reception was followed by a Connor Davis extra point, but Princeton drove 75 yards in 12 plays and tied the game after a 3-yard Lovett run.

A Brief punt pinned the Tigers in their own end early in the second quarter and linebacker Jake Moen and defensive lineman Seth Simmer sacked Lovett in the end zone for a safety and a 9-7 lead. The Big Green received the ensuing kickoff but had to punt. It allowed Princeton to drive to its 9-yard line before Roegge intercepted a Lovett pass.

Dartmouth punted again. but Simmer recovered a Lovett fumble at midfield and the visitors drove to the Tigers’ 2-yard line with 2:30 remaining in the half. A pair of false-start penalties on linemen Jake Guidone and Phil Berton, sandwiched around two short runs, moved the Big Green back. Davis then badly missed a 28-yard field goal attempt. The freshman is 6 of 14 on such tries this season.

“It was an (extra point) essentially, and we didn’t come away with points,” Teevens said. “Talk about an emotional boost for them.”

The coach also was troubled by the false-start fouls, which along with two face-masking penalties, added to Dartmouth’s total of eight flags for 62 yards.

“That’s an aberration,” Teevens said. “We have not done that all year long and it happened in critical situations.”

Lovett completed 22 of 30 passes for 161 yards and had a toss intercepted. Dartmouth’s Drew Hunnicutt, who missed practices last week because of an upper body injury, caught a team-high four passes for 24 yards.

Dartmouth linebacker Jack Traynor had 14 tackles and Roegge had 10. Brief punted seven times for a 38-yard average and twice left Princeton with the ball inside its 10-yard line.

“It’s devastating,” Perry said. “I know that we’re the better football team, but today it wasn’t proven. We played hard but it wasn’t enough.”

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Notes: Attendance was announced at 8,014. … Dartmouth lost its first coin toss of the season. … Lovettt, who played with a substantial cast on his left wrist for a third consecutive week, missed last season because of injury. He was recruited by Dartmouth and Teevens said that at one point, he thought the Big Green had landed the New York native. “I won’t be sorry to see him graduate,” the coach joked. … Dartmouth will host Princeton at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx next year. … Evan Boudreaux, the former Big Green basketball player who graduated early and is playing as a junior at Purdue this season, wears the same No. 12 he donned for Dartmouth. The Boilermakers, whose roster includes only two seniors, host Fairfield on Tuesday in their opener.

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