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Big Green tames Lions

  • Dartmouth's Drew Estrada runs in an 87-yard punt return touchdown against Columbia in Hanover, N,H. on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Dartmouth's Hunter Hagdorn pushes to the three-yard line with Columbia's Ben Mathiasmeier making the tackle during their game on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Dartmouth's Isiah Swann takes down Columbia's Ty Lenhart during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Members of the Newport youth football team Cam Ranney, 9, left, of Newport, N.H., Josh Seymour, 10, of Newport, and Cameryn Simpson, 13, of Unity, N.H. stand for the National Anthem before the start of the Dartmouth football game in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The team was there to welcome the Dartmouth players onto the field. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2019 10:09:32 PM
Modified: 10/25/2019 10:16:22 PM

HANOVER — Monsters of Memorial Field? The Big Green Mashing Machine? You pick the nickname, but there’s no doubt about the Dartmouth College football team’s dominance this season.

The Granite State’s best gridiron gang did it again on Friday, mauling Ivy League rival Columbia, 59-24, to improve to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ancient Eight. Hunter Hagdorn caught four passes for 89 yards and a touchdown and Jared Gerbino rushed eight times for 39 yards and two scores. The hosts attempted only 15 passes, completing nine for 200 yards.

Drew Estrada returned four punts for a school-record 142 yards and a touchdown. Dartmouth used an 8-minute, 12-second stretch overlapping halftime during which it scored 35 points to put the contest away.

Estrada is “obviously dangerous,” said Columbia coach Al Bagnoli, noting that he’s never had a team surrender so many points so quickly during his long career. “They blocked us well, and we had warned our kids about getting personal fouls on fair catches, so maybe we scared them off.”

Said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens: “It was a strange game. We need to finish better, but when you’re up, 52-10, in the third quarter, that’s tough mentally.”

The crux of Dartmouth’s season arrives during the next two weekends, when it visits archrival Harvard and travels to Yankee Stadium to face defending Ivy champion Princeton.

Columbia began the game by driving 59 yards in nine plays and used Alex Felkins’ 25-yard field goal to score the only first-quarter points Dartmouth has allowed this season.

The Big Green answered three minutes later with Estrada’s 87-yard punt return for a touchdown, during which he broke a defender’s seeming tackle a split-second after catching the boot, then outran Columbia’s stumbling kicker to paydirt. Connor Davis kicked the first of his eight extra points for a 7-3 lead.

The hosts produced a 10-3 advantage with two minutes remaining in the first half on Davis’ 31-yard field goal. Caylin Parker’s 26-yard run highlighted a five-play, 31-yard drive.

Columbia forged a 10-10 tie out of an unusual formation. Four Lions bunched wide right as receivers, but quarterback Ty Lenhart threw 11 yards left to Josh Wainwright, unsuccessfully covered by Darren Stanley, seven minutes into the second quarter. The 16-play, 71-yard march was the Lions’ longest drive of the season and included four third-down conversions.

Dartmouth went up, 17-10, on a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jared Gerbino, who pump-faked left before rumbling across the goal line. The score was set up by a 34-yard option pass from Estrada to Hagdorn the play before.

Estrada returned another punt 40 yards to set up Dartmouth’s next points. They came when he rushed two yards for a touchdown off a jet sweep, cutting sharply into the end zone with 3:33 remaining in the second quarter.

Estrada is “very snake-like, very elusive, and you see how he dips and weaves as a receiver,” Teevens said of a player who hadn’t previously returned punts in his college career. “We work hard at our return game, and if good blocks are thrown, he only has to make one or two guys miss. He’s got a knack for it.”

The lead ballooned to 31-10 a minute later when All-American cornerback Isiah Swann returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown. The pick was the 14th of the senior’s career, breaking a tie atop the Dartmouth career list with Scott Sims and Lloyd Lee. It was the Arizona native’s third career interception return for a score, the other two coming against Yale.

The Big Green piled up still more scoring when a sliding Hagdorn caught a 10-yard pass from Derek Kyler in the back of the end zone. The duo had connected for a 31-yard completion up the left sideline on the previous play, a throw that required a wonderful mix of velocity and touch from the junior quarterback. The drive covered 67 yards in five plays and needed just 34 seconds.

Columbia’s misery continued when Dartmouth’s Jackson Perry forced a fumble and teammate Jack Traynor recovered it during the second half’s third play from scrimmage. Gerbino took the next snap and flipped it to Parker, who flipped it to Kyler, who threw to Parker in the left flat for a 33-yard touchdown.

Seven minutes had expired in the third quarter when the hosts scored their 41st and 42nd consecutive points. Gerbino ran 5 yards for a touchdown and Davis, his leg no doubt feeling the strain, kicked yet another extra point.

Columbia’s Mike Roussos ran 1 yard for a touchdown with five minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Lions got the ball back on a Dale Chesson fumble and Ben Mathiasmeier’s 41-yard return. Lenhart soon threw 13 yards to Robert Taylor for a touchdown, and the visitors pulled within 52-24 a minute before the fourth quarter’s start.

Columbia drove deep into Dartmouth’s end with five minutes to play but fumbled, and a Niko Lalos recovery snuffed out the drive. Big Green third-string quarterback Jake Pallotta soon galloped 69 yards up the middle but was caught from behind at the 11-yard line. Noah Roper ran 8 yards for the final touchdown, followed by a Davis kick.

Pallotta “told me that’s the farthest he’s sprinted in four years,” Teevens said with a chuckle. “He made the appropriate run-pass read, and there was nobody left on defense. He just had to outrun the nose guard. Which he did — barely.”

Video promotions for the upcoming clash with Princeton in the Bronx have run on the Memorial Field scoreboard and online all season. Estrada said he and his teammates are working not to become distracted.

“There’s a lot of hype about the Yankee Stadium game, but we’re not thinking about Princeton at all,” he said. “The next game’s Harvard. Our seniors have gotten close to (an Ivy League title) a couple of times and not gotten it done. Our focus is at an all-time high right now. We want to end on a good note.”

Notes: Estrada’s punt return for a touchdown was the second-longest in Dartmouth history and the longest ever allowed by Columbia. … The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Dartmouth scoring 21 points or more during the first half of six consecutive games is an Ivy League record. … The contest was played with temperatures in the upper 40s and rain in the second half. An announced crowd of 4,221 melted away after intermission. … Kyler played in silver cleats with metallic gold accents. … Dartmouth’s 59 points were its most since scoring the same number against Cornell in 2007. … Dartmouth didn’t liberally substitute until late in the game, but Teevens said he left the starters in because they hadn’t played much beyond halftime most of the season. … Former Dartmouth receivers coach Jerry Taylor is now on the staff at Columbia.

Tris Wykes can be reached at

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