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Dartmouth football ends rough season on happy note

  • Dartmouth quarterback Nick Howard (17) looks to avoid would-be Brown tackler Malcolm Brunson (8) after eluding the Bears’ Kaleb Ross (40) on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at Memorial Field in Hanover. Howard had a pair of short touchdown runs in the Big Green’s 30-7 victory. Dartmouth Athletics — Doug Austin

  • Dartmouth running back Noah Roper runs for some of his game-high 91 yards in the Big Green’s 30-7 Ivy League football victory over Brown at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Roper closed the scoring for Dartmouth with a 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Dartmouth Athletics — Doug Austin

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/19/2022 4:58:39 PM
Modified: 11/19/2022 9:43:36 PM

HANOVER — There was no Ivy League football championship trophy handed out on the field postgame, as there was the last two times Dartmouth played Brown.

All the Big Green’s victory Saturday did was keep them out of the conference cellar. But they were nonetheless dominant against the likewise-woeful Bears, racking up 293 rushing yards and cruising to a 30-7 win to wrap up a highly disappointing season on a positive note.

“Winning is nice,” coach Buddy Teevens said. “To finish on a note like that with the numbers of young players we played, (the seniors) pushed us in the right direction. The defense played another solid game, got people off the field quickly, and offensively, we outscored an opponent. The attitude and the atmosphere on the offensive side of the football was special.”

Dartmouth (3-7, 2-5 Ivy League), which lost five one-score games this year, including two in overtime, put this one away by halftime. Fifth-year cornerback Robert Crockett III made an easy interception of Brown quarterback Aidan Gilman on the third play of the game, and although the Big Green gave it right back when senior Nick Howard threw an interception in the end zone, Dartmouth scored on all four remaining drives in the first half.

Sophomore Jackson Proctor split the quarterback reps with Howard, and he sold the defense on a fake to start the Big Green’s next possession and scampered 64 yards into the red zone. Howard — who was dealing with a fractured rib, a high ankle sprain and a pulled groin at various points during the season — finished the drive off with a two-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 7-0 lead.

Following a three-and-out that gave Dartmouth the ball back at midfield, a touchdown run by senior running back Noah Roper was called back by a holding penalty, but the Big Green still extended be their lead to two scores on a 25-yard field goal by senior Ryan Bloch. Bloch came out of retirement and won the job as the starting kicker prior to the season, but even with a game-winner against Columbia under his belt, he was just 4-for-7 entering Saturday. He closed the year by making all three of his attempts, none from longer than 31 yards.

“He’s so happy and excited that he made the decision to come back,” Teevens said. “I’m not sure what we would have done if he didn’t. It’s a feel-good story about a guy who didn’t do much. He kicked in practice, great team player, very supportive, and then he has an opportunity. And he made the most of it. Was he perfect? No, but he was better than our options.”

The defense forced another three-and-out, and then the offense put together its best drive of the game, going 14 plays — 13 of them runs — for 72 yards in 7 minutes, 22 seconds. The lone pass was a 24-yarder from Howard to senior receiver Jonny Barrett, who had five catches for 77 yards on the day. Howard again found the end zone from two yards out to make it a 17-0 game.

Dartmouth got the ball back immediately as Brown muffed Bloch’s short kickoff into the wind, leading to another field goal and a 20-point halftime lead. In the first half, the Big Green out-rushed the Bears, 192-54, had 14 first downs to Brown’s two, were 7-for-10 on third down and held the ball for nearly 22 of 30 minutes.

“I’ve missed one game in my entire football career up until this season, and I missed two this year, so a lot of adversity,” Howard said. “We had a lot of new faces, and there were definitely some growing pains. But the effort we put together all year showed the character of our team.”

The Bears (3-7, 1-6) turned the ball over on downs in the red zone on their first drive of the second half, and freshman safety Sean Williams intercepted his second pass of the year early in the fourth quarter. Dartmouth turned that pick into Bloch’s third field goal, and Roper found the end zone on a 15-yard sweep on the Big Green’s next drive.

Brown avoided the shutout when running back Allen Smith scored his Ivy League-best 13th total touchdown with less than two minutes to go. Dartmouth then gave senior quarterback Gavin Muir the chance to throw his first collegiate pass, which he completed to sophomore Remington Gall for four yards. Another senior, tight end Zion Carter, made the first reception of his college career and was mobbed by his teammates on the sideline, even though the catch went for no gain.

“There were a bunch of guys who really hadn’t played a whole bunch,” Teevens said. “I give great credit to those guys. They do everything right for four years; they just don’t have an opportunity to play on Saturday. It’s most meaningful for guys like that to be part of a team where there isn’t that Saturday satisfaction, but they feel like they’re contributors as well. They’ve got a couple championship rings to show for it.”

Coming off back-to-back Ivy League titles, the Big Green tumbled into a tie for sixth, their worst finish since 2016 and their worst overall record since 2009. Injuries certainly took their toll, but Teevens and his staff will have a lot to evaluate as they look ahead to 2023.

For now, though, Dartmouth can celebrate a Senior Day win and enter the offseason with a good taste in its mouth.

“We sing the (fight song) in the locker room, and some of the guys forgot the words,” Teevens said. “This is how we want to feel. We made ourselves stronger over the course of the year, and you kick somebody’s (tail) at the end where guys executed, that’s an important thing for the guys to carry forward.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.


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