New Hampshire Football Report

Defense carries Dartmouth

WORCESTER, Mass. — Senior cornerback Darius George forced a fumble that set up Dartmouth’s first touchdown, plus recovered a fumble in the end zone to help the Big Green (2-0) spoil homecoming for Holy Cross (1-3) in a 35-10 win at Fitton Field on Saturday afternoon.

For the second straight week, Dartmouth racked up at least 200 yards both on the ground (208 yards on 44 carries) and through the air (245) as junior quarterback Jack Heneghan completed 18 of 29 passes to 10 different receivers for 240 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Miles Smith led the running game with 71 yards on eight carries, the first going for a 35-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Junior Ryder Stone and freshman receiver Hunter Hagdorn — who led Dartmouth with 62 receiving yards on three catches — also ran for scores for the Big Green.

The Dartmouth defense was the true star of the game, holding the Crusaders to 285 yards while collecting four turnovers. Senior linebacker Folarin Orimolade picked up the Johnny Turco Award as the MVP of the Holy Cross homecoming game, leading Dartmouth with eight tackles, including two sacks and two more tackles for a loss. Sophomore safety Bun Straton, making his first career start, picked off a pair of Crusader passes to end both Holy Cross drives in the fourth quarter, while George made his mark on the two fumbles.

While the final score was all Dartmouth, it was host Holy Cross that burst out of the gate. After returning the opening kick 52 yards to the Crusader 45, Diquan Walker took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage for a 35-yard gain. Three plays later, quarterback Peter Pujals completed a pass to Jordan Montgomery, who evaded a tackler and cruised into the end zone for a quick 7-0 Holy Cross lead less than 90 seconds into the game.

Just about everything else went the Big Green’s way, however. Junior wideout Emory Thompson caught passes of 15 and 36 yards to take the Big Green down to the 10, then Hagdorn weaved his way for a touchdown on an end around, tying the game, 7-7.

The Dartmouth defense started to dig in its heels and thwarted a fourth-down play in Big Green territory. On the next Holy Cross drive, George  stripped the ball from a receiver after a completion, allowing senior nickelback Lucas Bavaro to secure it. The offense quickly converted the turnover into seven points, needing just three plays to cover 61 yards, the last 35 courtesy of Smith’s run for his first career touchdown and a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter.

Neither team could mount a charge for the rest of the half, and Holy Cross struggled to move the ball after Pujals left the game in the middle of the second quarter with an injury.

A defensive stand deep in Holy Cross territory with less than a minute left in the half forced the Crusaders to punt from their own end zone. Although the snap was delivered on the money, the punter fumbled it, and George took advantage by beating him to the ball for an unexpected touchdown and a 21-7 advantage at the intermission.

Dartmouth received the second-half kickoff and marched 65 yards in seven plays taking just 2:20 off the clock. Completions of 20 and 27 yards to Houston Brown were the key plays, while Stone completed the drive on a 4-yard burst through the line.

Crusader backup quarterback Geoff Wade managed to take Holy Cross into the red zone on the ensuing possession before Orimolade provided his first sack, forcing the Crusaders to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Zane Wasp, his first of the year.

The final score of the game ate up more than six minutes off the clock, thanks in part to a 4th-and-2 completion to Hagdorn, who picked up 34 yards on the play to the nine-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 10, Heneghan found junior tight end Cameron Skaff in the back of the end zone.

After Straton made a diving interception on the next play from scrimmage, Holy Cross still had one last chance to put points on the board thanks to blocking a 45-yard field goal attempt. The Crusaders advanced all the way to the Big Green three, but Wade’s pass was deflected by his receiver into Straton’s waiting arms for the pick and touchback. Dartmouth proceeded to run off the final 5:51 to bring the game to a close.

The Crusaders ran for 122 yards on 34 carries with Walker accounting for more than half of the yards with 64 on 13 rushes. Pujals was 12-of-18 passing for 90 yards and the lone Holy Cross touchdown despite playing just the first 21 minutes. Brendan Flaherty snared six passes for 46 yards. Montgomery added five catches for 48 and the TD.


Notes: Dartmouth took the lead in the all-time series with Holy Cross, 38-37-4. … The Big Green has won two straight in the series for the first time since 2002-03 (the teams have played every year since then except last year). … Dartmouth last had two straight games with at least 200 yards rushing and passing when it started the 2013 season with three in a row. … Eleven receivers caught passes for the Green in the game. … Dartmouth is 2-0 for the second year in a row. The last time the Green won its first two games in consecutive seasons was 1996-97.

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