New Hampshire Football Report

Dartmouth set for return

Dartmouth (0-0) at Valparaiso (0-2)
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 | 2 PM | ESPN3
Brown Field | Valparaiso, Ind.

Dartmouth will open its 139th season of football when it faces Valparaiso of the Pioneer Football League on Saturday.


The Big Green haw won 10 straight season openers and 16 consecutive non-conference contests. The last team to beat Dartmouth in the first game of the season was Colgate (2009) and the last team outside the Ivy League to knock off the Green was a nationally ranked New Hampshire squad in 2014.

Dartmouth was picked to finish third in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll,
Dartmouth lost a plethora of starters — eight on offense and 10 of the 11 on defense, but head coach Buddy Teevens has a strong nucleus of leaders that led him to name four captains for just the fourth time in program history — LB Tanner Cross, QB Derek Kyler, TE Robbie Mangas and SS Niko Mermigas.

Kyler is the most accurate passer ever at Dartmouth having completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 2,437 yards and 25 touchdowns while being picked off five times. His veteran leadership behind center is sure to pay big dividends with a talented but mostly inexperienced receiving corps. The current crop of pass catchers has hauled in only 64 passes between them, and none has caught even as many as 10 in a season.

The current career leader in receptions with 15 also happens to be second on the current career rushing charts (trailing only Kyler) as well in RB Zack Bair. He missed the last seven games of 2019 with an injury but is expected to get the bulk of the carries with Keegan McHugh and Noah Roper also seeing action in the backfield.

The defense will have a stout secondary, anchored by Mermigas at strong safety with superb cover men on the corners in Isaiah Johnson and DeWayne Terry Jr. But in order for the defense to come close to repeating its standing as the second-stingiest unit in the FCS each of the past two seasons (12.2 points per game allowed the last 20 games), new faces will have to step up on the defensive line and among the linebackers.

The kicking game starts with PK Connor Davis, who enters the season having converted 45 consecutive PATs, six shy of matching the school record. Cameron Baller has won the punting responsibilities to start the year, though rookie Davis Golick will be in the mix, as will Joe Kramer, who also happens to be one of the Big Green’s tight ends. Consistency will be the key in this realm.

Scouting the Beacons
Valparaiso has had a rough start to the 2021 fall season after surprising people by going 4-2 during the COVID-shortened spring season, tying for second in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. Following a season-opening loss to NAIA Indiana Wesleyan, 28-10, the Beacons took their lumps at perennial national-title contender, No. 4 North Dakota State, 64-0.

The offense features running back Robert Washington, who was the Spring 2021 PFL Offensive Player of the Year after averaging nearly 130 yards per game on the ground. But the senior was held to just nine yards on 15 carries against the Bison last week, though most teams have trouble moving the ball against that defense.

Junior Teryn Berry is listed as the starter for Valpo after not playing last week. In the season opener, he completed half of his 30 passes but was also picked off four times. Backup Ben Nimz has performed well behind center thus far, hitting on 10-of-15 throws, mostly underneath, for 67 yards.

Slot receiver Jordan Bingham leads the Beacons with eight receptions and 78 yards, while Ollie Reese has been more of a big-play receiver, averaging 16.5 yards on his four catches to date.

It’s difficult to judge a defense after playing NDSU, which ran for 458 yards in the game. Middle linebacker Jaxon Peifer leads the squad with 14 tackles, while safety Kohlton Sherman and corner Keyon Turner have 13 stops apiece.

Four defenders have one sack, including Peifer and safety Austin Chilton, who also is responsible for Valparaiso’s lone interception.

On special teams, Brian Bartholomew converted one of his two field goal attempts in the opener, converting a 34-yarder while missing from 38. Punter Ben Neisner has performed quite well, averaging 41.5 yards on his 11 boots with a long of 58 and three landing inside the 20.

The Beacons are coached by Landon Fox (Defiance ’00) in his third season at the helm. This past spring he was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, which goes to the FCS Coach of the Year, after guiding the team to its best winning percentage since 2003. The former assistant coach at PFL rival Dayton for 11 years has a record of 5-15 entering the weekend.


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