This post has been updated.
Coming off its first Ivy League victory of the season last weekend at Penn, Cornell football aimed to build a late-season surge and knock off No. 22 Dartmouth, which stood atop the Ancient Eight standings.
Two years before, the Red channeled some magic in its 20-17 upset of Dartmouth, which was undefeated at the time. Cornell hoped to play spoiler on Saturday in Hanover, New Hampshire, but the Big Green quickly squashed any hope of an upset. Dartmouth dominated in the first half, shutting out the Red and scoring four touchdowns, ultimately cruising to a 41-7 victory.
On Dartmouth’s opening drive, the Big Green (8-1, 5-1 Ivy League) looked poised for a touchdown under the guide of senior quarterback Derek Kyler — who threw for 63 yards on 3-of-3 passing to quickly march Dartmouth down into the red zone.
Down by the goal line, Dartmouth quarterback Nick Howard moved the ball just shy of the end zone. On the ensuing play, junior linebacker Jake Stebbins recorded a massive sack on Howard, pushing the Big Green back. Dartmouth whiffed on third down and on the ensuing field goal attempt as placekicker Connor Davis’s attempt was denied by the upright.
But Dartmouth responded very quickly. After the Red (2-7, 1-5) went three-and-out on its first drive, the Big Green took advantage of favorable field position after a 27-yard punt by senior punter Koby Kiefer.
Dartmouth found the first score on an eight-play drive, and the key play was a Big Green conversion on 3rd-and-10 in which wide receiver Dale Chesson made several Cornell defenders miss. Shortly after, Howard cashed in on a five-yard touchdown run to put Dartmouth up 7-0.
“We got off to a very slow start, and we gave [Dartmouth] some assistance too, which can’t happen,” said head coach David Archer ’05.
Cornell’s offense again could not move the ball, gaining six yards on six plays during its first two drives. Even worse, Kiefer shanked a punt, this one only going for 16 yards. With Dartmouth taking over on the Red’s 46-yard line, it made quick work of the Cornell defense. On the first play of the second quarter, running back Noah Roper spun his way out of a tackle and rumbled into the end zone from the 13-yard line, doubling Dartmouth’s lead to 14.
“That first quarter, Dartmouth held the ball for 12 minutes,” Archer said, noting the stark difference in time of possession during the first quarter.
The Big Green took over on its own 39-yard line after the Red’s third-straight three-and-out. Up to this point, Cornell had accumulated just six yards on nine plays. Meanwhile, Dartmouth racked up 162 yards en route to two scores. In the first positive turn for the Red, the defense contained Kyler on the next drive, making Dartmouth go three-and-out and punt back to Cornell.
The Red then generated some positive gains on offense, recording a first down for the first time midway through the second quarter. The drive stalled at 4th-and-1 past midfield, but a false start by Cornell wiped away the fourth-down opportunity and resulted in a punt.
Despite starting out on its own 10-yard line, the Big Green traversed the entire field in just five plays. The big catalyst was a 75-yard run down the right side by Howard to flip the field. Moments later, Howard notched his second rushing touchdown of the day from two yards out, making the score 21-0 in Dartmouth’s favor.
Jamal Cooney returned a punt for 34 yards, setting up the Big Green in excellent field position yet again at the Cornell 33-yard line. Dartmouth took advantage of an unnecessary roughness penalty on third-and-long to keep the drive, which the team punctuated with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Kyler to Chesson.
All told, Dartmouth out-gained Cornell, 284-43, in total yardage and recorded 13 first downs in comparison to the Red’s measly mark of just two. Dartmouth’s defense, which entered the game as the conference’s top unit in allowing only 13.7 points per game, completely shut down the Red’s offense. Cornell entered halftime down 28-0, but it chipped away at the lead to kick off the latter two frames.
Freshman quarterback Jameson Wang and freshman running back Eddy Tillman opened the game up in the air and on the ground, respectively, with Wang finding senior wide receiver Thomas Glover for a 31-yard gain. Senior running back Devon Brewer then found an opening on 3rd-and-goal, scoring from the 1-yard line to make it 28-7.
Dartmouth immediately retorted with a score of its own to increase its lead to 28. Howard capped off the drive with his legs, first ripping a 21-yard and then immediately following that with his third touchdown of the day on a 20-yard scamper.
As the Cornell offense continued to sputter, Howard added another touchdown for further insurance. On a 32-yard run up the middle, Howard upped his touchdown total to four and went up to 172 yards rushing.
“We’re entering week 10 of a physical football season, and we have to regroup going into Columbia,” Archer said. “We want to end the season on a good memory for the seniors.”
Cornell will try to regroup for its final contest of the season against Columbia. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Schoellkopf Field.