According to Harvard coach Tim Murphy, Dawson strained a muscle in his side early in the fourth quarter and did not return for the remainder of the game. To that point he had mustered just 69 yards on 21 carries, scoring no touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Big Green tailback Chad Gaudet did his best Dawson impression, finishing with 102 yards on 16 carries out of the backfield, punctuated by a 60-yard touchdown burst in the third quarter that looked an awful lot like a trademark Dawson breakaway.
The ground game has not been Dartmouth’s forte this season. Before Saturday, the Big Green was averaging just 66.5 yards rushing per contest, instead relying heavily on a passing game that led starting quarterback Charlie Rittgers to the second-best passing total in the Ivies, ahead of even Harvard’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But with Rittgers benched in favor of backup Dan Shula, Dartmouth’s offense had a distinctly different look, particularly in the second half.
“We’ve been really struggling running the ball, and it felt good to see us outgain them,” said Big Green coach John Lyons.
KICKIN’ IT OLD SCHOOL
Harvard’s much maligned kicking game underwent yet another shakeup Saturday, one of many it has seen in recent years. But unlike previous lineup shuffles, this one was due to injury and not lack of performance.
Junior punter Mike King, solid throughout the 2004 campaign, suffered a sprained deltoid ligament in his left ankle, forcing Clem McDavid to assume the punting duties.
The sophomore performed well in his first start, booting seven punts for an average of 36.6 yards per kick. Three of those landed inside the 20, including one downed at the Dartmouth 3-yard line.
King remains day-to-day and may return for this Saturday’s matchup against Columbia.
Freshman Matt Schindel, on the other hand, enjoyed mixed results, notching field goals from 38 and 39 yards away—the latter his longest of the season—while missing a crucial 34-yarder wide left. Another of his kicks was blocked as the first half expired.
Harvard’s defense, maligned earlier this season and branded the team’s weaker half, turned in yet another dominant performance on Saturday, holding Dartmouth under 300 yards of total offense and forcing 10 punts.
Normally, the Crimson has reserved its best play for the second half, surrendering just 26 points in the final 30 minutes and just one touchdown in the fourth quarter entering Saturday’s game. But against Dartmouth, Harvard was dominant early, not just shutting the Big Green out in the first half, but not allowing its offense to cross midfield until the third quarter.
That dominance wavered after halftime, though, as Dartmouth adjusted to the Crimson front seven and Harvard’s tacklers poorly executed.