Both looking to rebound from losses in week six, Harvard and Dartmouth faced off Saturday in a must-win matchup for each team.
The intensity showed. The Big Green (5-2, 2-2 Ivy) came out hot, scoring two quick touchdowns In the second half, though, the visitors faltered while the Crimson only gained steam. Erasing a 14-point Dartmouth lead, Harvard (4-3, 2-2 Ivy) took control and maintained that lead as time expired to win its 14th in a row against the Hanover, N.H., program.
Dartmouth is a fourth-quarter team. Tied for second in the Ivy League, the group has played exactly one game this season that has been determined by more than four points.
Against Holy Cross, the Big Green scored the go-ahead points in overtime. Against Penn, Dartmouth scored on fourth-and-goal as time expired. Against Yale, the team tallied 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown pass with 34 seconds left, to win by one. And against Sacred Heart, the cardiac competitors scored in the fourth quarter to take the final lead of the game.
On Saturday, facing a 25-14 deficit with 7:21 to go, the Big Green was down. But the team was far from out.
After all, prior to this game, Dartmouth had outscored opponents 45-9 in the final period.
Against Harvard, the script seemed likely to repeat. The Big Green started by driving the length of the field, earning a touchdown, and cutting the Crimson margin to three. Harvard got the ball back with 4:18 left and tried to bleed the remaining time. It was unsuccessful.
“We had control of that game,” junior linebacker Jack Traynor said. “We had a clear opportunity to take control and win that game.”
With 1:36 remaining, Dartmouth held the ball on its own 20. Now, it seemed, was the time for the prophesied Big Green comeback. That’s almost what happened.
Quarterback Jack Heneghan rattled off five straight passes, three of which were complete for five, 15, and 10 yards, respectively. That push moved the ball near midfield.
However, with about 1:15 left, Heneghan slung a low pass near the right hash. The ball took an unlucky bounce off Harvard senior cornerback Raishaun McGhee and floated just enough for senior safety Tanner Lee to stretch out and slip his arms beneath the ball. That interception halted the threatening Dartmouth campaign.
“It seems like every week we're in a battle [in] the last couple minutes,” Traynor said. “Up until that last interception, we thought we were right in it.”
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