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Football caps season with loss to Dartmouth

The Princeton football team, after a rollercoaster trip through Ivy League play this season, had their final game of 2015 this past Saturday, in which they lost 10-17 to the Dartmouth Big Green in Hanover, N.H.


The Tigers, (5-5 overall, 2-5 Ivy League) entered Saturday afternoon hoping to play the role of spoilers, knowing that Dartmouth (9-1, 6-1) had been one of the league’s strongest teams so far, and was currently gunning for a guaranteed share of the Ivy League title. History, however, was not on their side going in — the Tigers hadn’t earned a win against their counterparts from Hanover since the 2009 season.

From the get-go, there were ample signs that the defensive performances of both teams would rule the day. Each side was successful in forcing turnovers early on — the Big Green forced a fumble from junior running back Joe Rhattigan on the Tigers’ first drive. The men of the Orange and Black would return the favor, forcing a fumble on Dartmouth’s Brian Grove just three possessions later, with junior defensive back Brannon Jones picking up the recovery. Both sides would err once more in the early going, as Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams found his pass picked off by Sam Huffman. Princeton, however, would turn the ball right back after a fumble from senior running back DiAndre Atwater.

Indeed, the Tigers would get on the board first not due to a sustained drive, but from another Dartmouth error. A fumble on a kickoff return (and a subsequent recovery by the Tigers) set the Tigers up in great position (inside the Dartmouth 28 yard line) at the end of the first. Head coach Bob Surace ’90 capitalized on this field position by allowing Rhattigan and Atwater to pound the defense from the ground, with Atwater ultimately picking up the score to put the team ahead 7-0.

Princeton’s defense continued to hold strong, as Williams would get hit four times in the course of the second quarter. However, Princeton was unable to find the endzone again in their four drives on the quarter — their one opportunity to score, a field goal from senior kicker Nolan Bieck, didn’t find its way in.

Moreover, the Tigers would end the second quarter the same way the Big Green ended the first — losing the ball. As the Tigers stood at the Dartmouth 9 yard line, junior quarterback Chad Kanoff was sacked and proceeded to fumble the ball. Dartmouth, despite being down seven at home, had momentum on its side as the teams prepped for the third.

The Big Green would then capitalize on the turnover as they put up their first touchdown on the opening drive of the half. Princeton, however, responded with vigor, as Kanoff put together one of his stronger drives of the game, throwing four straight completions on route to the Tigers’ lone field goal of the game. A Tiger defense that was able to bring Williams down twice more in the quarter prevented Dartmouth from scoring in the entire third quarter.


For Princeton, however, an issue in Ivy League play has been maintaining leads going into the fourth quarter, exhibited in the matchups against Yale and Brown. In the fourth, this demon would rear its ugly head: very little was going the Tigers’ way offensively, as they put up four consecutive 3-and-outs. The Big Green, on the other hand, put together the scores they needed late in the game, first coming off a field goal with just about five minutes to go. Two Dartmouth possessions later, the Big Green would score the touchdown to delight the home crowd and break Tiger hearts.

With the loss, Princeton finishes their second straight season at 5-5. It is the team’s fourth straight season at or above .500.

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