HANOVER - It was happening again. The Dartmouth College football team, with four dramatic victories already this season, was poised for a fifth.
But on the last play of the game, from the Columbia 7-yard line, Lions linebacker Mike Hinton sacked quarterback Jack Heneghan and the clock ran out on the Big Green in a 22-17 loss in Saturday's Ivy League showdown at Memorial Field.
The defeat was the first of the season for Dartmouth, now 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the league. Columbia is 6-0 for the first time since 1986 and leading the Ivies at 3-0.
The fact that time expired before Dartmouth was able to run another play will be talked about for a while. Heneghan was down with about 10 seconds remaining, and as Big Green players scurried to line up - they were out of timeouts - the ball was boxed around a bit and officials were unable to place it down in time.
Ballgame - and plenty of hard feelings on the Dartmouth sidelines.
"But that's beyond our control and my control, and it's too bad we're talking about it," said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens.
Columbia dominated the first half in every way and led 16-0 at the break. But the Big Green, as they have done all autumn, rallied behind Heneghan, their senior leader.
On Dartmouth's first possession of the third quarter, Heneghan and company took only five plays to travel 58 yards. Dartmouth's other QB, Jared Gerbino, took it in from the 1 and it was a ballgame, 16-7.
Columbia responded, though. Hill, who finished 27 for 35, for 298 yards, engineered a drive that covered 80 yards and ended with a 2-yard TD plunge by Josh Bean, his second of the day. The Lions missed the PAT, and it was 22-7 with just over four minutes left in the quarter.
Dartmouth pulled closer by driving 64 yards in 11 plays, and made it 22-10 on a 33-yard field goal by St. Paul's School product David Smith.
The Big Green then capitalized on Hill's only bad decision, an interception in the end zone by Bun Straton. They proceeded to march 80 yards in seven plays. Heneghan (21 for 36, 331 yards) beat the blitz and found running back Drew Estrada for a 32-yard TD and it was 22-17 with 6:47 left.
By Dartmouth standards, that was still plenty of time. In fact, the Big Green would have two more possessions after a pair of Columbia three-and-outs. The first one died at the Lions' 27.
The final one began at the Dartmouth 31 with 58 seconds remaining. Heneghan hit Ryder Stone for 12 and 10 yards, and a horse collar penalty placed the ball at the Columbia 32. Heneghan scrambled for 15 more before hitting Emory Thompson for 10 yards to the 7.
And then came the sack by Hinton, who blitzed from Heneghan's blind side.