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Ivy League Football: Big Green rally, win a stunner

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 08. 2017 2:32AM

HANOVER - It appears you can't count out the Dartmouth College football team under any circumstances this season. The Big Green simply won't let it happen.

Dartmouth has had to come back in each of its last three victories, with the latest theatrics coming in Saturday's 28-27 win over Yale at Memorial Stadium. Down 24-7 at halftime, the 4-0 Big Green strung together their largest comeback since 1999 to overcome the previously unbeaten Bulldogs (3-1). Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan hit Drew Hunnicutt from 15 yards out on fourth-and-5 with 34 seconds remaining to cap a game-winning 69-yard drive.

"This is a first and I mean, how do you deal with it?" said Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens of the team's recent knack for dramatics. "If it keeps happening then I guess we'll just have to keep figuring it out. That's a good football team we beat there."

Yale was by far the better team in the first half, with advantages in total yards (310-56) and first downs (17-2) while holding Dartmouth to 1-of-7 efficiency on third down. The Bulldogs were up 21-0 at one point from three Kurt Rawlings TD passes and big plays from receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez (146 receiving yards) to set up scores.

While it didn't feel like it in the stadium at the time, Isiah Swann's 47-yard interception return at just before the two-minute warning in the first half was a big momentum boost for the Big Green. Yale managed a field goal as time expired on the opening half, but even Yale head coach Tony Reno knew the significance of Swann's return.

"The most insignificant score in a football game is the halftime score," Reno said. "It's a swing of points and momentum. We were moving the ball really well at that point and then we look to throw it to the sideline and (Swann) makes a nice play. We end up with a field goal after, but it's still a four-point swing."

Teevens was dissatisfied with all facets of Dartmouth's effort, but called out Heneghan in front of the team at halftime, telling the senior he needed to be better.

Heneghan's ability to rise to the challenge was eye-opening, as he threw three second-half touchdowns and amassed 276 of his 314 passing yards over the final 30 minutes.

"He was stoic and acknowledged it but I pulled him off to the side and told him there was a reason I did it," Teevens said. "I wanted him to go play and that's exactly what he did. He was unflappable while making some big throws in tight situations."

Hunnicutt started Dartmouth's second-half fun with a 30-yard TD catch three minutes into the the third quarter while Dylan Mellor made caught a 40-yard score on his fingertips to get the Big Green to within 27-21 with 6:10 to play.

After turning Yale over on its own 31-yard line with 4:24 left, Dartmouth took seven plays, including three big rushes from Heneghan, to get into the red zone. Heneghan proceeded to hit Hunnicutt over the middle for the winning score to cap the drive.

"The offensive linemen just gave Jack so much time on that last drive," Hunnicutt said. "Without everybody doing the job, it couldn't have been done. We had a little crossing route (on the game-winning touchdown) where I had a different guy on me than who had been there the entire game. . As soon as I caught it, I had the time to secure it and I hugged it like no other."

Overshadowed by Dartmouth's offensive triumphs in the second half was the renewed effort from the Big Green defense. Yale was limited to just 133 yards of offense in the second half while still holding nearly 15 minutes of possession over the final two quarters. The Bulldogs were forced to punt on four of their five possessions in the second half as well.

"The coaches did a good job recognizing what they were trying to do to us," Dartmouth cornerback Danny McManus said. "They went to a lot of wheel routes on us, which kind of hurt. We made the adjustments and really shut them down."

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