PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Dartmouth and Brown combined for 138 plays in Saturday’s key Ivy League game.
Arguably one was more important than the rest as the Big Green rallied for a 29-23 victory, which clinched a record 19th Ivy League championship.
With 23 seconds left in the first quarter and Brown leading 10-7, David Chalmers and Seth Simmer stopped Allen Smith cold on fourth-and-one from Dartmouth’s 6.
If Brown (2-8, 1-6) had scored, the tenor of the game could have changed.
“They clogged it up,” coach Buddy Teevens said. “We had to stop them in a critical situation. That inspired the offense as well.
“The nice thing was the cohesion on the side. It was never ‘us’ and ‘them,’ it was ‘we.’ We’ve got to stop them. We’ve got to score. It’s nice to see the guys believe in each other so much. This was a wonderful collective effort.”
Since Yale beat Harvard, 50-43 in double overtime, and because the league only recognizes records and not head-to-head competition, Dartmouth and the Bulldogs (both 6-1, 9-1), shared the Ivy title.
To say Dartmouth’s offense was inspired was an understatement since it churned out 439 yards of offense. Quarterback Derek Kyler led the way by completing 19-of-23 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns — his fourth being the game winner.
On third and five from Brown’s 39, Kyler connected with Drew Estrada for a touchdown with 6:51 left in regulation. Kyler then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Hunter Hagdorn to overcome a 23-21 Brown lead.
Even though Brown (2-8, 1-6) led 23-14 after three quarters, Kyler wasn’t overly concerned.
“You get a little antsy with time trickling away at the end,” Kyler said. “I knew we had put drives together the whole game but we weren’t executing in the red zone. I knew we could drive the ball and that’s what we did toward the end.
“In that type of situation as a competitor you don’t want to be worried. You want to go out there and make plays.”
Defensive back Isiah Swann denied Brown a miracle finish when he intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone with 27 seconds left after the Bears drove to Dartmouth’s 14.
“At the start of any drive, I think I’m going to get an interception,” Swann said. “You have to be ready to make the play.”
Swann and his teammates had their hands full since Brown quarterback E.J. Perry completed 31 of 45 passes for 412 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve played against in my four years here,” Swann said. “He can run and throw. It was going to be a challenge and we embraced the challenge.
“They moved the ball on us but we held them to some field goals and gave the offense a chance to get back in the game.”
Dawson Goepfreich’s 22-yard field goal gave Brown a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second the Bears covered 73 yards in six plays with Perry tossing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Emerson Logie.
Dartmouth countered with a 75-yard, five-play drive that culminated with Kyler passing 31 yards to Caylin Parker for a score that made it 10-7 at halftime.
Brown began the second half by driving to Dartmouth’s 6 only to settle for another Goepferich field goal, a 23-yarder.
“Our defensive mentality is they have to work for every single yard even if it’s at the 1, 3 or 5-yard line,” Swann said. “It doesn’t matter. They’re going to work for touchdowns.”
Dartmouth led for the first time when Kyler tossed a 24-yard scoring pass to Hagdorn for a 14-13 lead. But Goepfreich’s 23-yard field goal enabled Brown to regain the lead – which they increased to 23-14 when Perry wedged over from the 1 on a drive that required only six plays to cover 78 yards.
The Big Green commenced their rally early in the fourth with an 85-yard, five-play drive (all on passes) with Kyler connecting with Drew Estrada for a 14-yard score to cut Brown’s lead to 23-21.
Dartmouth then forced Brown to go three and out, which preceded the team’s game-winning drive.
EXTRA POINTS: Teevens’ 105th victory set a school record for most in a career, one more then legendary coach Bob Blackman … Estrada finished his career with 110 receptions, which enabled him to become the 14th player in school history with 100 … Hagdorn caught 10 passes for 152 yards and became the sixth player in school history with 2,000 yards in his career … Perry set an Ivy League record for total offense in one season with 3,678 yards … Nashua’s Demitiri Jackson caught three passes for 55 yards for Brown.