Comeback! When a sports fan hears the word, he is probably thinking of the Bills playoff win over the Oilers in 1993 or the Red Sox winning four straight games against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Now, Colgate sports fans will have another game come to mind when they think comeback: Raider football’s 31-28 come-from-behind victory against Dartmouth last Saturday.
The game began disastrously for the Raiders. After going three-and-out on its first possession, Colgate was forced to punt the ball away. On the ensuing drive, Dartmouth drove from the 48-yard line to the end zone in under two minutes to take a 7-0 lead when quarterback Tom Bennewitz found Eric Paul. Things went form bad to worse for Colgate when sophomore wideout Wayne Moten fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff return. Dartmouth took over at the Colgate 28 and quickly upped their advantage to 14-0 after a Carro Papajohn touchdown catch. Colgate’s efforts to close the gap were hampered by a plethora of turnovers. Before the half, junior quarterback Alex Relph threw three picks and junior wideout David Morgan lost a fumble to bring Colgate’s turnover total in the half to five. The second Relph interception gave the Big Green the ball the Colgate nine. It took just one play, a run by speedy running back Milan Williams, to put Dartmouth up 21-0. The Big Green took that lead into the half.
Colgate hoped to come out strong to start the second half, but its hopes were dashed early as Dartmouth drove 81 yards on the opening possession of the third quarter to take a 28-0 lead on a 60-yard bomb from Bennewitz to Brian Evans. It was Bennewitz’s third touchdown of the day.
Some college football teams may give up after finding themselves in a 28-0 hole. Not Colgate. The Raiders battled back, scoring on their very next drive after junior running back Jordan Scott scored on a one-yard run. The Hyattsville, MD native had 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the day.
“To start with, he’s a good running back,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said about Scott’s performance. “Also I think the offensive line got better and better as the game went on.”
The Raiders went for two and failed, but they stopped the Big Green on fourth and 11 at the Raider 29 on the next possession. Less than two minutes later, Scott was back in the end zone on a seven-yard run to make the score 28-13. The key play on the drive was a 41-yard pass from Relph to senior wide receiver Erik Burke. Burke passed the 100-yard receiving mark for the second straight week, catching seven passes on the day for 126 yards.
After Dartmouth kicker Andrew Kempler missed a 39-yard field goal, the Raiders struck for a third time when Relph threw a 19-yard pass to sophomore wideout Pat Simonds, cutting the deficit to eight. With 9:21 left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders got the ball back with a chance to tie the game up. Dartmouth, though, appeared to deal the Raiders a crippling blow when Rehan Muttalib recovered an Alex Relph fumble. However, the resilient Colgate defense got the ball right back when junior cornerback Chris Ekpo both forced and recovered a fumble by Williams.
“That play allowed us to get the momentum back,” Biddle said.
On the ensuing drive, Scott had an electrifying 33-yard touchdown run to pull the Raiders within two. Then, a clutch Relph found Simonds for a two-point conversion to tie the game.
“The offense limited the turnovers and penaltiesin the second half,” Scott remarked about his team’s offensive turnaround. “We moved the ball successfully in the first half, but shot ourselves in the foot with self-inflicted mistakes. So, in the second half we focused on limiting mistakes we could control.”
For a while it looked like Colgate’s dramatic comeback would be all for naught as Dartmouth worked its way all the way down to the Colgate five. However, the Raiders forced another fumble that was recovered by junior linebacker Ted Marshall. Colgate ran out the last few seconds to force overtime.
In the extra frame, the defense came up big yet again as Dartmouth went four-and-out, capped off by sophomore safety Uzi Idah’s first career interception. After three Scott runs got Colgate to the 19, senior Mike Buck drilled the 36-yard kick through the uprights to give the Raiders a 31-28 win that stunned and saddened the Big Green faithful.
“It was one of those perfect moments where your mind goes completely blank and you don’t think about anything,” kicker Mike Buck noted. “The snap, protection, and hold were all absolutely perfect and I knew the ball was good pretty much immediately after I hit it.”
Senior linebacker Mike Gallihguh amassed 15 tackles and was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for his extraordinary efforts.
Colgate sports a 2-1 record heading into a bye week. The Raiders’ next game will be at home on September 29th against Fordham.