Dartmouth beat St. Bonaventure 30-22 in a DI-AA Quarterfinal in Pittsburgh, Pa. that teetered back and forth until the Big Green were able to go up two scores in the second half.
St. Bonaventure opened the scoring in the game with a try, and Dartmouth quickly responded with its own, installing the pattern that would carry one through halftime. The Bonnies took a 15-13 lead into intermission having hit one more conversion than Dartmouth.
Like they were in playoff locations across the United States, the fields in Pittsburgh were saturated, creating a slippery playing surface and dictating a forward-oriented game. In the early goings, St. Bonaventure’s forwards were the aggressors.
“They were just taking us on up front around the fringes. They played a pretty good kicking game, just pinning us back,” said Dartmouth coach Gavin Hickie of SBU.
“We found it a little bit hard to get out of our half in the first half. At halftime we realized what we’ve got to do, and we’ve got to start taking it to their pack and that’s when we got on top.”
The Big Green took the lead early in the second half after a series of pick-and-gos. St. Bonaventure nearly jumped back in front, but had a try called back for a forward pass. Dartmouth All American Madison Hughes then broke the game open when he scored off an open-field scamper, putting Dartmouth up 27-15.
Hughes then slotted a penalty before St. Bonaventure scored a try at the death.
“We’re very happy,” said Hickie. “It was a messy game today just from the conditions, but we got through and we’ve got our eyes firmly on Ohio now.”
Dartmouth got the rare opportunity to compete in two postseasons this spring, having been knocked out of the Varsity Cup by Navy prior to the DI-AA Sweet 16.
“I’m a 15s purist, as much as I love 7s, and I would like our 15s season to go as long as possible,” said Hickie.
“We want to be in the Varsity Cup. We want to compete against the very best, and we’re still disappointed in our loss to Navy last week, but any 15s we can play, we’re firmly focused on it. And we’ve made no secret our aim is to go win this DI-AA title.”
Dartmouth is the only team returning to the semifinals from the 2012 Final Four, where the Big Green were ousted by Davenport 35-18.