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Why We Love FCS: The Miracle in Cambridge, the worst kicking performance in CFB History, and Monmouth’s dominance

In a fitting tribute to the 150th anniversary of College Football, Dartmouth engineered a miracle in Harvard Stadium.

Aerial View Of Harvard Stadium Photo by Harry Holbrook/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Dartmouth beats Harvard with a miracle

By now, you probably know why I’m talking about Dartmouth-Harvard. With 6 seconds left, #13 Dartmouth’s perfect season seemed to be coming to an end. Harvard led 6-3 with the Big Green on the Crimson’s 43-yard line. Then, this happened.

Derek Kyler, the second-string junior quarterback who was thrust into action after a first-half injury to Jared Garbino, will live on forever in Dartmouth lore for this pass. Junior wideout Masaki Aerts (pronounced “Arts”) will also go down as a Big Green legend for catching his first-career touchdown on this play. On the flip side, the headline of the article on this game from the official Dartmouth Athletics websiteThe Aerts-ful Dodger: No. 14/15 Dartmouth Wins on Hail Mary—will live on the internet forever. Just be cool for once, Dartmouth.

Harvard head coach Tim Murphy told The Harvard Crimson that the team got their “guts ripped out.” Which is fair because Harvard really should not have lost this game. The Crimson defense played damn-near perfect as they held the highest scoring team in FCS to just 3 points, forced six punts, and snagged two interceptions. With 1:31 left in the game and Dartmouth on their own 12-yard line, the defensive line collapsed on Kyler and picked up what should have been the game-sealing fumble.

At this point, Harvard had a 99.9% chance of winning according to ESPN’s win probability tracker. Yet, the Crimson still managed to lose because of a few miscues. Two missed field goals by Jake McIntyre, RB Devin Darrington going out of bounds with 1:17 left to give Dartmouth enough time for the miracle, and DB Isaiah Wingfield tipping a hail mary pass straight up in the air will keep the team up at night for a while.

The Miracle at Cambridge (we need a better name) instantly becomes the defining image of this rivalry’s history after 123 meetings between the teams. Harvard crushed the Big Green for two solid decades, going 20-1 from 1997-2017 with 14 straight victories until Dartmouth finally won last year. Dartmouth had not won in Cambridge since 2003 before Saturday.

The recently ended dominance is reminiscent of how the Harvard-Dartmouth rivalry started. The Crimson won the first 18 games the two teams played from 1882-1903. Dartmouth didn’t score until the second century of this rivalry in 1901.

The Big Green (known as the Indians then) ended that streak by beating Harvard in the first-ever game played at Harvard Stadium in 1903. It is an embarrassing fact of the rivalry for Harvard that comes up every time the teams play in Cambridge. Now the highlight of the Miracle will also come up every time the teams play there.

(FYI: Dartmouth plays Princeton at 3:30 pm EST on Saturday in Yankee Stadium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the sport, which is today. Both teams are undefeated. They are in the top 7 of Bill Connelly’s FCS S&P+ with Dartmouth’s 2nd-ranked offense going up against Princeton’s 4th-ranked defense. It’ll be awesome, tune in.)

The worst kicking performance in CFB History

I don’t think we will never see anything quite like what we saw between William & Mary and Elon Saturday. W&M beat the Phoenix 31-28 in five overtimes. It was the longest FCS game this season and the second-longest ever. The Tribe desperately needed the win, their first road and conference win, in year one under head coach Mike London.

But, the truly special (or not so special) part of this game was the kicking. On a clear, beautiful North Carolina day, Elon went three-for-six on field goals while William & Mary hit just one of their seven attempts. That is NINE MISSED FIELD GOALS between the teams.

I have not found another game in modern college football history where the teams combined for nine missed field goals. Jake Johnston, the Tribe’s short-range kicker, bore the brunt of the kicking misses. He went one-of-four on field goals and missed an extra point. He came into this game making 75% of his attempts. He finished the game at 58%. He was ranked 24th in FCS for FG%, now he is 68th.

W&M tried two other kickers, who missed three attempts. Elon’s Skylar Davis was better, going for three-for-six. However, every single kicker that I have mentioned missed a game-winning field goal attempt.

The funniest miss came with 5:50 left in the 4th quarter. Mike London sent out Johnston for a 23-yard chip shot to put the Tribe up 6. After Johnston lined up, London called a timeout to think over going for it on fourth-and-six. He again chose to kick it, so Johnston went back out. Unwittingly, William & Mary’s coach just iced his own kicker. Johnston’s kick sailed wide-right.

By the time that the fourth overtime came, both teams were dead. Each went three-and-out before giving their kickers one more chance. We all knew how that chance would go. Davis missed a 34-yarder for Elon. George Eberle, William & Mary’s backup punter, missed from 37 yards somewhat valiantly (and almost made the kick). Mercifully for everyone involved, there are no field goal attempts allowed after four overtimes.

Monmouth unleashes years of frustration on Kennesaw

Kennesaw State decided to start playing football in 2015 and, almost immediately, started dominating the Big South Conference. The Owls lost four conference games in their first year, which is double their number of conference losses in the three years since. They had not lost a regular-season home game since October 2016.

Monmouth has suffered greatly at the hands of Kennesaw State. The small private school on the Jersey Shore, that plays in the Big South for some reason, has only lost two conference games in the past two seasons. Both losses came at the hands of the Owls. Monmouth is 0-4 all-time against KSU, getting outscored by 100 points in the past three games.

Monmouth took all of that bad energy out on #4 Kennesaw on Saturday. The Hawks went on the road and beat KSU 45-21 in Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Monmouth took an early 17-7 lead, then just detonated. From 2:13 left in the second quarter to the middle of the third quarter, Monmouth possessed the ball on six plays. Here’s what happened on those plays:

  • RB Pete Guerriero 10-yard TD run (24-7)
  • DB Tymere Berry 41-yard interception return for a TD (31-7)
  • QB Kenji Bahar finds WR Zach Tredway for a 92-yard touchdown (38-7)
  • Fair catch on a punt
  • Guerriero one-yard run
  • Bahar 65-yard touchdown run (45-7)

The game went from simmering upset to full-on shocking blowout in less than a quarter. Bahar, a redshirt senior with legit NFL hopes, accounted for 424 yards and two touchdowns to secure the upset. The huge upset not only gets the Kennesaw monkey off Monmouth but also puts them in the driving seat for the Big South championship.