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Fan base fed Dartmouth game’s hype
As the Dartmouth football team prepared to make history in its first-ever night game against the University of Pennsylvania, campus buzzed with excitement last week. Even pouring rain and cold conditions could not stop the Dartmouth faithful from supporting the Big Green on Saturday evening in the first after-dark matchup in the 89-year history of Memorial Field.
The team prepared for the game with raised expectations. In addition to the hype accompanying the first night game, the matchup was also against the defending Ivy League champion, adding another high stake to the already electric atmosphere.
“It’s Penn — it’s going to be one of our biggest games of the year even if it wasn’t a night game, and the night game is just going to make it that much more,“ quarterback Conner Kempe ’12 said before the game. “We lost in overtime last year so this would be a huge game to set a standard at night.”
Kempe said that while playing under the lights does not significantly impact the actual playing conditions — the sun actually plays more of a role than lights do — the new lights have reminded several players of their high school playing days.
“It’s definitely bringing back some old memories,” Kempe said. “You just feel different under the lights. There’s just something about it you can’t really put into words but it’s just really cool. It’s going to be an awesome atmosphere to play in.”
Although the football team mostly practiced as usual leading up to the game, fans readied to support the team differently, reflecting the game’s unprecedented hype.
The D-Block, a group that promotes fan support for the Big Green, sponsored a tailgate at Alpha Delta fraternity before the game. Alumni and several students on off-terms traveled to Hanover for the night.
Dylan Payne ’13, who is currently on an off-term in New York, said the game was an experience he did not want to miss, so he ventured back to Dartmouth for the occassion.
“I came up from New York and I’m really excited for the game,” he said.
Hanover residents and businesses also showed their support for the team during the week, and a banner hung over South Main Street to mark the occasion.
A large crowd came out to the game despite the pouring rain, and there was palpable electricity surrounding the stadium at kickoff. As the sun descended during the first quarter, the crowd’s excitement only increased.
Even after a costly turnover resulted in a 7-0 lead for Penn in the first quarter, fans showed full support for the Big Green.
“We’re playing Penn but I have full confidence in us,” Tara Basu ’14 said from the stands. “It feels great to be part of the Dartmouth spirit. When it comes to football, wow, I love to be a part of it.”
Fans continued cheering with vigor throughout the back-and-forth game, with particular bursts during big plays in the second half that gave Dartmouth its first lead late in the fourth quarter. Although some fans left at halftime as the rain became more steady, the crowd’s energy picked up — perhaps in anger or frustration — as Penn took the ball to try to engineer a game-winning drive.
“The end of the ballgame was as loud as it’s been as I can recall,” head coach Buddy Teevens said.
Dartmouth failed to hold the Quakers, who scored with 17 seconds on the clock to steal a 22-20 victory. Despite the loss, the team took several positives from the game, especially in regards to the fans.
“It was a great game, but we came up short,” running back Nick Schwieger ’12 said. “It was a great atmosphere. We got a lot of people to come out and weather the storm. We really appreciate that.”
While the outcome may have disappointed many Big Green fans, the football team’s strong effort in the tight contest may have ripple effects as Dartmouth continues its League push.
By Varun Ravishanker, The Dartmouth