It didn’t look at first like Dartmouth would dominate Sunday’s quarterfinal against Stony Brook, as the Big Green were on the wrong side of the whistle and trailed 12-0 after the first 10 minutes.
“They’re a good team if they have go-forward ball. They have strong runners,” said Dartmouth coach Alex Magleby of Stony Brook.
“They play with a lot of width, if they can have a clear platform, and certainly we had a lot of penalties in the beginning that helped them out. As we were figuring out the ref, they took advantage of it. I’m pretty impressed with a couple of their runners, and their coach has done a pretty good job teaching them to play with some width.”
Two of those impressive runners are No. 8 Andrew Kozak and wing Eric Otoigiakhi, who dotted down the early tries for the Seawolves.
Dartmouth’s penalty troubles reached a climax when inside center Derek Fish was yellow carded in the 15th minute for the Big Green’s repeated infringements.
With Fish in the bin, Dartmouth nearly got on the board twice, knocking on in-goal and just short of pay dirt another time.
The Big Green finally did score when Clark Judge dotted down in the 25th minute, and again in the 29th minute when lock Nate Brakeley thundered in after catching a long lineout pass. After freshman fullback Madison Hughes’ conversion, the early deficit was erased.
Hughes slotted a penalty a few minutes later and set up the next score by breaking through a tackle on a counterattack and offloading to Ryan Milligan for a try, which Hughes converted, to put Dartmouth up 22-12 at halftime.
The Big Green continued to take the air out of the ball in the second half, owning possession and territory. Otoigiakhi and Michael St. Clair combine for maybe the most lethal wing combination in all of DI-AA, but the Seawolves’ speedsters weren’t able to get any ball in space.
“After we caught our breathe after the first 10 minutes we were bale to squeeze the game at that point,” said Magleby. “It wasn’t pretty rugby in any way, but it was effective…Just have the ball down in their end, and they’ll tire out. Opportunities will come.”
Dartmouth added three tries, a conversion and a penalty goal in the second half to round out the lopsided victory.
Impressive on the day was Hughes, who bagged 12 points with his boot, but also played well with ball in hand.
“He’s a handy player,” said Magleby of Hughes. “Just the first year and he’s done well. Junior All-American. He’s a good player.”
In the final four for the first time since since 1988, the Big Green draw defending champs Davenport in the semifinals May 18 in Sandy, Utah.