Dartmouth High football holds off Old Rochester to win a shootout game

Sep 24, 2022

After starting the season with only two touchdowns in as many games, the Dartmouth High football team opened up the scoring on Friday night against Old Rochester, holding off a would-be comeback from their coastal rivals to win 24-21.

“We executed the game plan for the most part, we put some points up — which we haven’t been able to do in the first two games — and our defense bent a little but we didn’t really break,” said Dartmouth Head Coach Rick White after the game. “So I was proud of our kids tonight. This is probably one of the most proud moments I’ve had after a game with a young team.”

The game was a true tale of two halves as Dartmouth got off to an early lead, scoring three touchdowns in the first half to lead 21-7 at halftime.

“In the first half we played exceptionally and that was the key,” White said.

The first to find the endzone was Dartmouth junior running back Louie Freitas, who turned the corner on an outside run from the 8-yard line, breaking tackles as he fought his way in for a touchdown.

Though Old Rochester’s offense ran hard in its first possession, the drive stalled out after a holding penalty left them at fourth-and-14 at the Dartmouth 30-yard line.

But the Bulldogs decided to go for it, targeting senior wide receiver Landon Maxwell deep in the end zone for a miraculous score that tied the game at seven apiece.

Dartmouth’s next possession failed to get going, forcing a punt from midfield that the Indians downed inside the 15-yard line.

On first-and-10, Old Rochester senior quarterback Noah Sommers fumbled the snap which was recovered by the Indians’ junior lineman Josh Carreiro, giving the team the ball back with great field position.

After a nice run by Dartmouth junior quarterback Nikko Morris that put the team on the two-yard line, sophomore running back Ray Gramlich evaded a tackle and punched in the team’s second touchdown of the night, making the score 14-7.

On the Bulldogs’ next drive, the visitors were able to work the ball downfield with a strong running game and a 30-yard scramble from Sommers who broke six consecutive tackles on the play.

But Old Rochester’s senior running back Jacksen Martin came up short on a fourth-and-one run, giving Dartmouth the ball back on their own 20-yard line with about three and a half minutes left in the first half.

The home team moved the ball methodically on the drive, breaking some key runs and getting out of bounds to stop the clock after two passes downfield.

On fourth down from the 25, with three seconds left on the clock, Dartmouth ran a hail mary, sending all five wide receivers straight for the endzone. As the defense swarmed around Morris, he let loose a last-second pass toward the end zone.

A swarm of players jumped up to catch the ball as it arced over the five-yard line. Sophomore wide receiver Markus Andrews was the first to touch it, but couldn’t bring it in.

Instead, he tipped it up and into the end zone where senior wide receiver Graham White was placed perfectly to grab it out of the air and step into the end zone, giving Dartmouth a 21-7 lead going into halftime.

“That was a proud moment,” said Coach White, whose son made the catch.

But Old Rochester would not go down without a fight. The team came back strong after the break, outscoring the Indians 14-3 in the second half.

In the end, the contest came down to a last-minute drive from Old Rochester, whose offense was pinned deep in their own end, down by three points with less than two minutes left in the game.

After a few quick outs, a key unnecessary roughness penalty against Dartmouth, and a 20-yard catch and run on a screen pass, Old Rochester lined up at the Dartmouth 35 yard line with just over a minute remaining.

After the ball was snapped, Bulldogs quarterback Noah Sommers pump faked to his left before turning his eyes down field. With the pass rush bearing down on him, Sommers fired deep down field for wide receiver Landon Maxwell who was singled up with Dartmouth cornerback Graham White.

As the two went up for the ball, it appeared that the visitors might have taken a late-game lead, but as the dust cleared, it was White who had the ball in his hands.

The last minute interception sealed the victory for the Indians and added another highlight to White’s already impressive performance.

After the game, Coach White praised the Old Rochester team for coming back and keeping the game interesting.

“I didn’t expect Old Rochester to lay down, right, so we knew they were going to come at us hard in the second half — which is exactly what they did,” he said. “They never quit, so we’ve gotta give their kids a lot of credit.”

He added that the matchup with the Bulldogs is always a good one.

“They’re just a good football team, you know. Every year we battle with them,” he said. “Since we started playing them it’s been a great rivalry.”

The Dartmouth Indians are now 2-1 on the season. Their next game will be away against Apponequet (2-1) next Friday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m.