By: Rick Bender
HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth defensive end Niko Lalos was chosen as the Gold Helmet Award winner this week as the region’s top player for Division I as selected by the New England Football Writers Association. Lalos is the second Big Green player to earn the honor this season, joining wide receiver Drew Estrada who picked up the honor four weeks ago.
Lalos, a 6-5, 270-pound senior from Akron, Ohio, came up with a number of big plays to help the 13th-ranked Dartmouth Big Green defeat ninth-ranked Princeton, ending the Tigers’ 17-game winning streak, in a battle of undefeated teams at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, 27-10. The win left Dartmouth all alone atop the Ivy League standings, one game ahead of the Tigers and Yale, whose only losses are to the Big Green.
Lalos made his presence known early in the contest when he leapt up at the line and picked off a pass in the first quarter and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown, the game’s first points and his first career touchdown. Later in the first half, he sacked the Princeton quarterback for a 9-yard loss on third down, forcing a punt deep in Tiger territory that set up a drive that led to a field goal shortly before the intermission.
In the fourth quarter, with Princeton desperately needing to put points on the board while facing a 27-10 deficit, he tipped a pass at the line on 3rd-and-2, his second of two pass breakups on the afternoon. Lalos also rushed the Tiger quarterback into throwing the ball away twice during the game with his stout pass rush.
Princeton, which entered the game in the top 10 nationally in the FCS in scoring (38.6 points per game) and total offense (470.1 yards), gained just 246 yards on the day with Lalos spearheading the Dartmouth defensive effort.
The Big Green (8-0, 5-0 Ivy), winners of 10 straight and 20 of their last 21, host Cornell (2-6, 1-4 Ivy) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with an opportunity to clinch a share of their 19th Ivy League title on Senior Day. A victory would also give Buddy Teevens, the Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach his 105th win as Dartmouth’s head coach, breaking the record held by the namesake of his position. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with Tyler Murray and Matt Goldstein on the call, while an audio broadcast featuring Brett Franklin and Wayne Young ’72 will be available free through DartmouthSports.com.
Notes: Lalos is the 14th Big Green player in the past decade to earn the Gold Helmet … the game at Yankee Stadium was part of the 150th anniversary celebration of college football as well as the 250th anniversary of the founding of Dartmouth College … the Big Green are one of two teams remaining in the FCS with a perfect record, the other being top-ranked North Dakota State … the Dartmouth defense leads the FCS in fewest points allowed (10.1 per game) and ranks fifth in yards allowed (292.3).