Update: Harvard versus Dartmouth

With a 35-7 victory at Dartmouth last Saturday, the football team now has a six-game winning streak and a 6-1 overall record—the best of any Ivy League team.

With a 35-7 victory at Dartmouth last Saturday, the football team now has a six-game winning streak and a 6-1 overall record — the best of any Ivy League team. But Harvard’s hopes of gaining a second consecutive Ivy title dimmed when Brown bested Penn, 34-27, and remained unbeaten in league play. Unless Yale springs an upset in Providence next weekend, the Bears could be home free: their final matches are against the league’s weakest teams, Dartmouth (0-4, 0-7 overall at this writing) and Columbia (1-3, 1-6).

In the first Ivy game for both teams, Brown banked a 24-22 win over Harvard by stopping a two-point conversion try at the goal-line (see “Bumps in the Road”). That defensive play looks even bigger now than it did at the time.

The Harvard offense had its most productive outing of the season at Dartmouth’s Memorial Field, amassing a total of 466 yards. With seven or eight Big Green defenders dropping into pass coverage, Harvard successfully switched to the ground game, which had been only so-so in previous games. Junior tailback Ben Jenkins rushed for 111 yards, a career high; his alternate, sophomore Gino Gordon, gained 78 on just six carries. Quarterback Chris Pizzotti, who leads the league in passing efficiency, is gaining confidence and mobility as a runner: he scrambled for two rushing touchdowns, and floated an 18-yard pass to tight end Jason Miller for a third. Harvard’s other scores came on Patrick Long’s two field goals, a two-point safety forced by defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, and a 15-yard run by Jenkins.

The Season So Far

Harvard 25, Holy Cross 24
Brown 24, Harvard 22
Harvard 27, Lafayette 13
Harvard 38, Cornell 17
Harvard 27, Lehigh 24
Harvard 24, Princeton 20
Harvard 35, Dartmouth 7

Pizzotti was relieved in the second half by fifth-year senior Liam O’Hagan, who began the 2006 and 2007 seasons as a regular and would probably be a starter on any other Ivy team. Under orders to keep the ball on the ground, O’Hagan picked up 66 yards on his own. The offense closed out a 368-yard rushing day with 32 consecutive running plays, a sequence perhaps unequaled since the legalization of forward passing in 1906.

The Crimson defense held Dartmouth to minus-two yards on 19 rushing attempts — the fewest on record for a Harvard opponent — and pounded quarterback Alex Jenny, who left the game in the third quarter. Freshman Conner Kempe, subbing for Jenny, averted a shutout by throwing a short-yardage touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in the game.

Big Green football has fallen on hard times. This year’s team ranks last in the league in scoring offense, rushing offense, and total offense, and is also last in total defense. Dartmouth won or shared 17 Ivy titles from 1958 to 1996, but hasn’t posted a winning season since 1997.

For early season coverage, see "Bumps in the Road."

Back to the future: Harvard hosts Columbia at the Stadium on Saturday, faces Penn at Franklin Field on November 15, and returns to the Stadium for the Yale game on November 22. Each game starts at noon. Penn and Harvard, both 3-1, are now tied for second place in the Ivy standings. Yale is 2-2, with league wins over Dartmouth and Columbia and losses to Cornell and Penn. Harvard partisans, who don’t normally root for the Bulldog, will be pulling for him this weekend.

~“Cleat”

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