Harvard 31, Cornell 17
The Crimson offense falters, then pours it on.
Misfiring for two and a half periods, Harvard’s offense put up 24 points in a late-game outburst and defeated Cornell, 31-17, at the Stadium on Saturday.
Against an inexperienced and injury-riddled Big Red squad, Harvard netted 505 yards in total offense and gained 314 yards rushing, slightly bettering its 311-yard total in last week’s 35-10 win at Lafayette. Tailback Gino Gordon ’11 ran for 158 yards and a touchdown, sophomore Treavor Scales gained 93 yards, and fellow sophomore Rich Zajeski picked up 47 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Eight of the Crimson’s nine first-half possessions were short-circuited by penalties, pass interceptions, or incompletions. The only score of the half came late in the first quarter, when a four-play drive was capped by Gordon’s 19-yard dash to the end zone.
Harvard had to nurse a seven-point lead until midway through the third period, when Scales’s 51-yard breakaway sparked the game’s second scoring drive, finished off by freshman David Mothander’s 25-yard field goal.
The Big Red defense forced a fumble on Harvard’s next possession, giving Cornell the ball on the Crimson five-yard line, but stalwart defensive play held the visitors to a field goal as the third quarter ended.
Harvard now got its attack in gear. Quarterback Colton Chapple ’13 directed the longest sustained drive of the game as the final period started, finding wide receiver Levi Richards ’11 with a 21-yard scoring pass. Less than three minutes later, on his first touch of the afternoon, reserve tailback Zajeski reeled off a 43-yard scoring run that helped Harvard to a game-breaking 24-3 lead.
Cornell then mustered its first touchdown of the day, but backup tackle Nnamdi Obukwelu ’13 blocked the extra-point try. Harvard’s offense needed less than a minute to score again, this time on a four-play drive that began with a 65-yard Gordon breakaway and ended with Chapple bootlegging the ball on a two-yard keeper.
Cornell salvaged a consolation touchdown as time expired. Harvard has won nine of its last ten games against the Big Red.
Crimson defenders put heavy pressure on freshman quarterback Jeff Mathews, recording eight sacks, seven pass breakups, seven quarterback hurries, and an interception. End Ben Graeff ’12 had four of the sacks, as well as seven solo tackles. Sophomore linebackers Alexander Norman and Josh Boyd led the defensive unit in total tackles.
Chapple—an all-state quarterback as an Alpharetta, Georgia, high-schooler—was making his second varsity start in place of senior quarterback Andrew Hatch, who suffered a concussion early in Harvard’s 29-14 loss at Brown. Chapple completed 16 of 35 pass attempts for 191 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted twice. Adam Chrissis ’12 led the Crimson receiving corps with five catches.
When (or whether) Hatch will see action again remains uncertain. He is one of six key starters who’ve gone down with early-season injuries. The disabled list includes Chris Lorditch ’11, the team’s speediest receiver; Marco Iannuzzi ’11, an elusive wide receiver and kick-return specialist; linebacker Blaise Deal ’12, and defensive backs D.J. Monroe ’13 and Brian Owusu ’13. All but Iannuzzi are reportedly out for the season. “There’s no whining, there’s no moaning about it, there’s no use even discussing it,” said head coach Tim Murphy at Saturday’s postgame press conference. “[Others] are going to step up, and we’re going to find out what we’re made of.”
Harvard’s Ivy League record now stands at 1-1, while Cornell drops to 0-2 (1-3 overall). The Crimson hosts Lehigh (3-2), its third and last Patriot League rival, at the Stadium next Saturday. The game kicks off at noon.
In other games: Yale (3-1, 2-0 Ivy) made good on a last-second field goal to snatch a 23-20 victory over Dartmouth (2-2, 0-1). Penn (3-1, 1-0) beat Bucknell (0-5), 31-10. Columbia (3-1, 1-0) downed Lafayette (0-5), 42-28. Princeton (1-3, 0-1) was routed by Colgate (3-2), 44-10. Brown (2-2, 1-0) was upset by Holy Cross (3-3), 17-13.
The score by quarters:
Cornell 0 0 3 14 — 17
Harvard 7 0 3 21 — 31
The season so far:
Harvard 34, Holy Cross 6
Brown 29, Harvard 14
Harvard 35, Lafayette 10
Harvard 31, Cornell 17
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