Harvard 45, Princeton 28
Running backs Gordon and Scales rush for 338 yards.
They razzled. They dazzled. It was football à la Harlem Globetrotters.
Princeton pulled more trick plays on Saturday than most teams would run in a season. Some worked brilliantly: the Tigers scored touchdowns in each quarter and gained 365 yards in total offense. But Harvard countered with its best offensive showing of the season, keeping its Ivy League title hopes alive with a 45-28 victory at Princeton Stadium.
With its two top quarterbacks off the injury list and back in action, the Crimson racked up 583 yards of total offense, 394 of them on the ground. Senior tailback Gino Gordon gained 204 yards on 20 carries, a career high. Treavor Scales ’13, Gordon’s alternate, had 134 yards on 16 carries. Gordon, Scales, and backup Rich Zajeski each scored a rushing touchdown.
Two Harvard backs hadn’t had rushed for 100 yards or more in the same game since Gordon and Scales did it against Dartmouth a year ago.
The Tigers treated the visitors to some orange-and-black magic on the game’s first drive. Reserve quarterback Andrew Dixon rolled right and tossed a backwards pass to tight end Harry Flaherty, who then threw a 22-yard scoring pass to wide-open receiver Andrew Kerr. After just two minutes of play, Princeton was up 7-0.
Princeton drove deep into Harvard territory on its next series, but an interception by cornerback Dan Minamide ’12 gave Harvard the ball on its own 5-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Gordon took off on a 52-yard run down the sideline. Three plays later he found an opening on the far side of the field and ran 26 yards for Harvard’s first touchdown of the day.
Early in the second quarter Scales got loose for a 46-yard score that gave the Crimson a short-lived lead. But on Princeton’s next drive the Tigers tied the score on a short touchdown pass from Dixon to Kerr.
Senior Andrew Hatch had started the game at quarterback. He had excelled in the opening-game victory over Holy Cross, but had suffered a concussion in the Brown game and was now on the field for the first time in four games. Hatch was sometimes out of rhythm with his receivers, but his four completions on Harvard’s next series set up a nine-yard touchdown by Gordon’s and Scales’s hard-running understudy, Zajeski.
The Crimson now held a 21-14 lead that looked none too secure. Gordon had a 31-yard breakaway on the team’s final series of the half, but Hatch faltered on three passing attempts and a drive-ending field-goal try fell short. In the first two periods, Gordon was credited with 132 yards rushing on just nine carries.
Junior Collier Winters relieved Hatch as the second half opened. Last year’s starting quarterback, he’d been sidelined by hip and groin injuries sustained in preseason practice. Winters now appeared to be fully recovered, driving the team downfield to score on his first pass of the season. It was a short one to tight end Kyle Juszczyk ’13, who followed his blockers to the end zone and dove in for a 26-yard score.
Princeton’s trickery had continued with an assortment of fakes, keeper plays, and reverse options. Midway through the third period, just inside the Harvard 30-yard line, backup quarterback Connor Kelley handed off to running back Jordan Culbreath on what looked like a sweep. But Culbreath stopped in his tracks and threw a deep pass to ace receiver Trey Peacock for a touchdown, cutting the Crimson lead to 28-21.
Harvard answered by driving the length of the field and widening its lead on a short field goal by freshman kicker David Mothander. As the final period started, a special-teams error cost the Tigers any chance they might have had of a comeback. A high snap sailed over the head of punter Otavio Fleury, who recovered the ball in the end zone and attempted to boot it out. Defensive end Grant Sickle ’13 blocked the kick and senior receiver Mike Cook fell on the ball for another Harvard touchdown. Mothander’s point-after gave the Crimson a 38-21 lead.
Princeton scored once more when receiver Peacock took a direct snap and went in for a one-yard touchdown. But Harvard locked up the game when Winters hit Juszczyk with an eight-yard pass with under two minutes to play.
Juszczyk, an increasingly valuable member of the Crimson offense, finished with six pass receptions for 81 yards. Winters completed eight of 12 pass attempts for 91 yards, two touchdowns—both to Juszczyk—and one interception. Hatch had nine completions in 21 tries for 98 yards. He was intercepted twice.
Senior safety and captain Collin Zych led the defense with 15 tackles, 10 of them solo. Linebacker Alexander Norman ’13 had two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Harvard has won in 13 of its last 15 meetings with Princeton. The Tigers are now 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Ivy League. Their only victory was an overtime win against Lafayette.
In other Ivy contests, Yale (4-2, 2-1) succumbed to Penn (5-1, 3-0), 27-20. Brown (4-2, 3-0) defeated Cornell (1-5, 0-3), 27-14. Dartmouth (4-2, 1-2) beat Columbia (3-3, 1-2), 24-21.
Now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in league play, Harvard meets Dartmouth at Hanover next Saturday, with a 1:30 kickoff time. Pristine league records will be on the line when Penn and Brown meet in Philadelphia. Yale hosts Columbia; Princeton plays Cornell at Ithaca.
The score by quarters:
Harvard 7 14 10 14 — 45
Princeton 7 7 7 7 — 28
The season so far:
Harvard 34, Holy Cross 6
Brown 29, Harvard 14
Harvard 35, Lafayette 10
Harvard 31, Cornell 17
Lehigh 21, Harvard 19
Harvard 45, Princeton 28