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Football 2021: Harvard 30, Lafayette 3

10.17.21

Running back Aidan Borguet runs up field with ball in hand

First aid: Helped by the block of wideout Kym Wimberly (1) on Lafayette defensive back Shaikyi Hannah, Harvard running back Aidan Borguet churns goalward. Borguet piled up 169 yards and scored twice.

Photograph by Mairead B. Baker/The Harvard Crimson


First aid: Helped by the block of wideout Kym Wimberly (1) on Lafayette defensive back Shaikyi Hannah, Harvard running back Aidan Borguet churns goalward. Borguet piled up 169 yards and scored twice.

Photograph by Mairead B. Baker/The Harvard Crimson

The Harvard offensive line battles with the Lafayette defensive line.

Line drive: Offensive offensive linemen Spencer Rolland (72), Hunt Sparks (75) and Scott Elliott (70) provide a Crimson shield for quarterback Charlie Dean (11).

Photograph by Angela Dela Cruz/The Harvard Crimson


Line drive: Offensive offensive linemen Spencer Rolland (72), Hunt Sparks (75) and Scott Elliott (70) provide a Crimson shield for quarterback Charlie Dean (11).

Photograph by Angela Dela Cruz/The Harvard Crimson

Two Harvard defenders pursue a Lafayette wide receiver.
Scoreboard watching: Harvard defensive backs Victor Tademy (15) and James Herring zero in on Lafayette's Julius Young.
Photograph by Angela Dela Cruz/The Harvard Crimson

Scoreboard watching: Harvard defensive backs Victor Tademy (15) and James Herring zero in on Lafayette's Julius Young.
Photograph by Angela Dela Cruz/The Harvard Crimson

On Saturday at the Stadium, in a stress-free tune-up for the heavyweight tussles to come, the Harvard football team stayed perfect in 2021 with a 30-3 victory over Patriot League rival Lafayette. Ranked no. 19 in the Football Championship Subdivision, the Crimson now stand at 5-0 overall (2-0 in Ivy play), while the Leopards dropped to 2-5. The triumph in 2021’s last non-league game allowed Harvard to keep pace with Princeton and Dartmouth, who also won to remain unbeaten. The logjam will be broken within a week: The Tigers, ranked 20th in the FCS, will host the Crimson next week, with the Big Green coming to the Stadium the following Saturday.

The Ivy League has three teams at 5-0 for the first time since 1968, when Harvard, Yale, and Penn all won their first five. We know how that season ended. (If you don’t, rent the deathless documentary film “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”) This year, however, tie games are off the table. There will be victors…and there might be blood.

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Lafayette allowed Harvard to break a sweat and emerge unscathed. “Our defensive players and coaches really did an outstanding job,” Tim Murphy, Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, said after the game. “Offensively we were opportunistic but we got out of sync a little in the second half. The special teams overall played very well.”

 

With the meat of the schedule looming, Murphy against Lafayette elected to hold out two of his offensive stalwarts, junior running back Aaron Shampklin and freshman wide receiver Kaedyn Odermann. Though Shampklin has played so well that he is in the discussion for Ivy Player of the Year, his replacement as lead back, sophomore Aidan Borguet, proved to be not much of a drop-off, gaining 169 yards (a 7.7-yard average) with two touchdowns. On the game’s first play alone he skittered for 44 yards. Three plays later he slashed for 17 yards to the Leopards’ two-yard line; on the next play he was tackled but with a reach placed the ball on the goal line. Junior Jonah Lipel kicked the extra point. Less than two minutes into the game, it was Harvard 7, Lafayette 0.

This series also saw the heartening return of junior wide receiver Tyler Adams, last seen running a jet sweep for a touchdown in the 2018 Yale game. The fleet wideout had taken the 2019 season off, and because of injury, his status this year was uncertain. But there he was, snagging an eight-yard toss from sophomore quarterback Charlie Dean. Later on Adams and Dean connected for a 12-yard gain. Adams could be a crucial weapon in the upcoming Ivy battles.

At the end of the quarter the Crimson added to its lead. On a 10-play drive, the highlight was a 23-yard toss from Dean to junior tight end Adam Shepherd. The series bogged down at the Leopards’ 21, so Lipel booted a 38-yard field goal. Harvard 10, Lafayette 0.

The Leopards hung in there. Dean was picked off at the Lafayette 35 by defensive back Preston Forney, who outwrestled Crimson sophomore tight end Haven Montefalco for the ball. Lafayette quarterback Ah-Shaun Davis drove his team to the Harvard 16, where the Crimson stiffened. Micah Pettit kicked a 33-yard field goal. Harvard 10, Lafayette 3.

Thus concluded the Leopard highlights. The Crimson responded with a methodical 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated when, from the two, Dean fumbled the snap. But Borguet—Aidan on the spot!—picked up the ball and ran around left end for a touchdown. Lipel booted the point. Harvard 17, Lafayette 3.

On the next series Davis had the Leopards on the move. But on third and nine from the Harvard 36, he threw a pass that was deflected by Crimson junior linebacker Solomon Egbe. Sophomore defensive back Alex Washington clutched it. Harvard ball! On the second play, from the 28, Borguet blasted through a huge hole on the right, cut back, took advantage of a block by Adams, and rambled for 47 yards to the Lafayette 25. Again the drive bogged down, so Lipel drilled a 27-yard field goal. Harvard 20, Lafayette 3. The half was a tale of two rushing attacks: Borguet alone had 152 yards, while the Leopards were at minus-four on the ground.

 

On the second-half kickoff, Lafayette’s Carl Davis fumbled and Harvard junior defensive back David Spitz recovered at the Leopards’ 29. The Crimson could not move the ball, which gave Lipel an opportunity to try a medium-range field goal. He took advantage, making good on a 42-yarder. (Such success can be a major confidence-booster for the season’s later games.) Harvard 23, Lafayette 3.

On the next series Washington got his second pick, reading a Davis pass, cutting inside the intended receiver, and bobbling the ball before clasping it at the Lafayette 43. The Crimson was in the end zone in five plays, the big one a 23-yard pass to from Dean to Borguet, who ran a wheel route out of the backfield to the left. The score was made by yet another Harvard runner, sophomore Sone Ntoh, who barreled in from the nine. Lipel again kicked. Harvard 30, Lafayette 3, which is how it ended.

For the game, Lafayette had minus-24 rushing yards. Truly, the Crimson defensive linemen and linebackers, led by senior linebacker and captain Jordan Hill (a team-high seven tackles), are a magnificent seven. (A tip of the hat, though, to Lafayette linebacker Marco Olivas, who had an astonishing 15 tackles.) The Crimson amassed seven sacks, with junior defensive lineman Jacob Sykes registering 2.5 and sophomore linebacker Nate Leskovec 1.5. On the other side of the ball, the Harvard offensive line continually carved holes for Borguet and Ntoh (56 yards on 14 carries). The Crimson piled up 229 yards on the ground. This meant that Dean could throw sparingly and prudently, and he did just that, completing 15 of 27 passes for a relatively paltry 147 yards.

So…from here on in, it’s all Ivy, all the time. Murphy always refers to the second half as “the meat of the schedule.” The next two weeks, in particular, will be fascinating for dedicated football watchers. Harvard is one of the sport’s most unusual teams in that most of its big plays on offense come on rushes (or at least have so far). Surely Princeton coach Bob Surace and Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens are devising ways to bottle up Shampklin and Borguet. That will place the onus on quarterback Charlie Dean and his receivers to prove their mettle. It will be Dean’s big-game baptism of fire. Maybe this is the time that Harvard’s tight ends will emerge as weapons.

On defense, the Crimson, which often has been bend-but-not break, will be challenged as it has not been in 2021. The Tigers and the Big Green are scoring machines. On Saturday against Brown, Princeton quarterback Cole Smith completed 25 of 27 passes for 486 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. His Dartmouth counterpart, Derek Kyler, against New Hampshire connected on 20 of 25 for 326 yards and two touchdowns, also without a pick. Can the vaunted Harvard front seven harry these gentlemen enough to slow them down? We shall see.

 

TIDBITS: Harvard is now 18-3 all-time against Lafayette, and coach Tim Murphy is 15-2 against the Leopards….This is the first 5-0 start for the Crimson since 2015. That year’s team finished 9-1….Jon Sot, Harvard’s All-Ivy punter, continued his stellar booting, averaging 42.0 yards on his three efforts, with his longest being 52 yards. Sot placed two kicks inside the Lafayette 20.

 

Weekly Roundup

Princeton 56, Brown 42

Dartmouth 38, New Hampshire 21

Connecticut 21, Yale 15

Columbia 23, Penn 14

Cornell 34, Colgate 20 

 

Coming up: On Saturday Harvard resumes Ivy play as it travels to Princeton. Kickoff: 1 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and broadcast on WRCA 1330 AM, 106.1 FM, 92.9 FM-HD2, and WHRB 95.3 FM. As noted, the Tigers are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. In a series that began in 1877, Harvard trails 48-57-7, and has lost the last three, including a 30-24 defeat at Princeton in 2019.

 

The score by quarters

Lafayette0300  3
Harvard1010100  30

 

Attendance: 5,641

 

THE SEASON SO FAR: follow Dick Friedman’s dispatches.

Week one: Harvard 44, Georgetown 9

Week two: Harvard 49, Brown 17

Week three: Harvard 38, Holy Cross 13

Week four: Harvard 24, Cornell 10

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