Football 2022: Harvard 35-Brown 28

Strong offense, vulnerable rushing defense, and painful penalties tortured Crimson fans until the last nine seconds.

Harvard’s Kym Wimberly scores his second touchdown.
Aidan Borguet scores Harvard’s final touchdown on 67-yard run.
Senior tight end Tyler Neville’s four-yard catch on the opening drive helped set up the Crimson for its first touchdown.
Harvard quarterback Charlie Dean enjoying a day with no sacks and 20 or 29 passing

Harvard football—it’s torture. After scraping by in an overtime thriller last week against unheralded Merrimack, the Crimson traveled to Providence on Saturday and on a sunny, breezy afternoon built a 28-point lead over Brown in the Ivy League opener for both teams. But instead of permitting its followers to luxuriate in a laugher, Harvard needed all of that cushion to stave off the Bears 35-28. The outcome was not decided until nine seconds remained, when Brown threw an incomplete pass on its final offensive play.

The victory moved the Crimson’s record to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in league play; the Bears dropped to 1-1, 0-1. Harvard exhibited several strengths but also a nagging propensity to shoot itself in the foot with untimely penalties. 

“We beat a good Ivy team on the road,” Tim Murphy, Stephenson Family head coach for football told his team after the game, before they sang (as is customary after a victory) “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard.” “That’s all we’re going to talk about.” In Ivy openers, Murphy is now 23-5.


Unlike in the game against Merrimack, the Crimson offense came out sharp. On its opening drive, which started at the Harvard 33 and consumed eight plays, senior quarterback Charlie Dean completed four of five passes. The final toss was a 26-yarder to senior wideout Kym Wimberly, who stiff-armed a defender and ran into the end zone. Senior Jonah Lipel booted the extra point. With just over five minutes gone, it was Harvard 7, Brown 0.

There was no further scoring in the first period. On the first play of the second, Brown had the ball, first and 10 at the Harvard 46. Taking the snap in the shotgun formation, quarterback Jake Willcox was sacked by senior defensive lineman Truman Jones. But here, in a theme that would regrettably repeat itself, Jones was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. This moved the Bears into field-goal range, but Chris Maron’s 45-yard try was wide left. The Crimson had dodged a bullet—this time.

Harvard took over. On this drive, Dean cannily mixed the rushes of his star running back, senior Aidan Borguet, with passes to three receivers: Wimberly, junior tight end Tyler Neville, and sophomore wideout Ledger Hatch. This last was crucial, as it came on fourth down and moved the chains to the Brown 28. Two plays later, Dean found Wimberly in the middle of the field and the sinewy senior chugged his way into the end zone. Lipel again kicked the point. Harvard 14, Brown 0.

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After the Crimson defense forced a three-and-out, Dean trotted back in at the Crimson 32 with a mostly new supporting cast. On this drive, senior Sone Ntoh replaced Borguet and he banged out 11 yards on three carries. Dean legged out a 10-yard gain to pick up a first down, and connected with junior H-back Tim Dowd for another one. Proving that crippling penalties go both ways, Brown’s Malcolm Brunson was called for roughing Dean, which brought the ball to the Bears’ 23. Two plays later, from the 17, Dean lobbed one up near the goal line to 6’4” senior tight end Haven Montefalco, who simply outjumped the shorter Brown defender in the end zone. Lipel booted, Harvard 21, Brown 0. The half ended. The Crimson had outgained the Bears 232 yards to 112 as the Harvard defense held down the highly touted offense of Brown coach James Perry.

As the second half began, the rout proceeded. On the first play of the third quarter, from the Harvard 19, Dean handed to Borguet, who headed up the middle, then turned and flipped back to Dean. The old flea flicker! Dean looked downfield and spied Hatch streaking down the right side—behind the defenders. Dean threw; Hatch caught the ball in stride and ran untouched to the end zone. Lipel kicked. Harvard 28, Brown 0.

The Bears could have folded, but coach Perry trusted his quick-striking attack to get them back in the game. Sure enough, Brown went 75 yards in 10 plays, with the finale being a 49-yard pass-and-run from Willcox to rugged running back Stockton Owen  Jr. for a touchdown. Maron kicked the point. Harvard 28, Brown 7.

The Bears had life…flickeringly. On the third play after the kickoff, Borguet took a handoff from Dean and encountered a roadblock at the line of scrimmage. He bounced off a defender, then resumed running—and kept right on going, rumbling 67 yards to the end zone. Lipel booted. Harvard 35, Brown 7. The first 3:49 of the second half had seen three touchdowns, two by the Crimson—not a salubrious trend for the Bears.

But those were the final Crimson points. At the end of the period, Brown began working its way back into the game. From the Harvard 12, facing a fourth-and-eight, Willcox threw an incompletion. But Crimson junior defensive tackle Tyler Huenemann was flagged for roughing the passer. Brown kept the ball and capitalized when running back Allen Smith scored on a seven-yard touchdown bolt. Maron kicked. Harvard 35, Brown 14.

On the kickoff, Crimson senior wideout Jack Bill made a nifty return to midfield. But (here’s that refrain) freshman defensive back AJ Lopez was flagged for holding. The ball was moved back to the Harvard 15. The Crimson went three-and-out. After a 50-yard punt by sophomore Sebastien Tasko, the Bears took over on their 31. The ensuing drive saw yet another unnecessary roughness call on Harvard, this one on senior linebacker Kobe Joseph. Two plays later Willcox threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to wideout Wes Rockett. Maron converted. Harvard 35, Brown 21. A little under 10 minutes remained.

On the kickoff Bill was smothered at the Crimson 11. Harvard appeared to get a first down when Dean connected with Ntoh—but Wimberly was called for offensive pass interference, The Bears got the ball back on their 45. Seven plays later they were in the end zone, courtesy of a 25-yard pass from Willcox to Allan Houston III (yes, son of the former NBA standout). Maron kicked the PAT. Harvard 35, Brown 28, with 5:36 left.

One penalty atrocity remained. Using Borguet, the Crimson tried to keep the ball on the ground and run out the clock. It appeared Harvard had done so when, on third and six from the Bears 45, Borguet barged up the middle for eight yards. But wait—another flag, this one on senior center Scott Elliott for holding. Two plays later, the Crimson was forced to punt.

Taking over at its 12 with 1:34 left, the Bears almost forged a tie, or perhaps even a victory. Aided by a sensational catch by Rockett, they moved all the way to the Harvard 41. On fourth and seven from the 38, and with 15 seconds left, Willcox threw to the end zone—incomplete. This time, no Crimson flags. Game over.  


There was much to like, especially offensively. Dean was a splendid 20 for 29 passing for 282 yards, four touchdowns—and no interceptions. “Charlie can make all the throws,” said Murphy admiringly. He also is one of the best ball-fakers in Harvard annals. Kudos to the offensive line—Dean was not sacked. That allowed him to spread the ball to nine receivers. Wimberly was magnificent, with a game-high eight receptions, for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Borguet was routinely outstanding, gaining 131 yards on 16 carries, including that 67-yard touchdown bolt. 

Among the negatives: once it got in gear, Brown moved the ball impressively, especially on the ground, where it gained 109 yards against the vaunted Crimson rushing defense. Then there were those Harvard penalties—eight for 86 yards, many of them killers. Brown and coach Perry must be ruing that they dug themselves such a deep hole.

As Murphy said, it’s a win on the road over an Ivy team. But it’s still torture.


TIDBITS. Harvard now leads the overall series 89-30-2….With its opening-drive touchdown, the Crimson has scored in 230 consecutive games, an Ivy record….Far-flung: The state-by-state breakdown of the 2022 Harvard roster shows Georgia leading with 11 players, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (10 each), Texas (nine), California (seven) and Florida (six).


Weekly Roundup

Columbia 42, Georgetown 6

Penn 12, Lafayette 0

Yale 38, Cornell 14

Sacred Heart 38, Dartmouth 31 (OT)

Princeton 29, Lehigh 17


Coming up:  Next Saturday the Crimson returns to Harvard Stadium to face ancient and honorable non-league foe Holy Cross. Kickoff: 1 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ (subscription required) and broadcast on WRCA 1330 AM, 106.1 FM, 92.9 FM-HD2. The Crusaders are 4-0 (1-0 in the Patriot League) and ranked 13th in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll. “This might be the best team we face all year,” said Harvard coach Tim Murphy. In a series that began in 1904, Harvard leads 45-25-2 and has won the last three, including 38-13 last year in Worcester. The game is billed as Youth Day/Title IX celebration. Tickets for children 12 and under will be $5, and young fans are invited to stay after the game for an autograph session with the team.


The score by quarters

Harvard 7 14 14 0     35
Brown 0 0 7 21     28


Attendance: 9,395

Read more articles by: Dick Friedman

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