Football 2022: Princeton 37-Harvard 10
This time, it was fair and square. Unlike last year, when Princeton was awarded a contested, five-overtime 18-16 victory over Harvard, last Friday night nearly 11,000 spectators at the Stadium as well as an ESPNU audience saw the Tigers pummel the Crimson 37-10. The defeat drops Harvard to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Ivy League play; Princeton rolls along at 6-0, 3-0. This was the Tigers’ fifth straight victory over the Crimson.
Harvard had not received this bad a beatdown at home since they had been blasted out of Soldiers Field 52-17 by Princeton in 2017 in another Friday night game. (Suggestion: Stop scheduling the Tigers at home on Friday evening.) On this dark and doleful night—ironically, Fan Appreciation Night—the Crimson did not measure up. The Tigers received splendid performances from quarterback Blake Stenstrom as well as from receivers Andrei Iosivas and Dylan Classi; meanwhile, their muscular defense roamed the field and rarely gave the Harvard offense, particularly star senior running back Aidan Borguet, a chance to breathe.
Tim Murphy, the Stephenson Family coach for Harvard football, put it more diplomatically than many Crimson followers might. “Our kids played hard, but we didn't sustain enough drives offensively and defensively,” he said. “I give Princeton credit, they made a ton of really big plays today.”
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They sure did. The first—the first two, really—came on the game’s initial series. Facing a fourth-and-one from their own 34, the Tigers and coach Bob Surace chose to go for it. That confidence was justified when bruising freshman running back Ryan Butler barreled for a three-yard gain. Two plays later, from the 39, came some trickeration—a flea flicker. Stenstrom handed to Butler, who quickly pitched back to Stenstrom—who threw to Iosivas, who was behind the Harvard defense, uncovered. Iosivas romped into the end zone. (This was the kind of bold stroke we often used to see from—dare we say it?—Harvard.) Jeff Sexton kicked the extra point. Princeton 7, Harvard 0.
The Crimson came back, thanks partly to a bizarre punt by Princeton’s Will Powers that took a hop backwards and ended up at the Tiger 38—a net of three yards. From there, Harvard senior quarterback Charlie Dean mixed runs by Borguet and two pass completions to senior wideout Kym Wimberly to bring the ball to the Princeton seven. But the Crimson had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by senior Jonah Lipel. Princeton 7, Harvard 3.
From the latter part of the first quarter into the early portion of the second, the Tigers went on a 14-play drive—and came away with no points after a touchdown was negated because of offensive pass interference. But the thrust served two purposes: first, to wear down the Crimson defense; second, to keep the Crimson offense off the field (and thus keep Borguet from breaking one of his trademark explosive runs). Later in the period Princeton broke through after recovering a Wimberly fumble at the Tiger 46. In only six plays Princeton was in the end zone, with Stenstrom throwing to Butler for the score. Sexton kicked. Princeton 14, Harvard 3.
The Crimson kept itself in the game with its best drive of the evening. Dean used his tight ends, completing a 22-yard pass to junior Tyler Neville and a 16-yarder to junior Haven Montefalco. Borguet barreled nine yards for a first down at the Tiger 10. From there, Dean took the snap and whipped a bullet over the middle to Neville for a touchdown. Lipel booted the conversion. Princeton 14, Harvard 10. The half ended.
Really, the Crimson was lucky to be in it. The Tigers led in total yards, 247 to 166; in time of possession, it was Princeton 20:04, Harvard 9:56.
The second half, though, was a sorry Crimson cavalcade of penalties, dropped snaps, and interceptions. The biggest play of the game may have come on the Tigers’ first series. On third and 12 from the Princeton 26, Stenstrom fired deep down the left side to Iosivas, who was covered tightly by Crimson sophomore defensive back Gavin Shipman. Twisting his body in the air, Iosivas made an NFL-quality catch, hauling in the ball at the Harvard 28. Two plays later, Stenstrom found Classi over the middle for a touchdown. Sexton kicked the point. Princeton 21. Harvard 10.
Thereupon ensued a Crimson calamity of errors. The next Harvard drive entailed 10 plays that availed 25 yards. It did feature a nice 13-yard grab by Neville. But it also was marred by two false-start penalties. The coup de grace came when sophomore Sebastien Tasko dropped back to punt—and promptly dropped the snap from center. The Tigers took over at the Crimson 47. Eleven plays later they scored when Butler barged in from the one. (On the play preceding the touchdown, Harvard was penalized for having 12 men on the field.) Sexton punctuated. Princeton 28, Harvard 10.
On the following Crimson drive, Dean and Neville tried to rally the troops, hooking up for a 20-yard gain. But now the Princeton rushers, unconcerned about the run, were pouring in on the Harvard quarterback. On fourth and four from the Tiger 49, Dean tossed to Montefalco—who dropped it. The Tigers took over and, spurred by a terrific catch by Classi for a 36-yard gain, got into position for a 24-yard Sexton field goal. Princeton 31, Harvard 10.
At this point, Murphy replaced Dean (who finished 20-for-32 passing for 186 yards, but with the longest completion only 22 yards) with senior Luke Emge. On this night the hero of last year’s Yale game found the going rough, tossing two interceptions. In between the picks, the Tigers scored again. On a fourth-and-four, Iosivas made another circus catch amid double coverage at the Crimson four. On the next play, Stenstrom ran it in for a touchdown. This time, the point after was missed. Thus your final score: Princeton 37, Harvard 10.
Princeton dominated in total offense, 469 yards to 303; in time of possession, 36:55 to 23:05; and, with Butler running for 81 yards and a nimble Stenstrom for 74, in rushing yards, 191 to 112. (Harvard had entered the game surrendering an average of 78.0 yards on the ground.)
The Crimson had its heroes. Wimberly caught 11 passes. Neville, having a breakout game, snared five, including one for a touchdown. On defense, junior linebacker Matt Hudson made a game-high 10 tackles. Senior defensive lineman and captain Truman Jones had seven stops, and junior defensive lineman Thor Griffith had five, including two for loss.
What, you may ask, of Borguet? He gained a respectable 96 yards on 15 carries, but the circumstances (Harvard being behind and thus forced to throw) and the Princeton defense conspired to hold him down. In the race for the Ivy offensive player of the year, he almost certainly lost ground to Iosivas (nine catches for 176 yards).
And so, on to Hanover (as Bill Belichick might say). Besides being galling, this loss casts some doubt as to whether the Crimson is first-class. On the other hand, perhaps Princeton is in a class by itself.
TIDBITS Before the game Harvard honored the late Chester M. Pierce ’48, M.D. ’52, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Crimson’s game at Virginia in which Pierce, a lineman, became the first black athlete to play against a then all-white school south of the Mason-Dixon Line….At the end of the first quarter Harvard also recognized the 2007 Ivy football champions, 7-0 in league play….The series against Princeton now stands at Harvard 48 wins, Princeton 59 wins, and seven ties….Friday night’s loss broke a five-game Ivy winning streak for the Crimson going back to last season….Senior Jonah Lipel’s first-quarter field goal extended the Crimson’s streak of not having been shut out to 234 games, an Ivy record….The 138th playing of the Harvard-Yale game at the Stadium on November 19 is officially a sellout.
Penn 20, Yale 13
Cornell 24, Brown 21
Dartmouth 27, Columbia 24
Coming up: Next Saturday the Crimson travels to Memorial Field in Hanover, New Hampshire, to meet Ivy League rival Dartmouth. Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and NESN+, and broadcast on WRCA 1330 AM, 106.1 FM, 92.9 FM-HD2 and WHRB-FM 95.3 The Big Green is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in Ivy play. In a series that began in 1882 Harvard leads 71-48-5 but has lost the last three, including a 20-17 defeat last season in Cambridge.
The score by quarters