Football 2022: Harvard 37-Penn 14
Dean passes the Quakers silly—and Eli’s coming!
In 1895 the University of Pennsylvania dedicated Franklin Field. (Just the grounds; the edifice came later.) That same year (coincidentally) H.G. Wells began cranking out his science-fiction tales. The forward pass was still 11 years from legalization. But even Wells could not have envisioned the out-of-this-world show put on this past Saturday in the first half by Charlie Dean. In the first 30 minutes against Penn, the Harvard senior quarterback completed 23 out of 27 attempts for 222 yards and three touchdowns, launching the Crimson to a 37-14 win. The victory in the season’s final road contest brought Harvard’s 2022 overall mark to 6-3, and 4-2 in conference play; the Ivy rival Quakers dropped to 7-2, 4-2. Both teams trail Princeton and Yale, who are tied for first place at 5-1. Next Saturday, in a de facto tournament, Yale is at Harvard and Penn is at Princeton. The possibility exists of an unprecedented four-way tie for the title.
This was Harvard’s most impressive all-around victory of the season. Though much credit should go to Harvard’s offensive line and defensive front seven, this was Dean’s day—as sharp an outing as any Crimson quarterback has had. In the first half, he completed 11 in a row, and even his few incompletions were right on the money. On the afternoon Dean was 29-for-38; the 29 completions for a game are tied for sixth most in Crimson history. Dean spread the ball to nine receivers. Ironically, only one went to his top wideout, senior Kym Wimberly, who had missed the previous game, the 21-20 loss to Columbia, with an injury. On the Crimson’s first play from scrimmage, Dean threw to Wimberly, who caught the ball for a five-yard gain, then fell to the turf. He rose haltingly, clutching his arm, and did not return. His status for Yale, against whom he caught the winning pass last year, is uncertain.
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Dean and the Crimson offense shrugged off this absence. On Harvard’s second series Dean mixed five completions with a 14-yard bolt from senior running back Aidan Borguet to bring the ball to the Penn 18. On the next play, Dean floated a toss to the right corner of the end zone, where sophomore wideout Kaedyn Odermann made a diving grab—an all-around beauty of a hookup. Touchdown! Senior Jonah Lipel kicked the conversion. Harvard 7, Penn 0.
The Quakers came right back, mounting a brisk, eight-play 75-yard drive. The capper was a two-yard touchdown blast by Julien Stokes. Graham Gotlieb booted the extra point. Harvard 7, Penn 7, and we had the makings of a shootout.
But from here on in, Dean did most of the firing, with the Crimson scoring 24 unanswered points. On the first Harvard series of the second quarter the Crimson went 64 yards in 11 plays. On third-and-three from the Quaker 46, Dean connected with junior tight end Tyler Neville for a gain of 10 yards. Five plays later, from the Penn 29, came the play of the game. Dean dropped back and flipped the ball on the right to Joe Young. The sparsely used (three catches prior to this game) senior wideout came back to the ball to make the catch, kicked his way out of a tackle, and proceeded to the goal line, where he dove into the end zone. Lipel booted the point after. Harvard 14, Penn 7. At this point Dean had completed 14 of 15 pass attempts for 134 yards.
After the Crimson defense then forced the Quaker offense into a three-and-out, sophomore Scott Woods III made a nifty 14-yard punt return to the Penn 46. From there Harvard drove to the Quaker 25 but had to settle for a field-goal try, a 42-yarder. Given the three attempts blocked the previous week by Columbia, a bit of trepidation surrounded this try. But this time everything worked: snap, hold by sophomore Sebastien Tasko, kick by Lipel. After the ball sailed through the uprights, Lipel was mobbed his teammates, who were thrilled to see the monkey lifted from his back. Harvard 17, Penn 7.
This was a fraught moment for the Quakers. On their next series the Crimson defense forced a quick three-and-out, and Woods made another good punt return, this one for 13 yards to the Harvard 44. (Woods is getting close to breaking one for a touchdown. Maybe next week?) Only 1:23 remained in the half. Four completions brought the ball swiftly to the Penn 14. Dean gave the Quakers a reprieve by throwing an incompletion. But on the next play he whipped the ball between two defenders to Neville in the right corner of the end zone. Lipel kicked. At the half, it was Harvard 24, Penn 7.
At the opening of the second half the onslaught continued. Dean hooked up with Neville for a 26-yard gain. Then, with the Quaker defense trying to guard against the pass, Borguet scampered to the right for 36 yards, then added a seven-yard run. With the ball at the Penn six, Dean faked a handoff, then flipped to senior tight end Haven Montefalco, who ran it in to the end zone. Lipel pounded the extra point through. Harvard 31, Penn 7.
As has happened too often this season, the Crimson began allowing the other team to creep back into the game. The Quakers scored on a five-yard pass from quarterback Adin Sayed to wideout Rory Starkey (eight catches, 117 yards), and Gotlieb converted. Harvard 31, Penn 14.
The Quakers forced a three-and-out. When Tasko’s ensuing punt was tipped and was downed at the Crimson 45, Penn again went on the march and reached the Harvard two.
Next came the game’s turning point, Dean’s exploits notwithstanding. Sayed took the snap and handed off to running back Trey Flowers, who appeared to score. But just before Flowers got to the goal line Crimson junior defensive tackle Thor Griffith reached out a hand and stripped the ball, which came loose and bounded all the way out of the end zone. Touchback—the ball goes over to Harvard. Instead of being down by 10 points and maintaining momentum, Penn was deflated.
More than 20 minutes were left in the game, and the Crimson used them to play ball control. Two lengthy drives resulted in Lipel field goals, of 25 and 23 yards respectively, to account for the final score.
The tale of the tape: The Crimson dominated time of possession, 36:53 to 23:07. Harvard outgained Penn 458 yards to 286. The Quakers, who came in averaging 114.9 yards on the ground, were held to nine yards on 15 carries. Borguet was overshadowed by Dean but still cranked out 117 yards, his seventh triple-digit day of the season. Senior Jack Bill was the leading pass catcher, with six grabs. As with the receiving corps, defensive stalwarts abounded, with senior defensive back James Herring, senior linebacker Jack McGowan, and senior defensive back Kobe Joseph each registering four tackles. Griffith, senior defensive lineman Truman Jones, and senior defensive lineman David Madzivanyika all had a sack of Sayed.
Now…the One-Game Season. Throw out the record books? This year, anyway, not quite. Yale is rolling. The Bulldogs come into the Stadium on a three-game winning streak. On Saturday they knocked mighty Princeton from the ranks of the unbeaten. Their quarterback, Nolan Grooms, ran for 152 yards against the Tigers. He’ll be hard to sack. Yale defensive back Brandon Benn picked off two Tiger passes. What else to worry about? The health of Wimberly, for one. For another: Harvard has been vulnerable to the deep pass. The medium pass, too. Moreover, the Crimson have developed a distressing habit of having kicks and punts blocked or tipped.
Too bad Harvard can’t bottle the day Dean had on Saturday in Philadelphia. Activate H.G. Wells!
TIDBITS The victory over Penn guarantees a winning season for the Crimson. Following 2021’s 8-2 mark, it’s the first time Harvard has had back-to-back winning seasons since 2015 (9-1) and ’16 (7-3)….Harvard coach Tim Murphy now has 133 Ivy League wins, two fewer than the triumphs by the all-time leader, legendary Yale coach Carmen Cozza, and one ahead of Al Bagnoli (Penn and Columbia, and like Murphy, still active)….With a game to go, senior Aidan Borguet has 1,120 rushing yards, sixth on the Crimson single-season all-time list. The record is held by Clifton Dawson ’07 (1,302 yards in 2004).
Yale 24-Princeton 20
Columbia 31-Brown 24 (OT)
Cornell 17-Dartmouth 13
Coming up: Next Saturday at Harvard Stadium, The 138th playing of The Game! (The one between Harvard and Yale, if you had to ask.) Kickoff: Noon ET. The contest will be telecast on ESPNU, and broadcast on WRCA 1330 AM, 106.1 FM, 92.9 FM-HD2, and WHRB-FM 95.3. The Elis are 7-2 overall and 5-1 in Ivy play. In a series that began in 1875, Yale leads 68-61-8. Last year, in a thriller at New Haven, the Crimson prevailed 34-31. This is the first meeting between ancient rivals at the Stadium in six years; in 2018 they played at Fenway Park and the ’20 edition was canceled because of the pandemic.
The score by quarters