Football 2022: Yale 19-Harvard 14

A tough finish to a quirky season

Yale mascot Handsome Dan XIX and a Harvard University Police dog at The Game

(Click on arrow at right to see additional images)(1/5) DOG DAY AFTERNOON Yale's Handsome Dan XIX and a Harvard University Police dog wondered what the ruckus was all about. Photographs by Julian Giordano/The Harvard Crimson

Yale quarterback Nolan Grooms being pursued; he ran for 63 yards and threw for 144.

(2/5) PASS OR RUN? Tracked by Harvard's Truman Jones, Yale's Nolan Grooms considers his options. The Bulldog quarterback ran for 63 yards and threw for 144.Photographs by Julian Giordano/The Harvard Crimson

Harvard’s Truman Jones making one of 10 tackles, tying a game high

(3/5) DOUBLE TEAM Harvard's Truman Jones (90) and Khalil Dawsey corral Yale running back Joshua Pitsenberger. Jones, Harvard's captain, had ten tackles, tying Crimson senior defensive back James Herring for game high.Photographs by Julian Giordano/The Harvard Crimson

Scot Woods II makes Harvard’s first touchdown on a 64-yard catch and run, tying the game.
(4/5) GREAT SCOTT!  Heading for the end zone, Scott Woods II is on his way to Harvard's first touchdown. The sophomore wideout's 64-yard catch and run tied the game in the second period.
Photographs by Julian Giordano/The Harvard Crimson
Yale tight end Jackson Hawes catches the game-winning five-yard touchdown pass.
(5/5) GAME WINNER Yale tight end Jackson Hawes clutches a five-yard scoring pass. Coming early in the fourth quarter, the touchdown gave the Elis a 19-14 lead that held up the rest of the way.
Photographs by Julian Giordano/The Harvard Crimson

Early in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Harvard’s Jonah Lipel booted the extra point following quarterback Charlie Dean’s touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Neville. For the first time—and unaccountably—the Crimson led, 14-13, over Yale in the 138th playing of The Game. Now it was up to the Harvard defense to hold on. Could it keep the Bulldogs and quarterback Nolan Grooms from getting into scoring territory? 

It could not. In a microcosm of the game at large, Grooms led Yale on a 75-yard march that culminated in a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jackson Hawes. When the Crimson failed to answer and Penn upset Princeton, the Bulldogs had a 19-14 victory and the school’s seventeenth Ivy League title (and third in five years), equaling Harvard’s number and trailing Dartmouth (20) and Penn (18). 

The loss dropped Harvard to 4-3 and fourth place in Ivy League play (see Final Standings, below), and 6-4 overall; Yale finished at 6-1, 8-2. The Crimson had a quirky season in which it ran the table on the road (5-0) and struggled at home (1-4, with the only win, over Merrimack, coming in overtime). True, three of the toughest games—Holy CrossPrinceton, and Yale—were played at the Stadium. (A full wrap-up of the 2022 season will appear in the January-February issue of Harvard Magazine.)

“I’m really proud of our kids,’ said Tim Murphy, the Stephenson Family coach for Harvard football. “As I told them in the locker room, in any endeavor–in anything you do in life–if you give it absolutely everything you have, you can have no regrets. It probably doesn’t make you any less miserable. It was a really hard-fought game. Both defenses played at a very high level. To state the obvious, they just made a play or two more than we did.”

Actually, Yale made, or at least ran, a lot more plays than Harvard did—79, to the Crimson’s 57. With Grooms and his backfield cohorts, running back Joshua Pitsenberger and Tre Peterson, pounding away, the Bulldogs won the possession battle by a mind-numbing 40:27 to 19:33. Only their failure to cash in on a couple of promising drives allowed Harvard to hang around. Meanwhile, the Crimson offense was without its two best weapons. Senior wide receiver Kym Wimberly was sidelined by an arm injury. And Yale coach Tony Reno and his staff effectively took Crimson star runner Aidan Borguet out of the game, swarming him and collapsing his running lanes, forestalling the trademark bursts leading to long gainers. Borguet was held to a hard-earned 62 net yards on 18 rushes, with a long gain of 16 yards. That put extra pressure on Dean, whom the Yale defensive line harassed unmercifully. The senior quarterback finished with 15 completions in 33 attempts for 229 yards—but was picked off four times.

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On this sunny, 42-degree day, many in the late-arriving (per custom) crowd were not in their seats when hostilities began—on the coin toss. (This was the first Game at the Stadium since 2016, with 2018’s having been played at Fenway Park, while the ’20 edition was canceled because of COVID-19.) A bit of testiness between the captains led to both squads rushing out to midfield, ready to rumble. For a while we didn’t know if what would follow would be a football game or the millionth performance of Leonard Bernstein ’39, L.L.D. ’67’s West Side Story. Thankfully, peace prevailed and it was The Game, not the “Jet Song,” that commenced. 

Harvard got the initial break. On the Elis’ first offensive play Grooms was hit by Crimson senior defensive end Truman Jones and fumbled. (The Crimson captain would go on to play a magnificent game, amassing a game-high 10 tackles, tied with senior defensive back James Herring.) Junior linebacker Matt Hudson recovered at the Yale 30. But Harvard could go nowhere, and resorted to a Dean pooch punt that was downed at the Elis six-yard line. A missed opportunity.

Likewise Harvard’s next drive. A 28-yard pass from Dean to sophomore wideout Ledger Hatch brought the ball to the Bulldog 21. Four rushes by Borguet moved it to the Yale six. But on second down, a Dean pass was tipped and ended up in the hands of defensive back Hamilton Moore. To get no points here was truly a shame and a pity.

Later in the period the Bulldogs drew first blood. (On the scoreboard, we mean.)  On a nine-play, 65-yard drive, the key play was a third-down, 21-yard Grooms scramble to the Harvard 14. The series culminated in a one-yard Peterson touchdown run. Jack Bosman kicked the extra point. Yale 7, Harvard 0.

Early in the second period the Crimson knotted the score. On second and nine from the Harvard 36, Dean flipped a quick pass to the right to Scott Woods II. The sophomore wideout caught it, cut around a Bulldog defender and, doing a passable Wimberly imitation, streaked 64 yards, all the way to the end zone. Lipel kicked the extra point. Harvard 7, Yale 7. 

Later in the period, though, a promising Crimson drive was blunted when Dean threw one straight into the mitts of the Bulldogs’ DaQuan Gonzales at the Yale 38. Thereupon the Bulldogs essentially bled the clock, using the final 4:34 to run 11 plays and set up Bosman’s half-ending, 20-yard field goal. Yale 10, Harvard 7.


On the first series of the second half. the Bulldogs added to their margin. In six plays Grooms advanced the ball 52 yards to the Crimson 23. When Harvard stiffened, Bosman booted a 40-yard field goal. Yale 13, Harvard 7.

Even as the Bulldogs kept moving the ball, Bosman missed two field goals—the second, from 49 yards, clanging off the left upright. Late in the period the Crimson took over at its 31 and began to drive. As the fourth quarter commenced, Dean connected twice with sophomore wideout Kaedyn Odermann—first, for nine yards, then for 12 yards. On first and ten from the Yale 24, Dean flicked a ball to the right to Neville, who was wide, wide open. The junior tight end gathered it in and ran the few remaining steps into the end zone. When Lipel kicked the extra point, it was, with 13:34 to play, Harvard 14, Yale 13.

Here Grooms proved his mettle. He engineered a 13-play drive that consumed 7:07. The Yale quarterback, who would finish a middling 15 of 28 for 144 yards, suddenly became a clutch passer, completing key tosses to Chase Nenad, Mason Tipton, Ryan Lindley, and Hawes. On second and goal from the Harvard five, Grooms took the snap and, when pressured by the Harvard rushers, faded back to buy time. When he spied Hawes crossing left to right, all alone, he flung the ball into his hands for the score. (The play bore some resemblance to the winning pass the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana completed to Dwight Clark in the 1982 NFC Championship Game in 1982, known forever as The Catch.) The two-point conversion attempt failed. Yale 19, Harvard 14.

Could the Crimson answer back? In the final 6:29 Harvard had the ball three times but could achieve only one first down. On a fourth-down scramble, Dean came up a yard short. The scariest moment for Yale came when Harvard defensive back Khalil Dawsey got his hands on a Grooms pass with nothing but green grass ahead of him—but Dawsey couldn’t hold on. 

Finally, the Crimson got the ball at its own 25 with 42 seconds left, a time of great portent for those who recall 1968, when Harvard scored twice in that span to forge a 29-29 tie. Not this time. On second down, Dean was tackled and flung the ball away backhanded—right into the hands of Moore. Game over. Season over.

Several Harvard stalwarts depart on a bittersweet note: among others, Borguet, Wimberly (whose presence on the field might have made a difference, but likely not), Jones, Herring, Dean. But Yale’s Grooms is only a junior, so he’ll be back. Expect to see him again next November in the 139th playing of the Game at the Yale Bowl.   


TIDBITS  The series, which began in 1875, now stands in favor of Yale, 69-61-8.  Yale has won four of the last six. In the Ivy League era (since 1956), Harvard leads 37-28-1. Coach Tim Murphy’s record in The Game in now 19-9….Senior running back Aidan Borguet finished with 62 yards rushing on 18 carries, bringing his season total to 1,182 yards on 206 carries. He ended the 2022 season ranked fifth all-time in Harvard single-season history; his 5.7-yards-per-carry average is the highest among the top five on the list. For his career, Borguet rushed for 2,429 yards to rank eighth all-time in program history.  

Weekly Roundup

Penn 20, Princeton 19

Dartmouth 30, Brown 7

Columbia 45, Cornell 22



                                    Ivy Games                     Overall

Yale                              6-1                               8-2

Princeton                    5-2                               8-2

Penn                             5-2                               8-2

HARVARD                  4-3                               6-4

Columbia                     3-4                               6-4

Dartmouth                  2-5                               3-7

Cornell                         2-5                               5-5

Brown                          1-6                               3-7


Coming up: The 42-week interlude between football games, during which we plan to study the philosophies of Heidegger, Schiller, and Amaker. The 149th season of Harvard football is scheduled to kick off at the Stadium on Saturday, September 16, 2023, against the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota). For now, happy, safe, and healthy holidays to all! 


The score by quarters

Yale 7 3 3 6     19
Harvard 0 7 0 7     14


Attendance:  30,006

Read more articles by: Dick Friedman

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