Winters Returns to Lead Football Past Princeton, 56-39
The Crimson remains unbeaten in the Ivy League with a 56-39 victory over Princeton at Harvard Stadium (Kevin Burns).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Collier Winters stepped onto the field for the first time in over a month and turned in a career performance on Saturday, throwing for five touchdowns and 403 yards and rushing for another score as the Crimson defeated Princeton at Harvard Stadium, 56-39.
Winters is the second Crimson quarterback to tie the school record with five passing touchdowns in as many weeks. Colton Chapple, who started four straight games in place of the injured Winters and found himself ranked second nationally in passing efficiency, threw for five scores in Harvard's 42-3 win over Bucknell last week and Carroll Lowenstein '52 ('54) did the same in 1953.
Winters also became only the fourth quarterback in Crimson history (and second this season) to throw for over 400 yards.
Harvard (5-1, 3-0 Ivy League) took what looked to be a commanding 35-9 lead less than three minutes into the second half before 23 unanswered points pulled Princeton (1-5, 1-2 Ivy League) within 42-39 with 13:09 remaining in the game. The Crimson responded with a one-yard score from Treavor Scales to cap off an 11-play, 67-yard drive on the ensuing possession after Scales set up the first and goal situation with a 17-yard reception on third and 12. Alex Gedeon intercepted a Tommy Wornham pass three plays later, leading to Winters' fifth and final touchdown throw of 17 yards to Cameron Brate.
For Gedeon, it marked the fourth-straight game that he has factored in a defensive takeaway for the Crimson.
Princeton's comeback began with a Chuck Dibilio 42-yard touchdown run followed by a 36-yard touchdown reception by Shane Wilkinson. Wornham scored from one yard out on a quarterback sneak and after the two-point conversion the Tigers trailed by just three.
Harvard's 56 points mark the first 50-point performance for the Crimson since a 55-7 win over Columbia on Nov. 5, 2005. Harvard has also scored at least 40 points in each of its last three games, a feat which the team has not accomplished since 1932.
Nine different receivers caught a pass from Winters on Saturday, including Chris Lorditch and Seitu Smith III who each snared six apiece. Smith accounted for 220 total yards on the day, as he recorded 122 yards on kickoff returns, 54 receiving, 42 on punt returns and two rushing. This is the third straight game the freshman has turned in over 100 total yards of production. Lorditch finished with 101 yards for his second 100-yard performance of the year. Harvard added 181 yards on the ground led by Scales' 86-yards and two scores.
Joshua Boyd recorded a career-high 17 tackles (6 solo) and recovered a Princeton fumble in the first half. Gedeon added 11 tackles (3 solo) and the interception. The senior captain has factored in four turnovers for the Crimson defense in the team's last four games.
The teams combined for 1,116 yards of offense with the Crimson edging Princeton, 560-556. Harvard produced 33 first downs, one shy of its single-game team record.
Princeton scored on the first possession of the day, needing just 1:07 to complete a four-play, 53-yard drive. Harvard came back with a 69-yard scoring drive of its own, with Winters punching the ball in from one yard out, and scored on its second possession when Winters connected with Matt Brown for a 29-yard conversion. Winters was a perfect 6-6 in his first two drives back, throwing for 112 yards with one score in the air and one on the ground.
Harvard held a 21-9 advantage at halftime following Scales' first touchdown of the day. Winters connected with Lorditch for a 53-yard score on the fifth play of the second half and later found Alex Sarkisian for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Crimson the 35-9 advantage.
Harvard returns to action Oct. 29 against Dartmouth at Harvard Stadium at 6:00 p.m.