Harvard Football Outlasts Penn, 38-30, on Senior Day
Captain Josh Boyd made an interception and led the Crimson eight tackles (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard football team withstood a 30-0 run by Penn to close the game, as the Crimson held off the Quakers, 38-30, Saturday afternoon before 10,235 fans at Harvard Stadium. The win was Harvard's fourth over Penn in the last five games the Quakers have traveled to Cambridge.
With the win, the Crimson enters the final weekend of the regular season at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Ivy League. The Crimson honored its 36 seniors before the contest in a pre-game ceremony. During their time in Cambridge, these seniors have posted an overall record of 32-7, an Ivy League mark of 22-5 and a 19-2 record at Harvard Stadium. With a Harvard win and a Dartmouth win over Princeton next week in Hanover, N.H., the Crimson would earn a share of the conference crown.
Harvard will travel to New Haven, Conn., for the 130th playing of The Game Saturday, Nov. 23. Kickoff is at noon, and The Game will be shown live nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Conner Hempel completed his first 11 passing attempts of the game, finishing 21-of-25 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the leading rusher in the contest, running for 65 yards on 12 carries and a score. Paul Stanton, Jr., found the end zone twice for the Crimson, giving him 13 touchdowns on the year, tying Chris Menick '00 for third place on Harvard's single-season list. Stanton had 14 rushes for 60 yards in the game.
Crimson captain Josh Boyd led the team with eight tackles and also made an interception, his first since 2010. Harvard also blocked two punts on the day.
Harvard found its way onto the scoreboard with 3:41 remaining in the first quarter. The Crimson utilized an 11-play, 75 yard drive in 6:03 capped by a Cameron Brate touchdown from Hempel. Hempel connected with Brate at the right corner for the 15-yard score. It marks Brate's first reception after being sidelined by injury for the previous two games.
After forcing Penn (4-5, 3-3 Ivy) to punt on its next possession, Harvard took over at its own 46 yard-line. On 1st and 10 Hempel found Ben Braunecker to move the ball to Penn's two-yard line. On the next snap, Hempel rolled out to the left and made his way into the end zone to extend the Crimson lead to 14-0.
Two possessions later, Harvard conducted a 10-play, 62 yard drive that ended with a David Mothander 20-yard field goal attempt to push the score to 17-0 with 3:01 remaining in the half. With this kick, Mothander tied Mike Giampolo '00 for third place in program history with 26 career field goals.
On Penn's next possession, quarterback Ryan Becker was unable to find Connor Scott forcing the Quakers to punt. On its own 28 yard line, Harvard Norman Hayes blocked the attempt and teammate Jaron Wilson recovered the ball to put the Crimson in scoring territory.
After the second blocked punt of the day, Hempel took the field and orchestrated a two play, 40 yard precision drive with recording his first touchdown of the game as he broke through the hole to put the Crimson ahead 24-0.
On the ensuing possession, Penn's quarterback Billy Ragone took the snap and sent a pass into the hands of Joshua Boyd. The Crimson offense came back out with 31 seconds remaining in the half.
On first down, Hempel found Ricky Zorn for a 37-yard reception to put the ball at the three yard line. On the next play, Hempel registered his second touchdown pass of the day when he found Ryan Halvorson in the right corner of the end zone. The Crimson went into the locker room leading, 31-0, its largest halftime lead this season.
On its opening drive of the second half, Hempel handed the ball off to Stanton who pushed the ball across the line as the Crimson went up, 38-0.
Penn's first drive in the third quarter looked like it might end in a touchdown as Quaker's Lonnie Tuff returned the ball to Harvard's 30 before Asante Gibson got a hold of the ball and ripped it out and Caleb Johnson fell on the ball to give the Crimson possession.
The Quakers came out on its next four possessions and scored four unanswered touchdowns. Penn first got onto the board when quarterback Adam Strouss pushed his way into the end zone on a nine play, 61-yard drive. Becker kept the drive going on 4th and 5 when he connected with Ryan Mitchell to put Penn into scoring position. Connor Loftus hit the extra point to make 38-7.
Penn's momentum continued on its next possession at the start of the fourth. On second down, Cassius Simpson burst into the end zone to make the score, 38-14 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Quakers late-game rally continued on as Penn's offense conducted a nine play, 61-yard drive highlighted by a six yard Ben Challgren touchdown from Becker. The Quakers successfully converted a two-point attempted when Ryan Ripp drove into the end zone to close the gap, 38-22 with 8:24 left in the game.
Penn made it an eight-point game when Scott came down with a Becker pass in the end zone. Penn converted on its second two-point attempt as Ryan O'Malley caught the ball in the back of the end zone.