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Night Life: Harvard Hosts Holy Cross Saturday at The Stadium

The Particulars
Harvard opens its 137th season Saturday night with a stern test against the Holy Cross Crusaders at Harvard Stadium. The game is also live on GoCrimson.com.

For the fourth time in the last five years, Harvard was selected to win the Ivy League championship in a poll of the national media.  The Crimson will once again have a tough test immediately as reigning Patriot League champion Holy Cross will be playing its third game of the season while Harvard is in its first.

The Promotions
Harvard has a bevy of promotions for Saturday game. All Harvard students, faculty and staff will receive free admission as will all residents of Allston and Brighton.

Opening Day
Harvard is an impressive 111-23-2 in season-openers (.827). The Crimson has won its opening game in seven of the last nine years and is 10-6 on Opening Day under current head coach Tim Murphy.

Let There Be Light
Harvard is playing its fourth straight home-opening game under the lights at The Stadium. Harvard is 3-0 in its previous openers including a win over Holy Cross in 2008.

Series History
Saturday's game will be the 64th meeting between Harvard and Holy Cross in a series that dates to 1904. Harvard, which enjoyed 36 consecutive home games in the series from 1904 to 1980, holds a 38-23-2 series lead.

Harvard has won six of the last eight meetings and 10 of the last 13 although Holy Cross has taken two of the last three (both at home) in what has become an early season meeting among teams vying for national rankings.

Last Year's Meeting
In a battle of Top 25 teams at Fitton Field Saturday, 23rd-ranked Holy Cross outlasted No. 25 Harvard by a score of 27-20 as the Crusaders forced a late fumble to seal victory. 

Holy Cross (3-0), playing its third home game of the season, took advantage of several Crimson mistakes in the first half as Harvard (0-1) was playing its season opener. In the end, a solid effort by Harvard put the Crimson in position to tie or win it but Holy Cross made a final defensive stand late in the fourth quarter.

Harvard's Last Time Out
In a game of inches and legendary fourth down gambles to end its 2009 campaign, Harvard stunned Yale by scoring two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter as the Crimson downed the Bulldogs, 14-10, in the 126th playing of The Game in front of 52,692 fans at Yale Bowl.

With Yale leading 10-0 late in the fourth, Harvard drove 76 yards in just 1:50 on six plays as Collier Winters found a streaking Matt Luft for a 41-yard touchdown with 6:46 remaining. The score would never have been possible were it not for Gino Gordon, who spun out of a tackle on fourth-and-four from his own 30 yards line, eventually rumbling 19 yards to keep Harvard's hopes alive.

Yale eventually found itself in fourth down with 22 yards to go from its 25 yard line at 2:40 on the clock. With the league's best punter in Tom Mante waiting to boot it down field, Yale instead called an improbably reverse run fake punt that fell seven yards shy as Collin Zych came up with the stop, giving Harvard the ball at Yale's 40 yard line with 2:25 as a stunned Yale crowd looked on.

It took Harvard just three plays to devastate the crowd again as Chris Lorditch cut across the middle of the field and then swiftly past two defenders up the seam as Winters lofted a perfect pass over the inside coverage. Thirty two yards later, Harvard suddenly led 14-10.

Holy Cross' Last Time Out
Massachusetts quarterback Kyle Havens threw for 293 yards and two scores as the Minutemen jumped on Holy Cross early and didn't let up in a 31-7 victory on Saturday in Amherst.

In addition to Havens' performance through the air, the Minutemen (2-0) rushed for 232 yards and two more touchdowns as the Crusaders (1-1) failed to slow down a multi-faceted Massachusetts offense.

The Minutemen jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after a 19-yard touchdown reception by Dan Sheeran and a 1-yard touchdown run from John Griffin.

A Jonathan Hernandez 1-yard touchdown run followed by a 3-yard touchdown reception by Rob Blanchflower and a 37-yard field goal by Caleb Violette as time expired in the first half gave Massachusetts a 31-0 lead.

The running back duo of Griffin, who rushed for 75 yards, and Hernandez, who added 71, led the way on the ground for the Minutemen.

Holy Cross was limited to 43 rushing yards and held the ball for just 21 minutes.

Harvard Coach Tim Murphy
In his 17th season as Harvard's head coach, Tim Murphy enters Saturday's game with a 104-55 record with the Crimson and a 136-100-1 overall head coaching record, which includes five years at Cincinnati and two years at Maine. Murphy is one of just five coaches to win 100 games since the formation of the Ivy League in 1954. Murphy has led Harvard to five Ivy League championships (1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008). He is 11-4 all-time against Holy Cross.

Holy Cross Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his seventh season at Holy Cross sideline, and he enters the game against Harvard with a 40-28 record with the Crusaders. Gilmore, who played at Penn as an undergraduate, was the 1985 Ivy League player of the year. He is 2-4 against Harvard as a head coach.

Elite Company
With 104 career victories on the Harvard sideline, head coach Tim Murphy ranks second on the Crimson's all-time wins chart. Murphy is 13 wins away from Joe Restic's school record 117 wins (from 1971-93).

Ivy Era Coaches
Since the formal naming of the Ivy League in 1956, just five coaches have reached the 100-win plateau with two of them being Harvard men.

Carm Cozza, Yale: 179
Bob Blackman, Dartmouth 127
Al Bangnoli, Penn: 122
Joe Restic, Harvard: 117
Tim Murphy, Harvard: 104

Success
Over the past 12 years, Harvard has won five Ivy League championships (four outright) and had two undefeated seasons while posting the Football Championship Subdivision's second-highest winning percentage this decade.

Did You Say Nine Times?
The Crimson has finished with at least seven wins in each of the last nine years, becoming the only program in Ivy League history to have such a stretch of success. Three years ago, Harvard became the first Ivy team to post a string of even seven such seasons together.

The current stretch is the Crimson's best nine-year run since a 28-year streak of seven-plus win seasons came to an end in 1911. The program has won 65 games over the past nine seasons.

Coach's Road Trip
This summer, Tim Murphy embarked on a week-long journey overseas to speak with men and women of the United States military as part of the Coaches Tour 2010. The purpose of the trip was to provide service men and women with a break from the rigors of active duty while providing a temporary outlet of something sports-related.

Murphy was joined on the trip by Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, Illinois coach Ron Zook and West Point head coach Rich Ellerson. Murphy and Kelly were also guest lecturers at the USC Coach of the Year Clinic at The Galen Center Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. earlier in the summer.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Harvard captain Collin Zych was named as the Ivy League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the College Sporting News as part of its 2010 FCS Yearbook edition. Zych was named to the same honor by The Sporting News and has also earned the honor from Lindy's.

This summer, Zych was named to three different preseason All-America teams and also has an invitation to the Football Championship Subdivision Senior Scout Bowl later this year.

Tough Scheduling
Harvard has the toughest non-conference schedule as compiled from the preseason rankings from Any Given Saturday and The Sports Network. In order of hardest schedule:

1.Harvard- #14 Holy Cross, TOP 50 Lafayette, TOP 50 Lehigh
2.Princeton- TOP 50 Lehigh, TOP 50 Lafayette, #21 Colgate
3.Penn- TOP 50 Lafayette, #1 Villanova, Bucknell
4.Brown- TOP 50 Stony Brook, Rhode Island, #14 Holy Cross
5.Dartmouth- Bucknell, Sacred Heart, #14 Holy Cross
6.Cornell- Wagner, Bucknell, #21 Colgate
7.Columbia- Fordham, Towson, TOP 50 Lafayette
8.Yale- Georgetown, TOP 50 Albany, Fordham

Conference Call
Harvard has won 16 of its last 21 non-league games dating back to 2003. Harvard's last undefeated  nonleague schedule came in 2008 (3-0) and was the fourth time in a six-year span that the Crimson went undefeated against the Patriot League's trio of Holy Cross, Lafayette and Lehigh.

League Matters
Harvard was picked first alongside in the 2010 Ivy League preseason media poll for the fourth time in the last five years. The Crimson received 10 of the 17 first place votes.

1. Harvard (10)           128
2. Penn (6)       124
3. Brown         95
4. Yale (1)       83
5. Columbia     61
6. Princeton     55
7. Dartmouth   39
8. Cornell        27

Crimson Tide, Crimson
Harvard currently ranks ninth among all college football programs — and second among FCS schools — in all-time wins.

School                         Wins
1.        Michigan         878
2.         Yale                 857
3.         Texas               845
4.         Notre Dame    837
5.         Nebraska         826
6.         Ohio State       818
7.         Alabama          815
8.         Penn State       812
9.         Harvard             805
10.       Penn                799*
*Penn forfeited five wins in 1997 due to the use of an ineligible player.

Complete Game Notes
For complete games notes in PDF format, click on the link at the beginning of this page.