Big Second Half Gives Crimson a 28-21 Win over Yale in The Game

Gino Gordon runs for the first of his two touchdowns during Harvard's 28-21 win over Yale on Nov. 20, 2010 (Gil Talbot/ Harvard Athletics) Buy Now
Gino Gordon runs for the first of his two touchdowns during Harvard's 28-21 win over Yale on Nov. 20, 2010 (Gil Talbot/ Harvard Athletics)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Three second-half scores by the Harvard football team proved to be the difference as the Crimson downed Yale, 28-21, in the 127th playing of The Game, Saturday at Harvard Stadium. Senior tailback Gino Gordon rushed for a score in each half and quarterback Collier Winters was 13-of-16 for 124 yards and a touchdown in the victory. With the win, Harvard has now claimed nine of the last ten meetings between the two teams and graduates a senior class that has never lost to Yale.

The Harvard senior class also holds the distinction of being the only class in Harvard football history to defeat Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth in all four seasons - and it also defeated Columbia and Cornell all four tries. Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, now holds a 12-5 career record against the Bulldogs.     

The teams traded punts to start the game but Yale got on the board first, as it started its second drive of the game at its own 48 yard line. The Bulldogs put together a 10-play, 52-yard drive and capped it off with a two-yard score by Alex Thomas at 5:57 of the first quarter.

The Crimson answered back just over three minutes later as Gordon punched in the first of his two touchdowns at the 2:24 mark. After starting the drive at its own 36 and working the ball to near midfield on a series of short plays, the Crimson opened up its bag of tricks and probed deep into Yale territory on a 46-yard flea-flicker pass from Winters to Marco Iannuzzi to the Yale five. The next three rushes went for just four yards, but a well-executed fourth-and-goal option run to Gordon evened the score at 7-7.

Yale threatened at the start of the second, but a 46-yard field goal attempt by Phillipe Panico fell short and the score stayed knotted at 7-all. On its next possession, Yale drove all the way down to the Harvard 10, but Alexander Norman and Nick Hasselberg dropped Yale tailback Mordecai Gargill for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-one to stymie a promising drive. Yale's final possession of the half proved to be the charm, highlighted by a 30-yard completion from Patrick Witt to Chris Smith with just under a minute to go. After working the ball to the Harvard two, Thomas found the endzone with just 13 seconds in the half, putting the score at 14-7 in favor of the guests.

Yale enjoyed tremendous fiels position throughout the first half, with an average starting point at its own 43 yards line while holding the ball for over 20 minutes.

The disadvantage didn't sit well with the home team and it showed on the second half kickoff as Iannuzzi fielded the kick at his own 16 and rumbled 84 yards for the touchdown, his second kickoff return touchdown this season.It was his first kick return since Oct. 2 as he made a speedy recovery from a broken collarbone suffered against Lafayette.

The teams traded punts once again and after a solid defensive stand by the Crimson which forced Yale's second punt of the third quarter, junior tackle Josue Ortiz barreled through the Bulldog line and blocked Greg Carlsen's punt. The ball caromed backwards and scooted out of bounds at the Yale 23, giving the Crimson prime field position. Harvard worked its way down the field and on first-and-goal from the two, Gordon notched his second touchdown of the day at the 3:00 mark, giving Harvard its first lead of the game at 21-14.

The Crimson padded its lead midway through the fourth after a short Yale punt gave Harvard great starting field position at the Bulldog 36. A pair of penalties and a five-yard rush by Treavor Scales set up a first-and-goal to go situation at the Yale nine and three plays later, Winters found Alex Sarkisian on a waggle pass and the junior tucked the ball inside the right pylon from 12 yards out for his first career score.

After stopping the Bulldogs on another fourth-down attempt from the Harvard 20, the Crimson coughed up a costly turnover that the Bulldogs turned into points on a 4th-and-goal from the one. After taking over at the Crimson 19, Yale had an interception negated by a Harvard penalty and Thomas plunged in for his third rushing score of the day with 3:15 showing on the clock. A three-and-out by Harvard saw the ball go back to Yale with 2:02 on the clock but after an offensive pass interference call set up a third-and-17 situation, the Crimson defense held tight, forcing the turnover on downs and sealing the 28-21 win.

Harvard ends its 2010 campaign with a 7-3 overall record and a 5-2 mark in Ivy League play. Yale also ends its season at 7-3 and 5-2 in the league. For Harvard, the win means finishing with at least seven wins for a 10th-straight season. Harvard is the only Ivy team to even have a stretch of seven consecutive seven-win seasons.

Senior LB Nick Hasselberg tied a single game record for tackles in a game (20), with 10 in each half, tying Isaiah Kacyvenski '00, who did it twice in the 1999 season (Colgate, Fordham) … Senior DE Ryan Burkhead had a career-high 2.5 sacks for -20 yards … Four Harvard players finished with double digit tackles (Hasselberg – 20, Alex Gedeon – 17, Chuks Obi – 97, Ortiz – 11) for the first time this season … Harvard's senior class went undefeated against Yale (4-0 over four years) for just the fifth time in school history but second time since 2000 (2001-04) … The senior class went undefeated against Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth (combined 12-0), marking the first time a class has done that in school history … The seniors are one of two graduating classes to go unbeaten against Yale and Princeton (1912-15) …  Harvard has defeated Yale in nine of the last 10 years … Harvard senior wide receiver Zar Zavala (El Paso, Texas) was notified minutes after the game's conclusion that he had earned a Rhodes Scholarship. Zavala, who played in three games this season, had previously earned the Marshall Scholarship and just flew back from his interview today, landing in Boston at 12:23 ... Harvard's junior varsity team defeated Yale by an identical 28-21 score on Friday.