Harvard Football Wins The Game, 45-7, over Yale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Harvard fell behind by a touchdown before flexing its muscle as the Ivy League champion Crimson cruised past Yale, 45-7, at Yale Bowl in the 128th edition of The Game.

Harvard (9-1, 7-0 Ivy), which won its 14th Ivy title last weekend, continued its recent domination of Yale (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) by winning its sixth straight at Yale Bowl, fifth-straight in the series and 10th in the last 11 meetings. It marked the highest output against Yale since an identical score of 45-7 at Cambridge in 1982.

Last week, Harvard fell behind to Penn, 7-0, before scoring 37-straight points and performed in similar fashion this week, scoring 45 unanswered. 

Harvard's offensive might was on display from the beginning as the Crimson ran up 357 yards and 20 first downs in the opening half alone. All told, Harvard had 506 yards of offense as the Crimson set a single-season scoring record with 374 points. Defensively, Harvard sacked Yale's Jeff Witt four times, intercepted him three times and also forced a fumble.

Place kicker David Mothander ran for a five-yard touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter to make it a 21-7 Harvard lead; Chris Splinter blocked a field goal and Alex Gedeon, the 138th captain of Harvard football, returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown on his final collegiate snap.

Collier Winters, who set a single-season record for completion percentage (.686), stated his case for postseason honors, completed 27-of-42 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns while running for a game-high 62 and another touchdown.

Kyle Juszczyk and Alex Sarkisian led the receiving corps with seven catches and a touchdown each; Juszczyk had 107 yards and Sarkisian 97.

Bobby Schneider led the Crimson with 10 tackles (eight solo) while D.J. Monroe and Gedeon had nine tackles and an interception each. Josue Ortiz had his 10th solo sack of the season and, following the game, proposed to his girlfriend during the on-field celebration while surrounded by his teammates.

The game was anything but easy early on however.   

Harvard marched right down the field on its opening possession but Winters fumbled the ball into the Elis' endzone with the home team recovering for a touchback.

After trading possessions, the Bulldogs capitalized on a short Harvard punt. On third and three, Witt had great protection in the pocket and found Jackson Ligouri on a crossing pattern. Ligouri bounced off a tackler and shed another, spinning into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown at the 7:25 mark.

Facing a touchdown deficit for a third-straight week, Harvard answered immediately. The Crimson drove 73 yards, never facing a third down as Winters finished the drive with a 5-yard option carry to tie things at the 3:59 mark.

Yale's Ligouri then fumbled a would-be first down catch as Brian Owusu popped it from behind with Jaron Wilson recovering for the Crimson at its 43 yard line. The result came quickly as Winters found Sarkisian on a crossing pattern for a 20-yard strike on the first play of the second quarter for a 14-7 lead.

On Yale's ensuing possession, Splinter broke through to block a 34-yard yard field goal. Harvard took over on its 28 and drove 67 yards to Yale's five before lining up for a 22-yard field goal. Instead, Harvard faked it with holder Colton Chapple pitching the ball to Mothander. The former high school wide receiver, used to making plays, bullied his way into the end zone for 21-7 lead. Three possessions later, Mothander made it a 24-7 game at the half with a 22-yard field goal.

Late in the third quarter, Harvard pressured Witt into forcing a pass on 4th-and-5 from the Crimson 30. Jaron Wilson picked it off and Harvard went 60 yards on six plays, capping things on an 11-yard TD run from Zach Boden to make it a 31-7 game.

Things got worse for Yale as Juszczyk pulled in a short pass and shed his defender before outrunning the Yale defense for a 60-yard touchdown. Gedeon then jumped a Witt pass late in the game, returning it 35 yards for an exclamation on his fine career.