Harvard's swarming defense limited Bucknell to just 23 yards rushing (Photo courtesy: Justine Agaloos).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - After exploding out of the gates the last two weekends, Harvard's offense was held in check by the Bucknell Bison for the first 20 minutes of the game; however, the No. 21/22 Crimson eventually found its rhythm and cruised to its 14th straight win, 35-7, at Harvard Stadium Saturday evening.
The Bison, who came into the game with one of the nation's top run defenses, held Harvard to just seven points and forced a turnover in the early going, but the Crimson eventually scored on its final three possessions of the second quarter and its first of the third to put the game out of reach and improve to 5-0 in 2012.
Harvard's Colton Chapple finished the game 11-of-18 for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and he also carried the ball eight times for 120 yards and two scores to lead the team in rushing. Kyle Juszczyk had two grabs for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Cameron Brate added five catches for 57 yards and a score.
Defensively, it was an entire team effort for the Crimson as 10 different players accounted for the team's 12 tackles for loss for a total of 52 yards. Josh Hodges led the way with 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack, while Nnamdi Obukwelu had a team-high seven tackles and two quarterback hurries.
While the offense struggled to get going, the Crimson's defense carried the team in the beginning, forcing turnovers on back-to-back possessions.
Following a Chapple interception, Bucknell took over deep in Harvard territory and was marching towards an early lead when Chris Splinter intercepted a Brandon Wesley pass in the end zone to keep the Bison off the board.
After a Harvard punt on the ensuing possession, linebacker Matt Martindale leveled Wesley in the backfield to force a fumble that was recovered by Jaron Wilson at the Bucknell 27 to give the Crimson the ball back.
Harvard was finally able to take advantage of a Bison turnover as Chapple rushed the ball three times to account for all the yardage on the series, culminating the drive with a six-yard option keeper to get Harvard on the board with 4:01 left in the first.
Bucknell briefly stymied the offensive attack, but the Crimson found the end zone again on its second possession of the second quarter to open up the floodgates.
Chapple was again the catalyst, carrying the ball for 17 yards and throwing it for 54, including a 14-yard touchdown strike to Brate at the 7:07 mark.
After forcing a Bucknell punt on the Bison's next offensive series, Andrew Fischer took a reverse 52 yards untouched into the end zone on the Crimson's first play of the drive to extend Harvard's lead to 21.
The Crimson hit pay dirt again after getting the ball back as Juszczyk plowed through the Bucknell defense, shedding four Bison tacklers, to score from 59 yards out to cap a four-play, 81-yard drive with 1:41 left in the half.
In the second half, the Bison held the ball for the first 8:57 of the third, but it didn't slow the Harvard offense. After sitting for nearly 40 minutes of real time, Chapple moved the ball down the field in just four plays, capping the series with a 59-yard scamper for his second rushing score of the game.
While the outcome was never in jeopardy in the second half, Bucknell did ruin the shutout with 59 seconds remaining as Jeremiah Young plunged in from one yard out to deny the Crimson its first shutout since 2008.
The Crimson heads to New Jersey next week for a showdown with Princeton at 1 p.m.
- Harvard extended its winning streak to 14 games with each victory by double figures.
- Chapple has accounted for at least four touchdowns in the last three games after having five against Holy Cross and Cornell.
- Harvard has scored 205 points in its first five games, which is the most since the Crimson had 224 in 1892.
- Chapple now has 13 touchdown passes at the halfway point of the season.
- Chapple has nine touchdowns in two games against the Bison after throwing for five last season and rushing and throwing for two this year.
- Harvard received the ball to start the game for the first time this season.
- Harvard failed to score on its opening drive for the first time in three weeks.
- Chapple's interception was just his third of the year.
- Splinter's end zone interception was his second in as many weeks.
- Josh Boyd has now played a part in a turnover in the last three games. He forced a fumble against Holy Cross, forced and recoverd a fumble versus Cornell and tipped the ball on Splinter's interception.
- Chapple's touchdown run was his third of the year.
- Fisher's 52-yard touchdown run is Harvard's second longest scoring run of the season behind Treavor Scales' 66-yard rush against San Diego in the season opener.
- Juszczyk's 59-yard TD reception is Harvard's longest passing play of the season and second-longest scoring play.
- Chapple threw for two touchdowns in the quarter, upping his total to nine passing touchdowns and two rushing scores in the last three first halves. In those six quarters, he has completed 38-of-56 passes for 607 yards.
- Harvard held Bucknell to -11 rushing yards in the first half and 90 net total yards.
- The Crimson scored its three touchdowns in the span of six offensive plays, and the drives lasted a total of 11 plays (six, one and four plays).
- Chapple's 59-yard rush supplanted Fisher's score as the second-longest scoring run of the season and matched Juszczyk's for second-longest scoring play.
- Prior to Chapple, the last time a Harvard quarterback rushed for over 100 yards in a game was Oct. 29, 2011 when Collier Winters had 15 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns versus Dartmouth at home.
- Bucknell's touchdown with 59 seconds left snapped a streak of 56 consecutive points scored by the Crimson.
- The touchdown also ended Harvard's hopes of its first shutout since it blnaked Yale, 10-0, Nov. 22, 2008.
- The 7-play, 91-yard touchdown drive by Bucknell is the longest drive by an opponent this season.