Harvard completed its third unbeaten season under Tim Murphy (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The 131st playing of The Game will go down as one of the most memorable in recent memory as the No. 14/15 Harvard football team scored with just 0:55 remaining to defeat Yale 31-24 at Harvard Stadium, securing an undefeated season for the Crimson and outright ownership of the Ivy League championship.
After Yale scored 21-unanswered points to erase a 24-7 deficit, Harvard took over possession with 3:44 on the clock at its own 22. On the eighth play of the drive, Conner Hempel hit Andrew Fischer on a double move for a 35-yard score, putting the Crimson back on top, 34-27.
Yale (8-2, 5-2 Ivy League) quickly drove the ball back into Harvard territory, but Scott Peters picked off Morgan Roberts' final pass to seal the victory.
Harvard finishes the season unbeaten at 10-0 and 7-0 in Ivy play, marking the third perfect season Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Head Coach for Harvard Football. The victory also gave the Crimson the Ivy League title outright, spoiling Yale's bid to earn a share of the crown.
Fischer finished the day with career-high 264 yards of total offense and two touchdowns, including the game-winning strike from Hempel. The junior caught eight passes for 149 yards, and added two rushes for 79 yards. Paul Stanton, Jr., carried the ball 22 times for 113 yards and one touchdown, with Hempel finishing the afternoon 18-of-28 for 191 yards.
Captain Norman Hayes paced the defense with 13 total tackles and made several big hits to help set the tone early. Zack Hodges registered six tackles, including three for a loss, and two sacks, to complete his career as Harvard's all-time sacks leads with 27.
Harvard capitalized first on a blocked punt by Ryan Jones that resulted in a 25-yard field goal from Andrew Flesher for a 3-0 lead. Yale marched 72 yards on the ensuing possession, however, and punched it in from 6 yards to take a 7-3 margin into the second quarter.
Fischer broke loose for a 58-yard gain on an end-around late in the quarter, but the drive stalled on a Stanton fumble and the score stood going into halftime.
The Crimson opened the second half with a 28-yard kickoff return by senior Seitu Smith II. Harvard proceeded to march the ball down the field with Stanton punching it in from one-yard out, regaining a 10-7 lead for Harvard.
The Crimson quickly added to the lead with a 40-yard completion from Smith for Fischer, and a 90-yard pick-six by Connor Sheehan moved the score to 24-7. For Smith it was the second touchdown pass of his career, while Sheehan became the Crimson's all-time leader in interceptions returned for a touchdown with his third of the season.
Yale scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 24-24 on Candler Rich's seven-yard rush, setting up Harvard's end-of-game heroics.