Defense, Balanced Offense Lead No. 16 Football to 29-13 Win vs. Cornell

Harvard ran its winning streak against Cornell to 11 games, the longest in series history. (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –  Semar Smith recorded three rushing touchdowns and 71 yards, and Joe Viviano threw for 229 yards and one touchdown, adding 57 yards on the ground to lead No. 16 Harvard (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) to a 29-13 win over Cornell (3-1, 1-1 Ivy) Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.

Harvard stretched its winning streak against Cornell in football to 11 games dating back to 2005, the longest in the series between Ivy rivals that dates back to 1890.

The Crimson defense recorded three interceptions on the day, with Tanner Lee notching two of them, Harvard's first two interception game since Connor Sheehan had two on Nov. 8, 2014.  The Harvard defense came up with big stops when it had to, holding Cornell to just 5-of-14 on third down.

With Harvard up 20-7 midway through the third quarter and Cornell threatening to make it a one-score game, Lee recorded his second interception of the game in the Crimson end zone, picking off a 21-yard pass from Cornell's Dalton Banks.

Harvard put together an 11-play, 66-yard drive resulting in a Jake McIntyre 31-yard field goal with 2:33 to play in the third quarter, giving the Crimson a 23-7 lead.

Cornell punted on its next two possessions, and Smith sealed the win with a four-yard touchdown run with 7:28 to play in the fourth quarter, capping off another long Harvard drive (12 plays, 60 yards).

The Big Red scored on a 29-yard passing touchdown from Banks to Ben Rogers with 4:10 to play, but the Crimson recovered the ensuing onside kick, ending Cornell's comeback hopes.

In the opening quarter, the Crimson wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as sophomore linebacker Anthony Camargo intercepted the first play of the game, giving Harvard control of the ball. Viviano found Anthony Firkser for the first touchdown, just 53 seconds into the game.

The two teams then traded possessions and Cornell forced a Crimson punt to take over at the 24-yard line. Cornell's Banks hit Rogers with a quick screen pass on first down and he broke free from the Harvard defense, taking it 41 yards to tie the score 7-7 with 4:11 left to play in the opening quarter.

Harvard's offense quickly returned to the field ready for action. Viviano led Harvard 80 yards down the field, rushing for 35 yards during the drive. On second down at the Cornell four-yard line, Viviano handed off to Semar Smith for his second touchdown of the day to make it 14-7.

In the second quarter, the Crimson and the Big Red traded interceptions to stall the offensive momentum of the game. Harvard's Tanner Lee intercepted Banks' 11-yard pass in the beginning of the second quarter, only to be met by an interception from Cornell's Nick Gesuadli in the next play. Harvard and Cornell went drive-for-drive, but the teams were not able to score in the second quarter.

Harvard's offensive line dominated on an early third quarter scoring drive, helping the Crimson move 80 yards in 14 plays. Semar Smith rushed for 18 yards during the drive, including a six-yard TD run, increasing Harvard's lead to 20-7 before a blocked extra point. But Harvard stopped Cornell's momentum on Lee's interception to remain undefeated on the season.

The Crimson will take on Holy Cross next Saturday in a road contest that will air at 1 p.m. on Charter TV3.