Football Readies for 2017 Season Opener at Rhode Island Saturday

Senior Semar Smith is a sociology concentrator (Gil Talbot).
Senior Semar Smith is a sociology concentrator (Gil Talbot).
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Harvard (0-0) vs. Rhode Island (0-2)
Sept. 16, 2017
    1 p.m.
Meade Stadium
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   CAA College Sports Live
Steve McDonald, Terry Lynch
Bloomberg 1330 AM/106.1 FM
Bernie Corbett, Mike Giardi '94
Harvard leads, 3-0
     W, 51-21 (Sep. 16, 2016)
Harvard vs. URI (PDF)

The Storyline
The Harvard football team opens its 144th season Saturday afternoon, as the Crimson visits Rhode Island at Meade Stadium. Harvard, which is coming off a 7-3 season, was 5-2 in the Ivy League last year, while the Rams sit 0-2 this fall. Saturday's game will be broadcast on the CAA Network. Steve McDonald and Terry Lynch will have the call. 

Dating back to 2011, Harvard has won 13-straight games played in the month of September and has earned five-consecutive victories on opening day (since 2012). 

Opening Day
With the victory over Rhode Island last season, Harvard has now won 14 of the last 16 season openers, including five in a row, and is an impressive 118-23-2 (.832) all-time in the first game of the season. Under current head coach Tim Murphy, the Crimson is 17-6 (.739) on opening day. 

Series History
Saturday's game will be the fourth all-time meeting between Harvard and Rhode Island. The Crimson won the first game in 1923 at Harvard Stadium, 35-0, and earned a 41-10 victory in 2015 in Kingston, Rhode Island. Last year, Harvard took down the Rams by a score of 51-21 at Harvard Stadium on Sept. 16, 2016.  

The Numbers
QB Tyler Harris has thrown four touchdown passes for the Rams through two games. Last time out against Stony Brook, Harris was 15-of-32 for 185 yards and one score as the Seawolves held off URI, 35-18. Aaron Parker (82.5 ypg) and Marven Beauvais (80.0 ypg) are Harris's favorite targets through the air. Cornerback D.J. Stewart paced the Rams' defense with 11 stops against Stony Brook and has a team-high 22 tackles on the year. 

Harvard opens its season while much of the country is already in its third week of play. The Crimson was voted to finish first, tied with Princeton, in the Ancient Eight preseason poll.

Harvard vs. the CAA
With Harvard's 51-21 victory over Rhode Island Sept. 16, 2016, the Crimson boasts a record of 25-4-2 (.839) against schools currently in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Ivy League's Finest
Seven returning Crimson earned All-Ivy honors in 2016, led by first team selection junior Justice Shelton-Mosley. Seniors Luke Hutton and Raishaun McGhee, along with junior DJ Bailey and sophomore Jake McIntyre received second team laurels, while senior Tanner Lee and junior Adam Scott notched honorable mention recognition. 

Leading by Example
Harvard expects big production from a number of returning players, especially those that led the Crimson in numerous statistical categories in 2016. Harvard returns its leading passer, rusher and receiver, with senior Joe Viviano (2,013 passing yards), senior Semar Smith (487 rushing yards) and junior Justice Shelton-Mosley (48 receptions) all back in the fold this season. 

Defensively, seniors Luke Hutton and Tanner Lee will spearhead a defensive unit that was among the nation's best in scoring defense and rushing defense a year ago. Hutton led the Crimson with 56 tackles (25 primary/31 assists) and Lee had a team-best four interceptions in 2016.

Preseason Accolades
Junior Justice Shelton-Mosley, a wide receiver, was selected to the STATS FCS Preseason All-America third team. Shelton-Mosley earned STATS FCS All-America third team honors after the 2015 campaign. 

Among the Nation's Best
Sophomore placekicker Jake McIntyre ranked 17th in the nation during his rookie campaign in Crimson with an .800 field-goal percentage, converting eight of ten attempts a year ago. Defensive back Tanner Lee was 24th nationally with 0.4 interceptions per contest, and quarterback Joe Viviano finished 25th in total offense (261.1).

Justice is Served

Justice Shelton-Mosley was a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League first team, while also being named to the Academic All-Ivy League team. Shelton-Mosley led the Crimson with 48 catches en route to 568 yards and one receiving touchdown.   He surpassed 100 yards receiving in last year's opening contest against URI. 

Shelton-Mosley currently sits 15th in program history with 88 career receptions, while his 1,157 yards gained ranks 17th all-time. 

History in the Making
Justice Shelton-Mosley opens the season as the top returner in Harvard history in both kick and punt returns. The junior standout is averaging 27.5 yards per kickoff return and 13.5 yards per punt return. His totals of 19.0 yards per punt return and 33.1 yards per kickoff return in 2015 are both single-season Crimson records. 

On the Rise
Senior quarterback Joe Viviano has his sights on climbing the Harvard record books after a dominant season as a first-year starter. Viviano ranked fifth all-time for a season with 173 completions, seventh with 2,354 total yards, and eighth in single-season passing at 2,013 yards. He currently has the sixth-highest career completion percentage, completing 173-of-284 passes (.609).

The Captain
Linebacker Luke Hutton was named the 144th captain of Harvard football. The Crimson elects just one captain each season. 

Where We Are Now
This week's game will be Harvard's 1,303rd varsity football game. The Crimson has an all-time record of 864-388-50 (.683).

Preseason Prognostication
For just the third time in the storied history of the Ivy League, there has been a tie among the top of the football preseason poll. The Crimson (five first-place votes), along with Princeton (six first-place votes), have tied for the top spot in the 2017 poll. This was the third-straight year Harvard has ended up on top of the preseason poll.

Harvard and Princeton both totaled 120 points, followed by Penn (110 points), Yale (71), Dartmouth (60), Brown (57), Columbia (38) and Cornell (36). Penn earned five first-place votes, along with Brown who earned one. 

Harvard in the National Polls
Harvard opens 2017 receiving votes in both the FCS Coaches' poll and in the STATS media poll. The Crimson received three points in the FCS Coaches' Poll and 19 points in the STATS media poll.  

Lucky Seven
Harvard has finished with at least seven wins in each of the last 16 years and is the only program in Ivy League history to have such a stretch of success. Nine years ago, Harvard became the first Ivy team with seven such seasons together.  

The current stretch is the Crimson's best 16-year run since a 28-year streak of seven-plus win seasons came to an end in 1911.

The Crimson finished seventh and 15th in the FCS in rushing and scoring defense, respectively, in 2016. The Crimson allowed 98.3 yards rushing per game, including holding Penn to just 21 rushing yards on Nov. 11, 2016. Harvard also held opponents to an average of just 21.0 points per game. 

Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fifth season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.

Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Network or to sign-up today, click here.

What's Next?
Harvard will host Brown in its home opener Sept. 23 at noon on NESN.