Three Blocked Punts Help Football Past Howard, 62-17

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard football used three blocked punts in the first half en route to a commanding victory Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium over Howard, 62-17. The Crimson now sits at 2-1 on the season, and remains at 1-0 in the Ivy League, while Howard falls to 1-5 overall.

First-year Khalil Dawsey stopped the Bison's first punt attempt, marking the first blocked punt for the Crimson since a 25-22 victory over Dartmouth on Oct. 28, 2017. Sophomore DeMarkes Stradford picked up Harvard's second blocked punt, and recovered in the end-zone for a touchdown. Stradford's punt block return for a touchdown was the Crimson's first since 2015. Later Dawsey grabbed his second-career block and Harvard's third of the game. The three blocks were just one shy of the FCS single game record, accomplished most recently in 1988. 

Junior Devin Darrington got the Crimson on the scoreboard after Dawsey's blocked punt, the first of a career-high three rushing touchdowns for the Forest Hill, Md. native. Darrington's performance marks Harvard's first matchup with a three-touchdown rusher since Aaron Shampklin accomplished the feat vs. San Diego in last season's opener. Darrington added 115 yards on the ground, his first career 100-yard day. In addition to his two blocked punts, Stradford also had 108 rushing yards, which marks the first time Harvard has had a pair of 100-yard rusher in a home game since 2011.

Later in the first half, an eight-yard touchdown scamper from first-year Aidan Borguet gave the Crimson a 34-3 advantage, and junior B.J. Watson caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Smith to give Harvard a 41-3 lead heading into the break. Harvard scored 34 second quarter points, the most in a single quarter since 2012 when the Crimson scored 35 in the second quarter vs. Columbia.   

Coming out of the intermission, Stradford broke free for two touchdown rushes of 33 yards and 59 yards, respectively. That 59-yard dash is Harvard's longest rush of the season and third longest play from scrimmage. A Howard touchdown brought the margin to 55-10, but Harvard added another score from sophomore Daniel Abraham on the first play of the fourth quarter to bring the score to 62-10. The Bison put up a late touchdown to bring the final tally to 62-17.

Harvard Highlights

  • Harvard had its first blocked punt in nearly two seasons and its first punt block returned for a touchdown since 2015.
  • The Crimson had two 100-yard rushers in a home game for the first time since its 2011 matchup vs. Dartmouth.
  • Sophomore defensive linemen Truman Jones picked up a career-best three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss against the Bison.

Game Notes

  • With the win, Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, moved to just three wins shy of the all-time record for overall wins by an Ivy League coach.
  • Since the start of the second half at San Diego, the Crimson has outscored its opponents 127-31, including one span of 83-3 between the Brown and Howard matchups.
  • Senior place-kicker Jake McIntyre picked up eight PATs in the contest, bringing the total in his Crimson career 93. McIntyre jumped from fourth to second in the Harvard record books for most total PATs made. The statistics concentrator also moved to 186 total points scored, now the second most all-time amongst Harvard kickers. 

What's Next
Harvard will conclude its three-game homestand next Saturday afternoon when it welcomes Ivy League foe Cornell to Harvard Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and the matchup can be seen on ESPN+.