There should have been a sense of deja vù for Harvard followers through the 138th enjoying of The Sport.
Trailing by 5 late within the fourth quarter, Harvard had an opportunity to stage a repeat of the miraculous late-game comeback that lifted it previous the Bulldogs in New Haven final November. After forcing a Yale punt, Harvard bought the ball again with 42 seconds to go, needing to go 75 yards to the top zone with no timeouts to win the sport. The Crimson hoped for a rerun of last year’s final sequence, when Harvard required 66 yards in 59 seconds.
However this yr, there was no miracle within the making.
The Crimson failed to succeed in the top zone as senior quarterback Charlie Dean airmailed his fourth interception of the competition, permitting the Bulldogs to seize a 19-14 victory and the Ivy League title within the first iteration of The Sport at Harvard Stadium since 2016.
After a 17-yard completion on a crossing sample to sophomore broad receiver Scott Woods II to open Harvard’s last drive, any similarities between this yr’s last possession and final yr’s evaporated. Underneath heavy strain and on the precipice of taking a game-ending sack, Dean flung the ball into the air in desperation. However there have been no Harvard receivers round, and the soccer floated as an alternative into the arms of Yale linebacker Hamilton Moore for his second interception of the sport.
“We’re actually assured in our protection,” Yale head coach Tony Reno stated. “We work on conditions on a regular basis, and our protection has actually grown over the course of the season, and been excellent in these conditions.”
With temperatures within the low 40s, cloudless skies, a sellout crowd at Harvard Stadium, and two groups vying for a convention championship, the circumstances appeared good for an unforgettable battle in Boston.
However the groups’ offenses have been removed from good. Dean tossed 4 interceptions and Yale signal-caller Nolan Grooms threw for simply 144 yards. In the long run, Dean’s aerial ineptitude price his staff the sport.
Yale’s victory — mixed with a 20-19 Penn win over Princeton — gave the Bulldogs sole possession of the Ivy League crown. The convention title is Yale’s seventeenth all-time, which ties with Harvard for the third most, behind Dartmouth (20) and the Quakers (18).
Each groups have been unfastened with the soccer early. Grooms fumbled on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage, permitting the Crimson to get the ball again on the Yale 30. However Harvard was unable to capitalize, and two drives later Dean threw the primary of his interceptions, a tipped ball over the center that Moore snagged in the long run zone to finish Harvard’s first crimson zone alternative. The interception was Dean’s fourth of the season and his first for the reason that Crimson’s 21-20 loss to Columbia Nov. 6. After defending the ball effectively all season, the senior signal-caller went on to greater than double his season complete for picks, because the Yale protection constantly delivered strain and Dean was fazed.
Early on, the sport was dominated by the groups’ punters, Crimson sophomore Sebastian Tasko and the Bulldogs’ Jack Bosman, who have been saved busy by offenses that struggled to string collectively momentum. Of the primary seven drives, 4 have been punts, two of which have been booted by Tasko. The opposite Harvard boot was the rarely-seen pooch punt, courtesy of Dean.
Following Grooms’ fumble, head coach Tim Murphy opted to ship his offense out on fourth and 6 from the Yale 26, making an attempt to attract the Bulldogs offsides. However junior tight finish Tyler Neville was known as for a false begin, knocking the Crimson out of discipline purpose vary and staking it to fourth and 11. Murphy responded by sending the offense proper again out, however Dean took the snap after which snapped off a rainbow punt that was downed on the six-yard line.
The guests bought on the board first on a nine-play, 65-yard drive during which Yale demonstrated why it was the top rushing offense within the Ivy League, gaining 46 yards on the bottom. The dagger play was Grooms’ 21-yard third and 6 carry, during which he discovered a gaping gap on the proper facet of the Harvard protection and beat a number of Crimson defenders to the sideline. The southpaw entered the competition because the Ivy League’s second-leading rusher, behind solely Harvard senior again Aidan Borguet. Then, a couple of performs later, the Robin to his Batman — operating again Tre Peterson — punched it in from one yard away to offer Yale the primary lead of the competition.
“He offered a novel risk in his potential to flee the pocket,” senior defensive lineman and captain Truman Jones stated of Grooms.
Total, the run-heavy Bulldogs offense ran roughshod over Harvard’s usually stout defensive entrance. Though the Crimson has beforehand excelled towards opposing operating backs with its robust defensive position, dual-threat quarterbacks like Grooms have usually posed issues. It has beforehand been burned by Holy Cross’ Matthew Sluka, Cornell’s Jameson Wang, and Princeton’s Blake Stenstrom, and Saturday was no exception. On his 15 carries, Grooms picked up 63 yards, totally on scrambles alongside the left sideline. However Harvard struggled towards Yale’s operating backs, too, permitting Peterson and change-of-pace again Joshua Pitsenberger to rack up a mixed 137 yards.
Against this, the Crimson struggled to get its operating sport going. Borguet, Harvard’s offensive star, was held to 62 yards on 18 carries and saved out of the top zone for simply the third time this season. The Crimson particularly struggled on inside runs, which have been Borguet’s specialty as a ground-and-pound ball provider throughout his profession at Harvard. Borguet’s 1,182 speeding yards through the 2022 marketing campaign are the fifth most in Harvard historical past, 120 behind the varsity’s single-season speeding file, held by Clifton Dawson ’07.
With Borguet largely neutralized and the offense’s most dynamic wideout, senior Kym Wimberly, out with an arm harm that he suffered within the Crimson’s victory over Penn final week, Harvard’s two touchdowns got here from sophomore wideout Scott Woods II and Neville. The 64-yard catch-and-run was Woods’ second landing of the season, after snagging one within the 35-28 victory over Cornell on Oct. 7. The five-foot-eight speedster, who is understood for his shiftiness in returning punts, caught the display screen cross from Dean on the line of scrimmage, burst by means of a gap within the protection, and noticed nothing however inexperienced forward of him.
Neville’s landing, which got here 90 seconds into the fourth quarter and gave Harvard its solely lead of the sport, was his fourth of the season. Neville, who was a hero within the Crimson’s dramatic victory in 2021, broke out this season through the conflict in Ithaca, N.Y., when he reeled in three catches and the primary rating of his profession. On his scoring catch on Saturday, the six-foot-four tight finish from Williamsburg, Va., bought behind the protection, incomes a minimum of 5 yards of separation and ready for Dean’s cross to land in his arms, upon which he waltzed into the top zone. Though the ball was barely underthrown, it was nonetheless adequate for the landing, giving Harvard followers some fleeting hope.
But it surely was to not be, as a result of as open as Neville was on his landing, Yale tight finish Jackson Hawes may need gotten much more separation on his go-ahead catch with six minutes, 29 seconds left within the sport. After a sluggish, methodical drive introduced the Bulldogs into the crimson zone, the Crimson managed to get strain on Grooms on second and 9 from the Harvard 16, however the quarterback slithered out of the pocket and saved his eyes downfield, ultimately lobbing it quick to Hawes, who took it for 11 yards for an inconceivable first down. Then, after Pitsenberger bought stuffed for no acquire, Grooms once more purchased time within the pocket, permitting Hawes to shake his defender and make a sprawling catch, crashing to the turf along with his staff out of the blue up by 5. Though Grooms practically bought sacked on the following two-point conversion try, the momentum had shifted.
The seven-minute, seven-second drive was indicative of a bigger development: Reno’s potential to manage the clock and hold his protection off the sector. Total, the Bulldogs dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 40 minutes, 27 seconds all through the competition. Persevering with a season-long development of late-down struggles, Harvard transformed simply two of its 12 third-down alternatives and allowed Yale to earn a contemporary set of downs on greater than a 3rd of its tries. Due to its poor efficiency on third down, defensive coordinator Scott Larkee ’99’s unit was on the sector for longer than in every other sport this season.
With the victory, Yale prolonged its lead within the collection to 69-61-8 and earned its twenty eighth win since The Sport grew to become an official Ivy League competitors in 1956. It was additionally the Bulldogs’ fifth win for the reason that flip of the century and their ninth over Murphy, who fell simply wanting reaching his tenth Ivy League title. Previous to 2015, his earlier longest title drought was 4 years — from 1997 to 2001 — however now the streak will prolong to a minimum of eight.
Saturday’s loss marked the ultimate sport for a powerful class of graduating seniors, who every made a big impression for Harvard over their 4 tumultuous years on campus. This yr’s cohort, which incorporates stars similar to Borguet, Wimberly, and Jones, spearheaded a profitable revitalization of the soccer program after its solely dropping file of the twenty first century in 2019 and the cancellation of the 2020 season because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the previous two seasons, the Crimson has gone 15-5 regardless of beginning three totally different quarterbacks over the 20 video games.
“It’s a brotherhood that has been shaped this yr,” Borguet stated. “The blokes fought. They fought to the very finish, all the season. That’s a tradition factor. That’s a staff factor. And that’s one thing that lives on from staff to staff.”
The captain concurred.
“The character of the staff actually developed to the spirit of Harvard soccer,” Jones stated. “I keep in mind my freshman yr, simply seeing the caliber of men and the way bought-in and invested they have been to this staff. There’s been ebbs and flows to that, however I really feel prefer it’s returning to that very same degree of everybody actually shopping for into this program.”
—Workers author Jack Silvers will be reached at email@example.com. Comply with him on Twitter @JackSilvers5.
—Workers author Griffin Wong will be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comply with him on Twitter @Wong_THC.
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