Colton Chapple etched his name in the Harvard record book, and the Crimson defense ruled as the football team crushed Bucknell, 42-3, at the Stadium on Saturday.
Topping off the University’s 375th anniversary weekend, Chapple threw five scoring passes, matching a Harvard record for passing touchdowns set by Carroll Lowenstein ’52 (’54) in 1953.
A junior from Alpharetta, Georgia, who began the season as backup to quarterback Collier Winters ’10 (’12), Chapple also became the first Crimson passer to throw four or more touchdown passes in consecutive games. At Cornell a week earlier, he had passed for 414 yards and four touchdowns.
Receivers Kyle Jusczcyk ’13 and Cameron Brate ’14, the prime targets in Harvard’s difficult-to-defend two-tight-end offense, each caught two of Chapple’s scoring passes. His longest touchdown pass, a 27-yarder, went to wide receiver Alex Sarkisian ’12.
Harvard’s sixth and final score of the game came on a 91-yard kickoff return by freshman Seitu Smith III late in the third period.
The Crimson opened the scoring with a 10-yard pass from Chapple to Jusczcyk on the final play of the first quarter. Harvard tallied three more times in the second quarter and held a 28-0 lead at the half.
A ferocious defensive platoon forced five turnovers, limited the Bucknell ground game to minus-five net yards and just one first down, and registered four quarterback sacks.
Harvard defenders came up with four interceptions, three of them inside the Crimson five-yard line. Cornerback Brian Owusu ’13 snagged the first, running it back 58 yards to set up Chapple’s scoring pass to Sarkisian early in the second period. Defensive reserves Brian Reilly ’13, Norman Hayes ’15, and Chris Splinter ’14 made the other interceptions.
Captain and linebacker Alex Gedeon ’12 was credited with 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback sack, and a fumble recovery.
Chapple watched the last 25 minutes of play from the bench, having completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 176 yards. He was also Harvard’s top ground-gainer, netting 71 yards on 13 touches and scrambling for first downs on five of his carries.
For his work in the Cornell game, Chapple was named Ivy League offensive player of the week; a repeat selection should be a no-brainer. He has thrown for a league-leading 12 touchdowns in the four games he’s started this season, and he sports the league’s highest passing-efficiency rating.
Senior quarterback Collier Winters, the offense’s acknowledged leader, has not seen action since pulling a hamstring muscle in the Holy Cross opener. He’s expected to be ready when Princeton comes to the Stadium next Saturday, posing a dilemma for coach Tim Murphy that other coaches might be more than happy to wrestle with.
Harvard takes on Princeton at 1 p.m. The Tigers shared the Ivy title with Yale in 2006, but have since been mired in the league’s second division, finishing 0-7 a year ago. This year’s team has one Ivy win so far, a 24-21 victory over Columbia. Princeton lost one-sidedly to Bucknell, 34-9, in the second week of the season.
Weekend roundup: Harvard’s next three opponents added more L’s to their won-lost records on Saturday. Princeton (1-4, 1-1 Ivy League) was shut out, 34-0, by Brown (4-1, 1-1); Dartmouth (1-4, 0-2) lost, 25-17, to Holy Cross (3-3); and Columbia (0-5, 0-2) lost, 27-20, to Penn (3-2, 2-0). Last weekend’s opponent, Cornell (2-3, 0-2), lost, 35-28, to nonleague rival Colgate (4-3). In a night game, Yale (3-2, 2-0) was upset, 28-19, by nonleague Lafayette (2-4).
Harvard, Yale, and Penn, still unbeaten in Ivy League play, are tied for first place in the league standings and again seem destined to duke it out on the last two weekends of the season. Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth, with two losses each, are already down for the count.
For the record: Harvard (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) now holds a 5-3-1 edge over Bucknell (4-3, 1-1 Patriot League), in an intermittent series that began in 1955 and was last renewed in 1997. The Bison return to the Stadium next year, but go off the schedule again thereafter.
The Harvard-Bucknell score by quarters:
Bucknell 0 0 3 0
Harvard 7 21 14 0 — 42
The season so far:
Holy Cross 30, Harvard 22
Harvard 24, Brown 7
Harvard 31, Lafayette 3
Harvard 41, Cornell 31
Harvard 42, Bucknell 3