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Sports

Football: Harvard 53, Brown 27

9.26.15

Having picked off a Bears pass, Asante Gibson headed goalward during the Crimson's second-quarter onslaught. The senior defensive back was around the ball all night, also making three solo tackles and forcing a fumble.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations


Having picked off a Bears pass, Asante Gibson headed goalward during the Crimson's second-quarter onslaught. The senior defensive back was around the ball all night, also making three solo tackles and forcing a fumble.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations

Charging onto the Stadium turf before the game, a trio of seniors—linebacker Jake Lindsey (51), offensive lineman Anthony Fabiano (77) and quarterback Scott Hosch (3)—gave the nearly 16,000 in attendance a first look at the Crimson's new uniforms.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations


Charging onto the Stadium turf before the game, a trio of seniors—linebacker Jake Lindsey (51), offensive lineman Anthony Fabiano (77) and quarterback Scott Hosch (3)—gave the nearly 16,000 in attendance a first look at the Crimson's new uniforms.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations

In his first extended action, Noah Reimers, a freshman from Leesburg, Virginia, gained an impressive 60 yards on eight carries and ripped off two touchdown jaunts.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations


In his first extended action, Noah Reimers, a freshman from Leesburg, Virginia, gained an impressive 60 yards on eight carries and ripped off two touchdown jaunts.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations

Wide receiver Jack Stansell had two receptions for 35 yards. The sophomore from Dothan, Alabama, started the scoring with a 25-yard touchdown catch.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations


Wide receiver Jack Stansell had two receptions for 35 yards. The sophomore from Dothan, Alabama, started the scoring with a 25-yard touchdown catch.
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Athletic Commuincations

Memo to the Brown University football team: When it’s the third quarter, you’re facing a fourth down and 50 yards to go, and you snap the ball out of the end zone for a safety that raises your deficit to 39-0—it might not be your night.

In a game that was not remotely as close as the score might indicate (and that featured a rarity: two safeties), Harvard obliterated the Bears 53-27 on Saturday night at Harvard Stadium. It was the first Ivy League contest in 2015 for both teams; Brown dropped to 0-2 overall. Having beaten Rhode Island 41-10 in the Crimson’s opener on September 19, Harvard thus swept the Ocean State portion of its program. The Crimson’s total was the most points it has scored against the Bears since ’93…1893. (Surely you remember that one: Harvard 58, Brown 0.) The Crimson’s win was its sixteenth straight, a streak second in NCAA Division I only to Ohio State’s 17. The Crimson also went to 10-0 all-time in home night games.

As the score mounted, the e-mails flew, asking, “Is Harvard that good or is Brown that bad?” The answer: A resounding yes. Right now, the Crimson, picked first in the Ivy preseason poll, is a machine, especially against opponents who don’t bring their A game. The discombobulated Bears, picked to finish fifth, were shockingly inept. Right from the get-go they were no match for Harvard, as evidenced by the first-quarter total-offense numbers: Harvard, 130 yards; Brown, five. Afterward, Brown’s veteran coach Phil Estes was openly chagrined. “I have no explanations,” he said. “I’ve never been part of a game like that.” Whereas Harvard’s veteran coach Tim Murphy was happy to have a laugher against a foe that usually plays the Crimson tough: “It was one of those days when we got on a roll.”

Perhaps the Bears were too busy scrutinizing the Crimson’s newly unveiled, Nike-designed home uniforms—black (not crimson) jerseys with crimson numerals and (most jarringly) reddish pants—and wondering if they were playing Texas Tech. Let’s just say the togs are very much in the eye of the beholder and that they might take some getting used to. (Some of us hidebound types still haven’t really adjusted to the switch from leather helmets.)

As has happened so often in the past few seasons, Harvard’s victory had many fathers. Defensive back Asante Gibson ’16 was all over the field, contributing a helmet-rattling tackle on a kickoff, making three solo tackles, and picking off a pass that he returned 29 yards to set up a second-quarter touchdown. Quarterback Scott Hosch ’16 (Ivy League player of the week for his performance against Rhode Island) continued his efficient and on this night turnover-free play, completing 12 for 19 passes and tossing three touchdowns in little more than a half. Running back Paul Stanton Jr. ’16 slammed for 89 yards on 12 carries. The offensive line, anchored by versatile Adam Redmond ’16 (now playing center, his third position) and Cole Toner ’16, continued to keep Hosch untouched and blow open huge holes for Stanton. “We have a lot of fun beating guys up and pushing the pile,” said Toner—eloquence from a government concentrator who last week was named a national semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which honors those who blend academic and gridiron excellence. Finally, for the second straight week, the special teams scored points on a punt block.

Remarkably, there was a time when this game was competitive. After their first series, Harvard and Brown each punted. Then the Crimson got the ball on its 39. Some nifty running by Hosch and Stanton brought the ball down to the Bears 25. From there, Hosch lofted a pass to Jack Stansell ’18, one of a flotilla of Crimson tight ends. Surrounded by Brown defenders, Stansell caught it and ran into the end zone. Placekicker Kenny Smart ’18 converted the extra point. Harvard 7, Brown 0, with less than six minutes gone. (Harvard’s score extended its Ivy record streak of not being shut out to 170 games, dating back to 1998.)

Then came the coup de grâce (yes, this early). On the series after the kickoff, Brown faced a third and eight from its 25. Bears senior quarterback Marcus Fuller dropped back. On Fuller’s blind side, Crimson safety Sean Ahern ’16 streaked in from the edge—untouched. Smashing into Fuller, he jarred the ball loose, and backward. Linebacker Jake Lindsey ’16 scooped it up at the Brown 11 and ran it into the end zone. Smart again converted. Harvard 14, Brown 0. (Lindsey’s score was the first Harvard fumble return for a touchdown since a similar touchdown by Eric Medes ’16 against Holy Cross in 2013.)

A distressing trend became evident: the Bears would start a series with an incomplete pass, then feebly try a run—setting up an almost-always hopeless third-and-long. After one such series near the end of the quarter, Brown’s Grant Senne dropped back to his goal line to punt. The ball was snapped, and Harvard defensive back Zach Miller ’18 charged in and blocked it. To avoid a Crimson touchdown, a Brown player used his foot to dribble it over the end line, which meant safety number one—two points for the Crimson. Harvard 16, Brown 0.

The second quarter was when things really got out of hand. On the first play, on fourth and one from the Brown 29, Stanton burst through the Bears’ line for 22 yards. Two plays later, he went over from the one. Smart again delivered. Harvard 23, Brown 0.

On Brown’s first play after the kickoff, Fuller rolled left, threw—and Gibson made his pick. He took the ball from the Bears 33 to the six, then fumbled—but defensive lineman Denzel Paige ’16 fell on it at the four. On the next play Hosch found receiver Seitu Smith ’16, who skied to grab it at the back of the end zone. Smart again did his job. Harvard 30, Brown 0.

At this point, had there been a mercy rule in college football, it might have been invoked. Estes at least showed mercy to Fuller, pulling him in favor of junior Kyle Moreno, who led the Bears on a drive to the Crimson three. On fourth and goal, he attempted a pass to Alex Jette—which Gibson broke up. Whereupon Hosch took the Crimson back down the field, 97 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 12-yard touchdown toss to Ben Braunecker ’16. (Yep, another tight end.) Smart booted the final point of the half. Harvard 37, Brown 0.

Brown got the ball to start the second half. The Bears moved from their 24 to the Harvard 37. Then, thanks to some stumbles and fumbles, plus a penalty for sideline interference, Brown was back on its 22, facing that fourth and 50. Punter Senne never had a chance as the snap sailed way over his head and out of the end zone. It was safety number two, and two more points: Harvard 39, Brown 0.

Amazingly, it got worse. On Brown’s first play after the kickoff, running back Seth Rosenbauer fumbled. Harvard defensive lineman James Duberg ’16 pounced on the ball at the Harvard 41. Hosch and Stanton were done for the night, replaced by Jimmy Meyer ’16 and Noah Reimers ’19. Meyer zipped a 26-yard pass to Anthony Firkser ’17. (Another tight end.)  A couple of plays later came a 13-yarder to the Brown 16 to wideout Justice Shelton-Mosley ’19. As the Crimson broke the huddle for the next play, Reimers was rubbing his left hamstring. Next thing you knew—ah, there’s the rub!—he was rumbling right up the middle and into the end zone. Smart again put the ball through the uprights. Harvard 46, Brown 0.

How snakebit were the Bears? Moreno finally got them on the board with an 11-yard run. But Duberg blocked Senne’s extra-point try (and why, oh, why were they going for one when behind by 40?). The ball ended up in the hands of Harvard defensive back Jordan Becerra ’16, who took it back 82 yards for an apparent two points—for Harvard. But the score was wiped out by a Crimson penalty and the whole exciting thing was ruled no play. Still, very telling. Harvard 46, Brown 6.

The final Harvard touchdown came after Brown muffed a punt. Crimson linebacker Luke Hutton ’18 recovered on the Brown 27. On the next play Reimers barreled into the end zone. One more time, Smart booted. Harvard 53, Brown 6. There were still 20 minutes to play.

In the remaining time, playing mostly against the Crimson’s substitute defenders, Moreno led the Bears to three touchdowns, so it looked better than it was. Brown finished with 361 total yards to Harvard’s 434.

Two games, two convincing wins. And yet…is it the quality of the Crimson or the lack of quality of its opponents? The jury remains out.

  

WEEKEND ROUNDUP

Georgetown 24, Columbia 16
Yale 33, Cornell 26
Princeton 52, Lehigh 26
Dartmouth 49, Sacred Heart 7
Penn 24, Villanova 13

  

Coming up: Next Friday, Harvard plays Georgetown at the Stadium. Kickoff: 7 p.m. (The game will be streamed on ESPN3 and the Ivy League Digital Network.) A member of the Patriot League, Georgetown is 2-2 and 1-1 in road games. Harvard won the only other meeting between the schools, last year in Washington, D.C., 34-3.

 

 

The Score By Quarters

Brown001314  27
Harvard1621160  53

Attendance: 15,804

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