By Matt Noonan
CAMBRIDGE, MA – It’s been roughly one month since No. 24 Harvard took the field in preparations for their Ivy League title defense, and on Saturday the Crimson commenced another season with a 28-13 victory against the University of San Diego.
The win wasn’t exactly the prettiest, as Harvard’s offense only produced points in the second and fourth quarters, while their defense struggled to contain San Diego in the first and third. Harvard’s offense and defense also racked up 119 yards on eight penalties, which didn’t please head coach Tim Murphy.
“There’s no excuse,” exclaimed Murphy. “We talked about it coming in and our style of football is make people beat us, don’t beat yourselves.
“Don’t beat yourselves with turnovers, don’t beat yourselves with metal mistakes, and don’t beat yourselves with penalties. The penalties we had today were completely unnecessary. Sometimes you get an aggressive penalty and today they were completely unnecessary and really put us in a bind on two drives in the first half and we will address it.”
Yet, penalties aside, the Crimson were still able to overcome their mistakes by producing 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, which secured the win.
Quarterback Colton Chapple, who appeared nervous at times, began the final frame with an eight-yard pass to Kyle Juszczyk, which was followed up by two rushing touchdowns during the final six minutes by Treavor Scales (19 carries, 177 yards, 2 TDs).
“There were some definite tangible adjustments [throughout the game],” said Murphy. “Eventually we were able to run the football and we also got a couple breaks on some penalties, so a combinational of those things were the difference.”
San Diego began the contest with a 19 play, 81-yard drive, which didn’t result in six points, but instead an Ernie Collins field goal.
The Crimson answered in the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Chapple to Cameron Brate that provided Harvard with a 7-3 advantage at the break.
Once the second half commenced, Chapple, who completed only one pass on three attempts in the third quarter, fought to move his team up field, but the Crimson’s offense stalled and the Toreros mustered 10 points on back-to-back drives, which gave them their only lead of the contest before Harvard’s offense went to work in the fourth.
“Hats off to Harvard playing a good game when it mattered most,” said San Diego head coach Ron Caragher. “[The] second and fourth quarter I thought they really played solid football.”
* With the win Saturday, Harvard has now won 12 consecutive home openers at Harvard Stadium.
* Harvard is now 59-2 when leading at halftime. That record began in the 2003 season.
* San Diego quarterback Mason Mills completed the game with 354 yards. Harvard has not allowed an opposing quarterback to throw more than 300 yards since 2003.
* The Crimson defense finished the contest with 14 pass breakups and seven sacks.