Friday Night Round-Up: Harvard Edges MIT Basketball, Westfield State Upends Western Conn. in Season Finale

Bradley Jomard (MIT)
Bradley Jomard paced the Engineers in an exhibition setback against Harvard University. (PHOTO CREDI: MIT Athletics)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

Harvard’s Seth Towns netted a game-high 20 points, while Chris Lewis recorded a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Crimson defeated MIT, 73-64, in their season-opener on Friday evening at Lavietes Pavilion.

MIT, which was led by Bradley Jomard (17 points, six rebounds), trailed Harvard, 39-32, at the break, but used an 11-2 run minutes into the second half to pull within two-points (49-47) of the hosts with 11:02 remaining.

Harvard (1-0) counted with a six-point spurt, highlighted by a Rio Haskett jumper with 8:52 remaining to secure a 55-49 lead, but MIT clawed back, thanks to a pair of free throws from Nacho Nwana and a layup from Jomard to bring the visitors within four-points (57-53).

The Crimson would respond again with a pair of dunks, including one down the middle by Lewis, which provided the hosts with enough momentum to secure their initial win of the season.

MIT did close the gap late in the session with a pair of freebies from Ian Hinkley with 1:33 remaining, but Harvard dashed the Engineers’ comeback hopes with two free throws from Towns, along with a trifecta from Bryce Aiken.

Harvard concluded the game 21 of 51 from the floor, including 5 of 18 from beyond the arc. The Crimson also connected on 26 of 36 free-throws, too. MIT was 22 of 54 from the floor, but converted just 13 of 21 free-throw attempts.

Hinkley and Hamilton Forsythe each concluded the contest with 13 points apiece, while  Nwana added eight points, seven rebounds, three swipes and one assist off the bench.

The Crimson return to action Sunday, November 12 when they host UMass at 2 p.m., while the Engineers will officially begin their 2017-18 campaign next Wednesday, November 15 when they host Bridgewater State for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

Westfield State capped its 2017 football season with a convincing 17-0 win over Western Connecticut at Alumni Field.

Travon Holder, who led all rushers with 187 yards on 38 carries, rushed for a pair of touchdowns, while Jake Cassidy rushed for another score, along with 53 yards on 14 carries.

On defense, Tyler Robbins highlighted the Owls’ effort with four total tackles, two interceptions, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery.

Western Connecticut quarterback Quinn Fleeting finished the game 11 of 21 for 107 yards.

Cassidy scored the game’s initial touchdown with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter before Holder located the end zone twice in the second quarter.

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Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Keeps Title Hopes Alive

496202By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

They were on the brink of elimination but Coach Tim Murphy’s Crimson football team, along with a superb relief effort from quarterback Joe Viviano, kept their 2017 Ivy League title hopes alive with their second consecutive come-from-behind victory.

Last week the Crimson defeated the Columbia Lions for the 14th consecutive time, 21-14, in the Bronx.

The Crimson 5-3 (4-2) dramatic triumph over the Lions 6-2 (3-2) sets up another important showdown on Saturday, November 11th against the Penn Quakers 4-4 (2-3) at Harvard Stadium.

Murphy made a call to his bullpen and Viviano, who came off the bench in the second quarter and went 6-for-12 (120 yards), while connecting on a pair of touchdowns and rushing for one to lead the Crimson comeback.

Viviano and Henry Taylor hooked-up on a 65-yard TD pass in the second quarter and followed that up with a 1-yard keeper to give the Crimson a 14-7 lead at the half.

Harvard added an insurance tally to make it 21-7 in the third quarter when Viviano found Jake Barann on 2-yard TD toss.

It was a bitter loss for Coach Al Bagnoli’s Lions who had a chance with a win to control their own destiny in the Ivy League title chase. Now the Lions need help to remain in the hunt and face possible elimination in this week’s contest at Cornell.

Penn invades Harvard Stadium this week in a spoiler roll after a stunning 38-35 victory over Princeton 5-3 (2-3) at Franklin Field last week.

Abe Willows rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Tre Solomon added 116 yards on the ground as Penn accumulated 531 total yards of offense in the victory which put a damper on Princeton’s title hopes.

Saturday’s contest will mark the 88th meeting between the Ivy rivals, with the Crimson leading the series, 48-37-2. Last season, the Quakers prevailed 27-14 at Franklin Field.

The kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. and will be broadcast on NESN Plus and the Ivy League Network. Alex Vispoli and Eric Gallanty will have the call.

Bob’s Prediction: With weather expected to be cold and very windy the Crimson must control the line of scrimmage or the Quakers could spoil Harvard’s title bid. All signs point to New Haven and THE GAME! Harvard 14, Penn 7 

Next week: It’s the Yale Bowl, November 18 for a 12:30 kickoff (CNBC).

Around the Ancient Eight: Yale 7-1 (4-1 Ivy League) is in sole possession of first place and has total control of their Ivy League title hopes entering the final two weeks of the season. The Bulldogs will travel to face pre-season favorite Princeton on Saturday and with a win will have a chance to capture the title outright against Harvard in THE GAME.

Dartmouth 6-2 (3-2) will look to keep their title hopes alive when they face Brown 2-6 (0-5) this evening, Friday, November 10th at Fenway Park while Columbia 6-2 (3-2) is in Ithaca Saturday afternoon against Cornell 3-5 (3-2).

Harvard’s Tim Murphy registered his 200th coaching win (168 at Harvard) in the Crimson’s 21-14 victory over Columbia.

Harvard’s defensive tackle Richie Ryan was named Ivy Defensive Player of the Week for his monster game in the win over Columbia. Ryan had 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble to lead the Crimson defensive unit.

Penn’s senior wide receiver Justin Watson broke the Quaker record for career receptions (265) and tied the Ivy record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception (8) in last week’s win over Princeton. Watson was named Ivy Offensive Player of the Week.

Hopefully, Harvard and Yale will prevail this weekend to setup plenty of Ivy League drama in THE GAME at the Yale Bowl next Saturday, November 18th (12:30 p.m. CNBC).

Follow Bob for all the Yale football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

(Compiled from various Ivy League media outlets)

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Keeps Title Hopes Alive, Set To Face Columbia

496202By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

Harvard kept their 2017 Ivy League title hopes alive with a come-from-behind 25-22 win over Dartmouth at Harvard Stadium last Saturday.

The Crimson’s win set up an important showdown  in New York on Saturday against Coach Al Bagnoli’s Columbia Lions 6-1 (3-1), who fell from the ranks of the unbeaten at the hands of Yale, 23-6.

Yale, Columbia and Cornell rest at the top of the Ivy standings with 3-1 records while the Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth remain in hot pursuit with two losses.

The Crimson rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat the Big Green 5-2 (2-2) behind the play of freshman quarterback Jake Smith. Smith was 18-for-35 for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Smith also rushed for 64 yards.

Smith’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Shampklin with 7:21 left in regulation sealed the win.

Meanwhile Bagnoli’s surprising Lions suffered their first loss of the season, courtesy of a dominating performance by a Yale defense.

Yale’s defense was the story as they recorded four sacks and two interceptions in limiting the Lions to just 206 yards of total offense and just one touchdown (1-yard run by quarterback Anders Hill).

Saturday’s contest will be the 76th meeting between the Crimson and Lions. Harvard holds a 60-14-1 lead in the series. The Crimson has won the last 13 games between the two schools. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Bob’s Prediction: The Crimson will make it 14 in a row over the Lions and stay alive in the title chase. All signs point to THE GAME! PREDICTION: Harvard, 21, Columbia 17

Next week: Penn invades Harvard Stadium, Saturday, November 11 for a 12 p.m. kickoff (NESN).

Around the Ancient Eight: It’s crunch time in the Ivy League this weekend with three huge contests, in addition to the Harvard/Columbia clash. Yale 6-1 (3-1) hosts Brown 2-5 (0-4), Princeton 5-2 (2-2) is at Penn 3-4 (1-3) while Dartmouth 5-2 (2-2) travels to Ithaca to face Cornell 3-4 (3-1). There are six teams in the hunt for the title with just three weeks remaining in the schedule.

Harvard’s all-purpose back, Justice Shelton-Mosley, leads the nation in punt returns for touchdowns (two) and punt return average (23.1).

Yale’s freshman running back, Zane Dudek, is having quite an inaugural season for the Bulldogs. Last week in the Bulldogs huge 23-6 win over previously unbeaten Columbia Dudek rushed a season-best 173-yards. The effort earned the first-year phenom National Rookie of the Week as well as offensive player and co-rookie of the week in the Ivy League.

Dudek, who ranks second among all Football Championship Subdivision ball carriers (8.4 yards per attempt), was placed on the FCS Jerry Rice Award Watch List. He has been Ivy Rookie of the Week three times while having four games where he rushed for over 100 yards.

Yale’s senior linebacker standout Matthew Oplinger leads the FCS averaging better than one per game and has 9.5 on the year.

Dartmouth’s upcoming matchup with Brown on Friday, November 10, will be held in historic Fenway Park.

Looking way ahead to a game that is looking more and more like it will determine the Ivy League football champion, Yale will host Harvard in THE GAME on Nov. 18.

Follow Bob for all the Yale football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

(Compiled from various Ivy League media outlets)

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Looks To Keep Title Hopes Alive Against Dartmouth

496202By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

Harvard’s bid to remain in the 2017 Ivy League title hunt will hinge on a win when they host Buddy Teeven’s Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday at Harvard Stadium.

Last week Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff had a day for the record books as he completed all 20 of his first-half passes and finished 31-of-35 for an astounding 88.6 completion percentage as the Tigers overwhelmed Harvard 52-17.

Kanoff completed his first 21 passes and finished just shy of the FCS single-game completion percentage record of 88.9. Kanoff totaled 421 yards, eighth-best in Princeton history, and moved from 21st to 15th on the all-time Ivy League passing list.

The Tigers racked up 573 yards of total offense in the win.

There were a few highlights for the Crimson as freshman quarterback Jake Smith passed for his season-best 268 yards and running back Charlie Booker III rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown. Luke Hutton led the Crimson defense with 10 tackles.

The Big Green enters Harvard Stadium after a 22-17 loss in last week’s showdown with the Columbia Lions.

The Crimson defense will face another talented Ivy quarterback in Dartmouth’s Jack Heneghan who passed for 331 yards (21-of-36, TD) against Columbia. Hunter Hagdorn, was Heneghan’s favorite target as he had eight catches for 100 yards.

Eric Meile led the Big Green defensive effort with a game-high 16 tackles.

Saturday’s game will be the 121st all-time meeting between Harvard and Dartmouth, with the first game having taken place back in 1882. Harvard leads the all-time series 70-45-5 and has won 13-straight games over the Big Green.

Bob’s Prediction: Harvard has proven their ability to bounce back after a disappointing loss this season, so this week is no exception. PREDICTION: Harvard 28, Dartmouth 17

Next week: Columbia will invade Harvard Stadium on Nov. 4 (1 p.m. ILN/SNY).

Around the Ancient Eight: The other big game this weekend is in the Yale Bowl when Yale 5-1 (2-1) hosts Coach Al Bagnoli’s surprising Columbia Lions 6-0 (3-0) on Saturday (SNY/ILN).

Yale, which is coming off a huge 24-19 comeback win at Penn (Elis first at Franklin Field since 2007) last week, will be looking to break the Lions bubble.

A win by Columbia this week would give the Lions not only their first 4-0 start in Ivy League play, but also their third 7-0 start in program history and first since 1932. Columbia’s seven-game win streak, dating back to last season, is the longest since 1934-35. Another win would match the Lions’ longest winning streak, previously set twice, most recently from 1933-34.

Bagnoli’s Lions were picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls. Columbia will be looking to continue their best start since 1996.

With identical 2-1 Ivy records Cornell and Princeton will look to remain in the title chase when they square off on Saturday night in Princeton, NJ (7 p.m. NBCSN).

The Crimson’s Justice Shelton-Mosley leads the nation in punt returns for touchdowns (two) and return average (21.5). Shelton-Mosley is also 26th in kickoff returns (24.6).

Yale’s freshman running back Zane Dudek has been named to the Rice Award Watch List.

Dartmouth’s upcoming matchup with Brown on Friday, Nov. 10, will be held in historic Fenway Park.

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.

Ivy League Football Notebook: It’s Crunch Time For Harvard, Princeton

496202By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

It is crunch time in the Ivy League and over the next month teams will battle for a chance to be crowned 2017 Ivy football champions.

Harvard and Princeton, preseason picks to finish at the top of the Ivy heap, will kick off the weekend with a clash under the lights this evening at Harvard Stadium.

Both squads have one loss in the league and it is one of those games that can be filed as “must have.”

Harvard 3-2 (1-1 Ivy) prepped for the Tigers with a solid 38-10 non-league victory over Lafayette which featured a breakout effort by Crimson running back Charles Booker III (159 yards, 1 TD).

Harvard’s All-Ivy performer Justice Shelton-Moseley returned a punt 85 yards to open the scoring. Shelton-Moseley’s performance earned him Ivy Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.

The Crimson defense turned in a stellar effort, limiting the Leopards to just 12 rushing yards.

Freshman quarterback Jake Smith looked sharp and is improving with each snap.

The Harvard offense, defense and special teams look ready to face Princeton 4-1 (1-1) who tuned-up for the big showdown with a 53-0 victory at Brown.

Tiger running back Charlie Volker scored 4 touchdowns, including a 96-yard run which set a new school record.

The Tigers offense netted 538 total yards in the one-sided contest while the defense limited Brown to 170.

Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff was very efficient as he completed 21-of-27 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side, the Tigers are firing on all eight cylinders which should make for an exciting evening of football.

The game will be nationally-televised on the NBC Sports Network starting at 7:30 p.m.

Bob’s Prediction: Both teams are ready with the home team getting the edge in this one – it should be an Ivy League Classic! Harvard 24, Princeton 23

Next week: Dartmouth will invade Harvard Stadium on Oct. 28 (12 p.m. NESN).

Around the Ancient Eight: The other big game this weekend pits a battle of the unbeaten when Dartmouth 5-0 (2-0) hosts Coach Al Bagnoli’s surprising Columbia Lions 5-0 (2-0) on Saturday (Eleven Sports, ILN).

Bagnoli’s Lions were picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll. Columbia will look to continue their best start since 1996.

The Ivy League registered its best non-conference record since 1994, finishing 18-6 in out-of-conference play in 2017.

Princeton’s Volker 96-yard touchdown run from scrimmage broke a 65-year record for the longest rushing score in Tiger history; the previous record was a 93-yard touchdown by Homer Smith, set against Yale on Nov. 15, 1952.

Friday night’s game in Cambridge will be the first Ivy League road night contest ever for Princeton.

Dartmouth’s upcoming matchup with Brown on Friday, Nov. 10, will be held in historic Fenway Park.

The Ivy League published results of their experimental kickoff rule, which has produced tangible results, including a significant drop in injuries and concussions throughout the 2016 season. After averaging six concussions per year during the Ivy League conference slate the previous three seasons, athletes suffered zero concussions on kickoff plays in 2016.

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.

Harvard, Yale Highlight Ivy League Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll

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Harvard’s Bryce Aiken will be one of many players to watch on the Crimson this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Globe)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The Harvard men’s basketball team was chosen to finish first in the Ivy League this winter, according to yesterday’s release.

Harvard, which collected six first-place votes, edged Yale by two points – the Bulldogs earned eight first-place votes, while tallying 118 points.

Princeton University, which is projected to finish third, garnered a trio of first-place votes for 114 points, while Penn and Columbia rounded out the top five.

Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown were projected to finish sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Harvard welcomes back a quartet of its leading scorers from a year ago, including sophomore Bryce Aiken, who was tabbed the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season.

Aiken, a first-team All-Conference selection, paced the Crimson with 14.5 points per game last season, while tallying a career and season-best 28 points against Yale. As noted in his player bio, Aiken became the second first-year since Siyani Chambers to earn first team All-Ivy League honors.

Yale will certainly be a team to watch this season and should receive a boost from senior Makai Mason, who has been selected as the Ivy League preseason player of the year, per various outlets, including NBCSports.com.

Mason earned first-team All-Conference honors during his sophomore season (2015-16) – he became the fourth sophomore in program history to earn a spot on the conference’s first-team.

Against Baylor in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Mason netted a career and game-high 31 points, including 11 free throws to lift the Bulldogs to an exciting first round win.

Both teams will commence their respective 2017-18 campaigns on Friday, November 10 with Harvard hosting MIT and Yale facing Creighton at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Looks To Regroup Against Lafayette

Harvard Crimson Logo By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

It was a game that Harvard should have come back to Cambridge with a victory.

But Dave Archer’s Big Red had other ideas about the final outcome and walked off Schoellkopf Field with a well-deserved 17-14 upset over the Crimson.

Cornell, which had suffered through three dismal and turnover-plagued losses, committed just a single turnover while grinding out 233 yards on the ground to stun the Crimson.

Cornell’s strategy to focus on the rush paid off handsomely as the Big Red dominated time of possession (36:50 vs 23:10) which kept the Crimson offense off the field.

Chris Walker led the Cornell 1-3 (1-1 Ivy) ground attack with 93 yards on 19 carries.

Walker was joined by fellow running backs Harold Coles (68 yards) and Jack Gellatly (49 yards) in an impressive display of ground-and-pound football.

Meanwhile, Harvard’s offense sputtered, rushing for just 62 yards, while adding 162 through the air.

The loss left the highly-favored Crimson with a 2-2 record (1-1) and facing a non-league home game this week against Lafayette (2-4), in another of those games Harvard should put in the win column.

Saturday’s game, the 700th game in Harvard football history, will be the 20th all-time meeting between Harvard and Lafayette.

History is one Harvard’s side as they lead the series, 16-3. Harvard has won five-straight against Lafayette, and is 9-2 all-time against the Leopards in Cambridge.

The Leopards enter the contest with some momentum after last week’s come-from-behind, 14-10, win over Fordham.

The Crimson will have to deal with a passing threat in quarterback Sean O’Malley who passed for 256 passing yards and two TDs in the win over Fordham.

O’Malley has a favorite target in wide receiver Rocco Palumbo who had nine catches for 129 yards.

It will be interesting to see who Harvard will feature at quarterback as freshman Jake Smith was 8-of-14 against Cornell. Murphy had been rotating Smith and senior Joe Viviano, but Viviano did not appear in the stat sheet against Cornell.

Bob’s Prediction: It’s one of those less important non-league affairs, but the Crimson need to bounce back and gain some consistency. You can bet that the Crimson defense will be focused on stopping the Leopards ground attack. Prediction: Harvard 31, Lafayette 10 

Next week: The preseason favorites, Princeton and Harvard, will get after it on Friday, Oct. 20 under the lights at Harvard Stadium (7:30 p.m. NBCSN).

Around the Ancient Eight (Notes): The Ivy League is off to its best non-conference start since 1970 with a 15-5 record in out-of-conference play in 2017.

This week the Ivy League features a pair of matchups all critical to the teams who expect to remain in the hunt for a title.

Brown 2-2 (0-1) hosts Princeton 3-1 (0-1), which can be viewed on the Ivy League Network (ILN), while former Penn head coach Al Bagnoli leads surprising Columbia 4-0 (1-0) in to a potential trap game against the Penn Quakers 2-2 (0-1) on Eleven Sports and ILN.

Columbia might be guilty of looking ahead to next week’s contest with Dartmouth.

Bagnoli’s Lions were picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls.

Yale’s dynamic running back combo of Deshawn Salter and Zane Dudek have accounted for 12 of Yale’s 14 rushing TDs this season.

Dartmouth’s quarterback, Jack Heneghan, Ivy Offensive Player of the Week, has kept things all in the Ivy family. Father Lal was an All-Ivy tight end at Penn in 1984. He helped the Quakers to three Ivy League titles in his career.

Penn senior Justin Watson ranks sixth in Ivy League history in both receptions (232) and receiving yards (3,083). He is the sixth Ivy to surpass 3,000 yards and the first since 2002, when Carl Morris (Harvard), Rob Milanese (Penn) and Chas Gessner (Brown) accomplished the feat. Watson, who has caught at least one pass in 34-straight games, needs just one reception in each of his remaining six games to set a new Ivy League record for consecutive games with a catch.

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.