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: 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.

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.

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Set To Tangle With Big Red In Ithaca

Cornell/Harvard Logo By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

The Harvard Crimson continued their winning ways last Saturday with a lopsided 41-2 road win over the Georgetown Hoyas.

The Crimson put on a dominating offensive performance, rushing for 177 yards and passing for 280 while limiting the Hoyas to 46 on the ground and 155 in the air.

Harvard’s Justice Shelton-Mosley had a special afternoon against the Hoyas as he amassed 169 total yards in the win at RFK Stadium. Shelton-Mosley’s 91-yard punt return for a touchdown was the longest in Harvard history and (tied Columbia’s Travis Chmelka) as the third-longest in Ivy League history.

Jake Smith got the starting nod at quarterback for the second consecutive week and completed 11-of-21 passes for 139 yards in three quarters of work. Joe Viviano saw limited action in Coach Tim Murphy’s platoon system connecting on 5-of-10 for 66 yards.

The Crimson 2-1 (1-0) will return to Ivy League action on Saturday when they face a potential trap game against Cornell 0-3 (0-1) in Ithaca, NY (1:30 p.m.).

Harvard’s secondary had a strong outing against Georgetown and they will be tested again this week against Cornell.

The Big Red has an outstanding quarterback in junior Dalton Banks who will pose a challenge for the Harvard secondary. Banks passed for 239 yards (22-of-43) in a 21-7 loss to Colgate last week.

However, Banks had four picks and was sacked nine times. Harvard leads the all-time series, 47-32-2, and has won 14 of the last 16 meetings.

The Crimson won last year’s meeting, 29-13, at Harvard Stadium.

Bob’s Prediction: Murphy’s recipe for platooning Smith and Viviano at quarterback is looking better each week. The Big Red will throw an early scare at the Crimson but Harvard should pick up Ivy win No. 2. PREDICTION: Harvard 38, Cornell 17

Next week: Harvard will return home to host Lafayette on Saturday, Oct. 14. The game will be the Crimson’s final non-conference clash of the season.

Around the Ancient Eight: The Ivy League is off to its best non-conference start since 1970 with a 13-3 record in the first three weeks of the 2017 season. Columbia pulled off the upset of the early season when they defeated preseason title favorite Princeton, 28-24. It was the Lions’ first win over the Tigers since 2010 and their first 3-0 (1-0) start since 1996.

Columbia wide receiver Ron Smith caught 10 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, to lead the Lions against the Tigers.

Dartmouth 3-0 (1-0 Ivy) remained unbeaten, as well as winning their Ivy opener, when the Big Green edged Penn 2-1 (0-1) as time expired, 16-13.

Yale 3-0 (1-0) and Dartmouth 3-0 (1-0) will put their unbeaten records on the line when they square off in Hanover, NH on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ESPN3).

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

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

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Stopped By The Rams In Opening Week

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Brown University quarterback Nicholas Duncan and the Bears scored an opening-day win a week ago over Bryant University. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brown University Athletics)

By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

The Ivy League kicked-off its 62nd season with their best season-opening record (6-2) since 2013 last Saturday.

Princeton, the league’s co-favorite, led the way with a 27-17 road win over San Diego.

However, there was one big surprise, as league co-favorite Harvard suffered an upset of sorts at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams, 17-10.

URI quarterback Tyler Harris threw for 235 yards and a touchdown as Rhode Island (1-2) won its first game of the 2017 season (fourth in last three seasons) and first victory over Harvard in five tries.

Cornell was the other Ivy to come up short suffering a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of the Delaware Blue Hens.

This week, the Crimson (0-1, 0-0 Ivy) will face a major emotional challenge as it prepares to face Brown (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) on Saturday at Harvard Stadium. It will be the Ivy League opener for both squads with kick-off set for 12 p.m. (Fans can watch the game on the Ivy League Network (IL) or NESN-Plus).

Brown will enter the contest on a positive note after holding on to defeat Bryant, 28-23, last weekend in Providence.

Bryant dominated play, accumulating nearly 200 yards more total offense than the Bears (and two-to-one time of possession), but fell victim to two costly turnovers.Junior quarterback Nicholas Duncan ran for two touchdowns and threw for 152 yards (14-of-27) and a score to pace the Bears.

Brown’s Scott Boylan returned the opening kick-off 95 yards for a touchdown. Defensively, the Bears received a number of outstanding efforts most noteworthy was senior defensive end Richard Jarvis who had four sacks and eight tackles, which earned him Ivy Defensive Player of the Week honors.

For Harvard to be successful against Brown they will need to finish in the red zone. Quarterback Joe Viviano (17-of-32, 192 yards) had a decent outing against the Rams, but failed to connect for a touchdown.

The Crimson ground game received a solid effort last week from Charlie Booker III (139 yards) and the defense turned in a decent effort, holding the Rams scoreless in the second half.

Harvard’s Tim Murphy, with plenty of talent and experience on both sides of the ball, will be looking for his squad to be more consistent in Week 2.

Bob’s Harvard Prediction: Can Harvard overcome the emotional issues surrounding the serious injury to their team mate? Young men are resilient, particularly football players, but it should be an emotional win. PREDICTION: Harvard 17, Brown 16. 

Next week: Harvard will travel to Georgetown on Sept. 30 (2 p.m.). The game will be played at historic RFK Stadium.

Around the Ancient Eight: The Yale Bulldogs served notice that they are a team to contend with when they clobbered Lehigh 56-28. Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings was named Ivy Offensive Player of the Week when he threw for 308 yards (20-of-26) and four touchdowns. Rawlings certainly is a front-runner for Ivy League MVP … Yale will host Cornell in Week 2. The Big Red committed five first half turnovers in their loss to Delaware … When Harvard and Brown meet tomorrow it will be the 117th meeting between the two schools … Boylan’s 95-yard kickoff return against Bryant last week was the eighth-longest kickoff return in Brown football history.

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

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

Ivy League Football Set To Kick-Off This Weekend

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Ivy League Football returns this weekend with a big match-up looming after the first week between Harvard and Brown at Harvard Stadium. (PHOTO CREDIT: Bleacher Report)

By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob)

The Ivy League does things just a tad different. As opposed to the Power 5 conferences, which enter their third week of play, the Ivies get around to starting their 62th football season with a full slate of games this weekend.

All eyes will be on the Princeton Tigers, which claimed its second title in the past four years in 2016, was picked to finish first in the preseason poll.

Harvard, a dominant force in the league over the past decade (six titles) and still smarting from last year’s upset in THE GAME (21-14) to the Yale Bulldogs, joined Princeton as a preseason favorite.

Penn, Yale and Dartmouth figure to contend for the title with Brown, Columbia and Cornell projected to be real long shots.

Harvard opens its 144th season on Saturday (1 p.m.) at Rhode Island (0-2).

The game with the Rams will be the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools. The Crimson won the first game in 1923 at Harvard Stadium, 35-0, and last year, trounced the Rams, 51-21, at Harvard Stadium.

The Crimson has a number of All-Ivy players returning from last year’s squad 7-3 (5-2 Ivy League) which include defensive stalwarts, Luke Hutton, Raishaun McGhee, DJ Bailey, Jake McIntyre, Tanner Lee, Adam Scott and wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley.

Shelton-Mosley was a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League first team last year, with 48 catches for 568 yards and one touchdown.

Defensively, Hutton and Lee will lead the defensive unit that was among the nation’s best in scoring defense and rushing defense in 2016.

Offensively, the Crimson should be in good shape, with experience at the skilled positions in quarterback Joe Viviano and running back Semar Smith along with Shelton-Mosley.

URI is led by quarterback Tyler Harris who has thrown four touchdown passes in their two losses. Last week, in a 35-18 loss to Stony Brook, Harris was 15-of-32 for 185 yards. Wide receivers Aaron Parker and Marven Beauvais will pose a challenge for the Harvard secondary.

Defensively, D.J. Stewart has been a force with a team-high 22 tackles.

Bob’s Prediction: It is the first game for Harvard, but the offense and Shelton-Mosely should have a field day with an under-performing Ram defense in Kingston, Rhode Island. Harvard 42 – URI 10

Next week: Harvard will host Brown in its home opener on Saturday, September 23 with a noon kickoff. The game will be televised on NESN.

Around the Ancient Eight: In other local Ivy action of note, Brown will open their 140th season on Saturday against Bryant University at Brown Stadium. Former Ivy League Player of the Year James Perry, who led Brown to the Ivy title in 1999, is the first year coach at Bryant.

The Ivy League football teams have fared well on opening day with a 49-39 (.557) record over the past 11 seasons (2005-15).

The NFL opened the season with 20 former Ivy Leaguers on NFL rosters (14 on active rosters).

When Harvard faces URI it will mark the 1,303rd varsity football game. The Crimson’s all-time record is 864-388-50 (.683).

Various Ivy League media outlets utilized to compile this report. 

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