NEW HAVEN, Conn.--It's official. Harvard is the best team in the Ivy League. You can say that after you've beaten everybody else in your league.
Harvard (9-1, 7-0 Ivy) never completely dominated Yale (1-9, 0-7) in its 17-7 win, but the talent gap between Harvard's defense and Yale's offense was so apparent that the conclusion was never really in doubt.
That doesn't mean Yale didn't make it interesting at the end. The Elis scored a touchdown with 10:36 left in the game to close Harvard's lead to 17-7. They then stopped the Crimson at their own 20-yard line on fourth-and-two.
With momentum seemingly swinging to the Elis, Yale drove 61 yards to the Harvard 19-yard line as sophomore quarterback Joe Walland completed five-of-seven attempts and scrambled for another seven yards. However, the Crimson defense showed the character which has made it the cornerstone of this championship team.
On first down, Walland overthrew sophomore receiver Jake Borden. Senior safety Jeff Compas provided tight coverage on the next pass attempt--another incompletion to Borden.
Harvard's defensive line registered its seventh sack of the day on third down, as senior tackle Jason Hughes threw down Walland for a loss of seven yards.
On Yale's last play, Compas once again defended on a pass attempt to Borden.
"We had a lot of opportunities in that game," said Yale Coach Jack Siedlecki. "We got ourselves in positions where we had a chance."
Harvard took over with 54 seconds left in its perfect 7-0 Ivy campaign and kneeled down twice to preserve its first nine-win season since 1919.
Harvard had sprinted off to a quick start, as a personal foul on Yale made a kickoff return to the Harvard 41-yard line become first-and-ten at the Bulldogs' 44-yard line.
On the second play, sophomore Chris Menick ran right for three yards to give him Harvard's single-season rushing record for good, and he capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
"Menick's got the intangibles," Siedlecki said. "He isn't the fastest back in the league, he isn't the shiftiest back in the league, but he's the best back in the league."
"I had a great time," Menick said. "Today was the culmination not only of the season but also of all the hard work the seniors have put in over four years."
With the score, Menick set a singleseason touchdown record for the Crimson and also seemed to have buried Yale early.
The perception was reinforced when Yale missed an open receiver on a bomb on its first possession. Three possessions later, even after a personal foul extended a Yale drive, the Bulldogs were stuffed twice on second-and-one at the Harvard fiveyard line.