Case in point: freshman tailback Clifton Dawson, the transfer from Northwestern who has emerged as the legs of the Harvard offense over the past nine games.
Despite seeing limited action in the Crimson’s first few games, Dawson has become the mainstay of a Crimson offense weakened by injuries since his breakout 218-yard, four-TD performance against Lafayette Oct. 18.
Saturday against Penn, he set a new mark by becoming the first freshman in the history of the Ivy League to break 1,000 rushing yards despite not playing at all in the second game of the season and with the season finale against Yale still to play.
“I’ve got to give credit to the offensive line,” said Dawson, who now has 1,003 yards this year, making him the fifth player to top the 1,000-yard mark in Crimson history.
Dawson also is approaching another category in the record books—most touchdowns in a season. The record is 14. Dawson currently has 12.
“It’s great to achieve individual success, but I’d probably give that up right now to come out with a win and right the mistakes that I and this team have made over the past few games,” Dawson said.
Location, Location, Location
Ask Harvard coach Tim Murphy why the Crimson trailed by 14 points after playing a little less than five minutes and receive a simple answer:
“Field position, field position, field position in the first quarter,” Murphy said.
After Harvard went three-and-out deep in its own territory on the first possession of the game, Penn recovered senior Adam Kingston’s punt on the Harvard 32-yard line. Helped by a Crimson personal foul, the Quakers were able to toss in a quick touchdown.
It was déjà vu all over again when Harvard went three-and-out and Penn started on the Crimson’s 44-yard line.
This time it only took one long pass from quarterback Mike Mitchell to wide receiver Dan Castles to put the Quakers up by two scores with only 4:47 elapsed.
Quaker kicker Josh Appell twice knuckled squib kickoffs deep into Harvard territory, pinning the Crimson at its nine- and 17-yard lines on its first two possessions.
“They were really outstanding squib kicks,” Murphy said. “They were knuckle squibs and very difficult to handle.”