Dawson Sets Harvard Scoring Mark, Again

Week-old injury doesn’t sideline, slow Harvard’s tailback despite concerns

Joseph L. Abel

With a touchdown on the Crimson's first drive, sophomore tailback Clifton Dawson set Harvard's single-season scoring mark with 96 points.

Even when he’s supposed to be recovering from an injury, Clifton Dawson still finds a way to break school records.

With his two-yard touchdown run on Harvard’s first drive of the game, the sophomore running back reached 96 points on the season, breaking the record of 94 set by Charlie Brickley ’15 in 1912. It was Dawson’s 16th score of the season and 15th on the ground, both school records that he first claimed two weeks ago and to which he continues to add.

“It’s always great to achieve individual success,” Dawson said, “but it’s a great testament to how well our offensive line has played. They’ve played outstanding the entire year.”

Dawson left last week’s game against Dartmouth early in the fourth quarter, apparently injuring a muscle in his side. Midway through the week, Harvard coach Tim Murphy had expressed doubt that Dawson would start Saturday.

Both X-rays and an MRI came back negative, however, and the Ivies’ leading rusher took the field as usual.

“I definitely wanted to be in there and helping the team in any way that I could,” Dawson said. “I was confident I was going to play.”

Though Dawson gained only 82 yards, well below his average of 134.3 yards per game, it was enough for him to pass 1,000 yards for the second straight season. He has 1,022 yards through eight games.


Junior Jason O’Neill seems to have caught onto this “touchdown reception” thing pretty quickly. The converted defensive lineman, now a third-string tight end, caught two touchdowns on just three passes.

The first score, a soft toss from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to the left corner of the endzone, was the first catch of O’Neill’s collegiate career.

When Fitzpatrick was asked if O’Neill was a “pretty good receiver,” the Harvard captain merely smiled and nodded.

O’Neill also caught an eight-yard pass from quarterback Garrett Schires in the third quarter to give the Crimson its fifth touchdown and the 38-0 final score.


With the game well under Harvard’s control before the third quarter was out, backups from both sidelines got to see extensive playing time. In place of Dawson, the Crimson subbed in senior Nick Carrington and freshman Charles Baakel, while Fitzpatrick got some relief from both Schires and freshman Liam O’Hagan.

Even wide receiver Brian Edwards yielded his duties as punt returner to freshman Steve Williams in the fourth quarter.

“The guys who filled in stepped up,” Murphy said. “It’s been just a great across-the-board team effort.”

On the Columbia side, Lions coach Bob Shoop looked upon the blowout as an opportunity to get his younger players some action.

“The score’s 38-nothing,” Shoop said matter-of-factly. “We could get our guys killed if we want, or we could find out what some of our young guys can do, give ’em a chance to play in games.”


While the Crimson is accustomed to large half-time leads, its 14 points in the first quarter were out of character. Before Saturday’s game, Harvard had only scored 32 total first-quarter points through seven games....Freshman kicker Matt Schindel was lights-out on all five extra-point attempts as well as on a 32-yard field goal....Sophomore punter Clem McDavid, filling in for the injured Mike King, had a solid day as well, averaging 37.8 yards per punt....O’Neill now has as many touchdowns, two, as Edwards despite 39 fewer receptions.

—Staff writer Lisa J. Kennelly can be reached at