At halftime, the Harvard band put on a show that included the largest baton ever, as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records, at ten feet.
Dawson was the next to tack a record onto his already impressive resume.
With 3:44 left in the third quarter, the back ran for his 52nd career rushing touchdown, tying him with Brown graduate Nick Hartigan for first on the all-time Ivy League list.
The win was also Harvard head coach Tim Murphy’s 78th career victory at Harvard Stadium. It moved him into a tie for second with John Yovicsin, who coached from 1957-70, and left him 39 shy of Joe Restic’s record of 117, set from 1971-93.
But Murphy claimed to be most focused on a fourth record, this time concerning next weekend’s Harvard-Princeton showdown.
Both 5-0, Harvard and Princeton will face each other as undefeated squads for the first time since 1946. Not since 1922 have the teams met with marks of 5-0 or better.
Despite guiding his team to victory, junior quarterback Chris Pizzotti was far from perfect: both his execution and his accuracy left coaches with something to be desired.
His numbers were more than deceiving.
The play-caller put up 210 yards and two touchdowns, as nine different receivers caught passes.
But after completing 54 percent of his passes in his first three starts, Pizzotti was good for just 42.5 percent on Saturday.
“I’ll tell you [the problem today was] definitely execution as an offense,” Pizzotti said. “We had a lot of open receivers today and personally I didn’t have my best game.”
Even the passes he did complete were frequently low and off target. Pizzotti added to his problems by throwing behind his wideout on the second drive of the game. Senior linebacker Justin Stovall intercepted his miscue deep in Harvard territory, and the play led to Lafayette’s first and only score of the game.
Pizzotti would calm down as the game progressed, but he never found his usual rhythm. And with junior quarterback and last year’s nine-game starter Liam O’Hagan making his highly anticipated return from suspension next week, there is no guarantee that Pizzotti will have another chance to prove himself as starter.
IN WITH THE NEW
The defensive game saw a mixture of new and old faces.
Ever-present senior tackle Michael Berg and junior defensive end Brad Bagdis proved Saturday was business as usual.
Bagdis posted 11 tackles, including one sack and four for a loss. Although Berg had only two tackles with one for a loss, the teammates drew double teams that opened up opportunities for the new guys.
And the younger players were up to the task.
Sophomore linebacker Glenn Dorris posted three big plays in a sack, a fumble recovery, and his first career interception. But Dorris was not alone.
Sophomore defensive end Sonny McCracken sacked Lafayette quarterback Brad Maurer three times on three straight plays.
The Leopards already had three first downs on the drive, and McCracken’s hat trick pushed them out of Harvard territory and stopped a potential threat to their lead.
“I thought people were going to start throwing hats for a hat trick,” Murphy said. “We didn’t even know if he was going to play on Tuesday, because he rolled his ankle in practice...He’s just a very tough, competitive kid.”
ODDS ‘N ENDS
Dawson’s 100-plus rushing yard output marked the 23rd time he has reached that mark....Dawson passed former Princeton tailback Keith Elias for fourth on the all-time Ivy League rushing list....With the win, Harvard ran its streak to nine games....The last time the Crimson tasted defeat was in last year’s 27-24 loss to Princeton....The Crimson has started 5-0 for the third time in the last four seasons....Harvard gave up its fewest total offensive yards this season on defense, as the Leopards finished with a meager 240....The Harvard defense has yet to give up more than 100 yards rushing this season....Saturday marked the first time the Crimson has not scored 30 points this fall.
—Staff writer Madeleine I. Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.