Harvard Defense Stumbles

WORCESTER—Returning seven starters from last year’s standout defense, Harvard was supposed to be able to put pressure on Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph.

Unfortunately for the Crimson, supposed to only goes so far.

The pass rush only managed to get through the Crusaders’ offensive line a handful of times, as Randolph moved with ease, rolling out of the pocket as well as running the option.

“That kid doesn’t get sacked,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “I mean, he just throws the ball away, he’s got a quick outlet. We looked at the film of him last year in three different games, and he doesn’t get sacked. He’s obviously a really fine football player.”

In last season’s opener against Holy Cross, the Crimson tallied six sacks for 43 yards on opening day, but this year it wasn’t until an important fourth down for the Crusaders—later made moot when Holy Cross scored on its next drive—that junior linebacker Glenn Dorris broke free to pin the elusive Randolph nine yards behind the line of scrimmage.

“They do a very good job of running some hot routes with some blitzes, and [Randolph] does a really good job of getting the ball off,” Dorris said. “It’s a credit to their offensive line, and to him, and to the receivers—their offense as a whole—that we didn’t get any more sacks.”

SECOND TO SOME

The linebackers and linemen were not alone in their woes, as what projected to be a well-stocked secondary showed signs of youth.

The two veteran cornerbacks, preseason All-American junior Andrew Berry and 2006 second team All-Ivy senior Steven Williams, strutted their stuff on the field, combining for eight tackles—one for a loss—and four pass breakups. Berry nearly had an interception in the endzone and Williams leapt to deflect a potential 40-yard completion to a seemingly open receiver.

But Randolph picked on inexperienced sophomore defensive backs Derrick Barker and Ben Jenkins once Berry and Williams closed the door with their solid coverage, including on the 40-yard game-winning touchdown that sailed over Jenkins’ head.

“When you throw the ball 60 times, they’re going to try to figure out who your top guys are and try not to throw at them,” Murphy said.

“That’s football, you understand that eventually they’re going to try to pick on those guys.”

YELLOW FEVER

The referees made quite a few questionable calls on Saturday. Late in the second quarter, with Harvard up, 14-0, Berry looked like he was going to intercept a pass in the endzone, when he was pulled down from behind by the Holy Cross receiver.

The crowd booed when the flag was thrown—fearing a rare offensive pass interference call—the referee shocked everyone by calling a defensive penalty. The Crusaders scored their first touchdown on the very next play.

And that was only the first of four pass interference calls against the Crimson on the day. On the next drive, senior wideout Corey Mazza was called for offensive pass interference when he collided with a corner while running his route. As a result, the Crimson went three and out and was forced to punt.

Harvard was charged with 11 total penalties on the day for 109 yards, while the Crusaders had just six for 35.

The Crimson would have had many more opportunities to score and put the game away had it not been limited by flags.

EXTRA POINTS

The loss was Harvard’s first against Holy Cross since 2000...The winning team has scored 31 points in each of the teams’ last three games...Sophomore Patrick Long took over field-goal duty from senior Matt Schindel, but missed his first attempt, a 24-yarder, late in the opening quarter.

—Staff writer Madeleine I. Shapiro can be reached at mshapiro@fas.harvard.edu.

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