BETHLEHEM, Penn.—In a contest that could have been a trap game for Harvard football, the only person that felt trapped was Lehigh quarterback Chris Lum.
The sophomore, who was making his first career start, was terrorized by the Crimson defense, which sacked him four times and picked off four of his passes.
Senior linebacker Jon Takamura ran back a fourth-quarter interception 60 yards for a touchdown to ice Harvard’s (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) 28-14 win over the Mountain Hawks (0-4, 0-0 Patriot) Saturday in a non-conference matchup at Goodman Stadium.
“I think the combination of [good coaching and veteran leadership] has given us a lot of energy on defense, a lot of leadership on defense,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “We’re a very solid unit right now.”
With six minutes to play in the game, Lum attempted a screen pass on third and 10. But a blitzing Takamura read the play to perfection, pulling down the ball and finding an open lane to the endzone.
“I just had my sights on the endzone, and I was going to get there one way or another,” Takamura said. “I saw [Lum] coming at me, and he had a great angle. So I felt like I had room to cut it back—normally, we’re taught not to cut it back, but I had the room to. Once I saw him slide, I knew I had it.”
But it was simply the flashiest play from a defensive unit that only allowed Lehigh across midfield five times during the game.
“I felt our coaches had us very well-prepared for the Lehigh offense—and give them credit, they came out and played hard,” said Takamura, who finished with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a pick. “But we really made plays, a lot of plays. We’re playing with a great group of guys on defense right now, so we just have to keep rolling.”
The Mountain Hawks, who were looking to avoid their first 0-4 start since the 1982 season, got off on the right foot. On the first drive of the game, Lum took his team 83 yards to an early lead.
On a 3rd-and-goal play, the quarterback hit junior tight end Alex Wojdowski for a one-yard touchdown pass. An extra point from kicker Tom Randazza made the score 7-0 in favor of the home team.
But that was the last time Lehigh would threaten until the fourth quarter, and the Crimson offense took advantage of the opportunities handed to it by the defense.
Senior Ryan Barnes made Harvard’s first pick of the day late in the first quarter, putting the Crimson on its own 37-yard line. And from there, the tag team of junior quarterback Collier Winters and senior running back Cheng Ho led the drive that would even the score.
Ho, Harvard’s third-string running back, got his first start of the season with junior Gino Gordon injured and freshman Treavor Scales away for a family funeral. And Ho seized the opportunity, running for 132 yards on 21 carries and scoring two of the Crimson’s touchdowns—one by air, one by land.
After Ho rushed for 13 yards early in the drive, he connected with Winters for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 12:46 remaining in the half.
But when the Mountain Hawks got the ball back, it was déja vu.