NOTEBOOK: Chapple Stakes Claim to Starting Job
It appears as if Harvard senior quarterback Collier Winters may have been “Wally Pipped.”
After going down with a hamstring injury against Holy Cross during the first week of the season, Winters—like Pipp, the former Yankees starting first baseman—was replaced for the Crimson’s Week 2 game against Brown by junior Colton Chapple.
But with Winters now healthy again, Chapple—much like Pipp’s injury replacement, Lou Gehrig—doesn’t appear interested in giving Winters his job back anytime soon.
The Georgia native has not only held down the fort while filling in for Winters; he has shined.
After Chapple threw for 414 yards—the second-highest single-game total in Harvard history—last week against Cornell, Crimson coach Tim Murphy decided to stick with the junior under center against Bucknell. It was a decision that paid off big time, as Chapple picked apart the Bison defense with ease Saturday afternoon, both in the air and on the ground.
And though he may not play in 2,130 consecutive games as Gehrig did, the junior has nonetheless made a definitive statement that he is the best man to lead Harvard moving forward.
The quarterback scampered for a team-leading 71 yards, using his legs to keep drives alive time and time again. Fifty-three of those yards came on a mid-first-quarter drive, when Chapple scrambled for 10 yards on 3rd-and-7 and then 14 yards on 3rd-and-8 to pick up key first downs.
“Colton’s just playing really smart, focused, disciplined football,” Murphy said. “He knows when to put it up, and he knows when to tuck it ... more than anything, he’s making good decisions.”
Chapple was extremely effective throwing the ball as well. After losing a fumble on the Crimson’s opening drive of the second quarter, Chapple atoned for his error on Harvard’s next possession. The quarterback rolled right and hit a leaping senior wideout Alex Sarkisian with a perfectly-placed 27-yard touchdown pass, giving the Crimson the 14-0 lead.
The junior never looked back, equaling Carroll Lowenstein’s 1953 five-touchdown Harvard passing record—set during a Halloween contest against Davidson. Chapple also became the first Crimson passer to ever throw four touchdowns in back-to-back games. And he did so in just a little over a half, after which sophomore Michael Pruneau entered with the Crimson up, 35-0. The junior has now thrown 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions in four games this year.
IT’S TOO TIGHT
Murphy has used a heavy two tight-end offense for much of the season, and Chapple has made the dynamic pair—junior Kyle “Juice” Juszczyk and sophomore Cameron Brate—the centerpieces of the Crimson passing attack.
Each caught two touchdowns on the afternoon. Juszczyk started the scoring by hauling in a Chapple pass over the middle on the last play of the first quarter.
Brate put the Crimson up, 21-0, 10:21 into the second, snagging a nine-yard touch pass from Chapple with a defender on his back in the right corner of the end zone. The sophomore added a four-yard score with just 26 seconds left in the half, and Juszczyk matched him under two minutes into the third period by snagging Chapple’s fifth TD of the game. On that play, the junior made a nifty move to get around his defender over the middle and snagged the ball in stride for a 25-yard score.
“We’d been setting up that play the entire day,” Juszczyk said. “All that route was was a slant-and-go. The safety bit right away as soon as I made my slant cut, and I just went over the top.”