Making his first start in five weeks, senior quarterback Collier Winters looked anything but rusty. The embattled veteran accounted for six touchdowns—five through the air—in leading an offensive onslaught.
After junior Colton Chapple threw five touchdowns to tie the Harvard all-time single game record last week, senior Collier Winters—named this week’s starter against Princeton—knew he would have to do something equally spectacular Saturday to make his case that he should be the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.
But there was only one way Winters could surpass Chapple’s five-touchdown performance: he’d have to score six times.
So he did.
Winters’ big day in his first start in five weeks helped him to reclaim his starting job and lead the Crimson to its fifth straight win, a 56-39 victory over a surprisingly resilient Tigers squad at Harvard Stadium.
“Our kids hung in there and found a way to win,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, it was a very different game than what we were used to seeing from our defense, but it’s a team effort and we got it done.”
Princeton got on the board first early in the contest, moving the ball down the field in big chunks and scoring under two minutes into the game on a nine-yard touchdown run by freshman Chuck Dibilio.
Harvard responded on its next drive, with Winters capping a nine-play, 69-yard series with a one-yard touchdown run. On the subsequent Crimson possession, the senior led his team down the field in just 1:26, finishing the drive with a touchdown pass to sophomore wideout Matt Brown in the left corner of the end zone that Brown hauled in reaching back over his head.
“[Winters] didn’t look rusty or anything at all,” Princeton coach Bob Surace said. “Their receivers made some unbelievable catches.”
A Tigers field goal was followed by a Treavor Scales one-yard touchdown run for the Crimson early in the second quarter. On Princeton’s next possession, senior cornerback Brian Owusu chased down Tigers running back Brian Mills after a 48-yard scamper and punched the ball out from behind at the Harvard 24.
The Crimson regained possession on the fumble recovery by sophomore Chris Splinter, but Winters, on the run, badly underthrew an open Kyle Juszczyk for an interception along the left sideline to give the ball back to Princeton.
Neither team scored for the rest of the period, and Harvard went into the break up, 21-9.
In the second half, both teams exploded offensively, scoring six total touchdowns in the third quarter.
Just 1:12 into the period, Winters hit a wide-open Chris Lorditch—who finished with six catches for 101 yards on the day—down the right sideline for a 53-yard touchdown. After a Princeton three-and-out and an electric 42-yard punt return by freshman Seitu Smith III, Winters found senior Alex Sarkisian in the left corner of the end zone for another score.
“I prepared this week to come out and hopefully play up to my potential,” said Winters, who watched from the sidelines with an injured hamstring as Chapple threw 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in his absence. “I felt for the most part I did that today.”