NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Maybe Patrick Witt should have gone to that Rhodes Scholarship interview after all.
The Bulldog quarterback—who last week received national media attention for his decision to play against Harvard today instead of attending the concurrent interview in Atlanta—was intercepted three times at the Yale Bowl by a swarming Harvard defense, which joined with Harvard’s highest-ever scoring offense to lead the Crimson to a 45-7 victory in the 128th rendition of The Game this afternoon.
With the win, No. 14 Harvard completed one of the most dominant seasons in its history, finishing 9-1 overall and 7-0 in the Ancient Eight.
"We got beat by a better football team today," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "That team is bigger, stronger, and faster. They've got good players at almost every position. ... They're the best team in our league, the best team we've played this year, and it showed."
After winning the Ivy title outright with a 37-20 win over Penn last weekend, the Crimson on paper had nothing to play for today. But the team nonetheless sent a talented senior class out with a resounding victory, a fitting epilogue to its a storybook season.
The win was the ninth straight for Harvard, which lost its opening game at Holy Cross but afterwards cruised through the Ancient Eight and two non-conference opponents during the rest of the year, never facing a major challenge on the road to its 14th Ivy League championship and first perfect Ivy season since 2007.
In his final collegiate game, quarterback Collier Winters went out with a bang, throwing for 355 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for one more. The senior also gained 62 yards on the ground and completed 27-of-42 passes on the afternoon, giving him a 68.6 percent completion percentage for the year that is the highest in Crimson history.
"It's been a long journey for me," Winters said. "This kind of season was something I'd always wanted to happen and I was hoping for. I'm thankful for my health in the last half the season, and the guys around me made things easy and made the season a lot of fun."
Things didn't start easily for the quarterback, who marched the Crimson down the field but fumbled at the Yale five yard line on the opening drive of the game. After the teams traded three-and-outs, Witt led the Bulldogs on a six-play drive that he finished off on 3rd-and-3 with a 24-yard touchdown strike over the middle to Jackson Liguori.
But from there, the Crimson would dominate the rest of the game, scoring 45 unanswered on its way to the win.
Winters responded to the early Bulldog lead by orchestrating an eight-play, 73-yard scoring drive that he capped with a four-yard run.
"It was annoying to cough up the ball after we got the momentum going and got things going on offense," Winters said. "But all year we were so confident in ourselves that no matter what adversity we had … we were going to be ready to keep pushing, and I think our confidence allowed us to move past it and get onto the next drive."
On the subsequent Yale possession, junior cornerback Brian Owusu stripped Liguori after a first-down reception, and sophomore Jaron Wilson recovered the fumble at the Crimson 43.
Winters then led Harvard down the field with ease once gain, throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Alex Sarkisian three seconds into the second quarter to put the Crimson up, 14-7.
"There was a seam, and I just ran the route I was supposed to run," said Sarkisian, who finished with seven receptions for 97 yards. "Collier made a great play in the pocket and put the ball in the perfect place."