NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Senior quarterback Collier Winters missed four of the first five games this season.
But in just six starts, he has somehow managed to put himself in the running for Ivy League Player of the Year.
Winters had another strong performance in the final appearance of his collegiate career, throwing three touchdowns—two passes, one run—in Harvard’s blowout 45-7 win over the Bulldogs in the 128th playing of The Game. It was the third time in the last five games that Winters threw for at least 300 yards passing.
Set up by a 29-yard run from freshman running back Zach Boden—a favorite to win Ivy League Rookie of the Year—Winters ran it in from four yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with just under four minutes in the first quarter.
After Yale fumbled on its next drive, Harvard regained possession on its own 43-yard line. Three seconds into the second quarter, Winters hit senior wide receiver Alex Sarkisian over the middle to give Harvard a 14-7 advantage. The Crimson never trailed again and had a 24-7 lead by halftime.
“I think that most of the credit for our passing game goes to the offensive line,” Sarkisian said. “They gave Collier time to sit back there and make decisions—he makes great decisions—and the offense can really run smoothly.”
Even in just six games, Winters is in the conversation for Ivy Player of the Year. The red-shirt senior completed almost 70 percent of his passes and averaged just over 265 yards per game. Winters scored 20 touchdowns in 2011—13 in the air, seven on the ground—to lead Harvard to its most prolific offensive season in the modern era.
Winters scored more touchdowns this year than the entire Princeton team.
ON THE MARGINS
Harvard has won nine straight games, and not many of them have been close.
After falling behind early, Harvard won The Game by a 38-point margin, the largest defeat for either team since 1982, when the Crimson beat the Bulldogs by an identical 45-7 total.
No one has won by a margin greater than that since 1957, when Yale won in New Haven, 54-0.
In its last nine games, Harvard has made a habit of easy wins. In addition to setting the program’s scoring record, the Crimson also held opponents to single-digit totals four times this season.
“This group is really, one, extremely coachable,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “Two, very, very selfless. The team chemistry on this team was really exceptional. The kids really cared about each other, respected each other.”
After the Crimson suffered what would be its only loss against Holy Cross in the first week of the season, Harvard followed up with back-to-back performances that kept opponents in the single digits, first against Brown and then at Lafayette.