Cutting right, Harvard junior receiver Andrew Berg looked for the ball as he came out of his route. With no pigskin in sight, Berg spotted senior quarterback Colton Chapple quickly scanning the field for a target with his primary and secondary options already covered.
As Cornell defenders prepared to converge on Chapple, Berg sprinted towards the right corner of the end zone as Chapple lofted up a pass into coverage.
Leaping above a Big Red defender, Berg plucked the ball out of the air, tiptoeing his feet in bounds to grab his second touchdown of the day—a score that gave the Crimson (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) an early two-touchdown lead against Cornell (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) that it never relinquished en route to a 45-13 victory.
“The play was like the scramble drills we do in practice,” Berg said. “We have rules for where we are supposed to be [when Colton scrambles], and he saw me at the last second. It worked out very well.”
After an injury to leading receiver sophomore Seitu Smith earlier in the season and the graduation last year of Chris Lorditch ’11, Alex Sarkisian ’12, and Adam Chrissis ’12—the team’s top three wide receivers from a year ago—this was Berg’s first game as the go-to receiver on his team.
After totaling zero receptions as a freshman and just three as a sophomore, Berg more than doubled his career total in Harvard’s season opener against San Diego, where he had four catches in his first career start.
This season, Berg has played in all four games and leads the team in receiving yards and is tied for the lead in both touchdowns and receptions. His 15.3 yards per catch rank fourth in the Ivy League and he is sixth in the conference in total receiving yardage.
Berg’s three touchdowns on Saturday made him only the fourth Harvard wide receiver to reach the end zone as many times in a single game and the first since 2005.
Berg finished with 10 catches for 132 yards to set career highs in both categories.
“I’ll start off by giving all the credit to the offensive line and Colton,” Berg said. “We had a few injuries on the offensive line this week, so for them to give us time to throw the ball is fantastic. The routes that we had [on Satuday] were perfect for the defense we were playing. Even on some plays where the routes weren’t perfect, we were still able to get a lot of good plays on coverages that didn’t necessarily favor us.”
Harvard piled up 544 yards of total offense with only one turnover, balancing an aerial attack that yielded four touchdowns and 362 yards against a running attack that averaged over four yards-per-carry and added two touchdowns in the second half.
Senior running back Treavor Scales had 106 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, and Chapple chipped in 53 yards and one more touchdown to finish with five total scores on the day.
The team came out and scored on its first three possessions of the game—all on Chapple passes to Berg—but then only scored three points for the rest of the first three quarters, twice venturing into the red zone and failing to come away with points.
When the fourth quarter began, the Big Red trailed the Crimson by only 11 points, 24-13, before Harvard ran off three straight touchdowns to put the game away. With the win, Chapple improved his career record as a starter to 7-0 over the past two seasons.
The 21 straight points to start the first half extended a streak of nine straight first-half scoring drives going back to last week’s 52-3 victory over Holy Cross. The team has outscored its opponents by a combined 107-16 in the past two weeks.
“Cornell is playing a lot of young guys in the secondary and we knew that was something that we could exploit,” Chapple said. “Having the playmakers like [Berg] and [junior receiver] Ricky [Zorn] on the outside makes it a great matchup all around. You also have to give credit to the offensive line, who has shown that they can protect for 12 seconds. With the way we are running the ball, that makes us very hard to defend.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: Oct. 10
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the final score of Harvard’s football game against Cornell. It was 45-13, not 41-13. In addition, it misstated the class year of Chris Lorditch ’11 and incorrectly stated that Ryan Fitzpatrick played for the Crimson in 2005. In fact, Fitzpatrick’s final season was 2004.