When the Harvard football team got the ball for the first time in the fourth quarter of The Game, it trailed Yale, 17-13. Five plays later, the Crimson was back on top thanks to a 32-yard pass from senior quarterback Colton Chapple to junior Andrew Berg.
While Chapple will get credit for that pass, his 61-yard scamper, and a four-yard touchdown pass that all came in the fourth quarter, senior Treavor Scales played as large of a role in the come-from-behind victory, even before his game-clinching 63-yard touchdown run.
For instance, Scales had runs of 15, five, and five yards before Chapple’s bomb to Berg. Besides moving the ball from the Harvard 43 to the Bulldogs’ 32, those plays forced the Yale defense to respect the run on the ensuing snap. So when Chapple faked a handoff, the Bulldog secondary froze just long enough for Berg to get by his man and find an opening in the end a zone.
Later, when the Crimson had a lead and a desire to burn the clock with three minutes to play, Scales was there again. After a holding penalty set up a first-and-20, it seemed as if Harvard was going to have trouble gaining a first down on the ground.
But Scales and the Crimson O-line made it look easy with gains of 12 and nine yards on the next two plays. A fumble on first down forced them to repeat the feat, this time starting with second and 16.
At that point, Scales made sure the team wouldn’t have to worry about being set back again, finding a hole in the offensive line and breaking the run to the outside before out-sprinting the Yale team for a 63-yard score.
“I’ve never seen Treavor run that fast,” Chapple said. “I guarantee you that. He was moving down the sideline. At that moment I knew all our hard work had come to fruition.”
The score put Harvard up, 34-24, effectively clinching the Crimson’s sixth straight win over the Bulldogs and its first come-from-behind win since week one of the season. In total, Harvard faced four fourth-quarter deficits this year, with each result reflecting Scales’ performance.
In wins over San Diego and Yale, he rushed for 117 and 125 yards, respectively, carrying the rock eight times in both cases. In losses to Princeton and Penn, Scales gained just 28 yards on seven carries and 15 yards on five runs, respectively.
When Scales was able to set the stage for comebacks and later burn the clock on the ground, the Crimson came out victorious. When he couldn’t, they didn’t.
That was the story of Saturday’s game. It was the story of the 2012 season.
WHAT THE YALE?
Coming into Saturday’s contest, Yale ranked near the bottom of the Ancient Eight in total offense and defense. But that hardly showed at Harvard Stadium. On defense, the Bulldogs limited the highest-scoring Harvard team in school history to just three first-half points.
“[Yale] did a good job,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “I thought those guys did a great job coaching; they gave us all we could handle. They were very creative, very tough.”
In the game, Chapple tied a season high with two turnovers while Yale surrendered the ball just once.