It was not a fun day to be a Harvard cheerleader.
In an absolutely dominant showing at Harvard Stadium, the Crimson football team steamrolled Columbia on Saturday afternoon, shutting out the Lions, 69-0.
The 69-point win marked the largest margin of victory in any Ivy League contest since the conference was formed in 1956.
No matter who was on the field, Harvard executed in all facets of the game.
First-string quarterback Colton Chapple threw three first-half touchdown passes and ran for another, second-string middle linebacker Connor Loftus returned an interception for a score, third-string safety Donova Celerin had a late fumble recovery, and fourth-string running back Damani Wilson ran for 121 yards and two scores in a contest in which nearly everyone on the active roster chipped in for the win.
Each of the squad’s top four halfbacks had a touchdown while the defense registered eight sacks, forced six turnovers—plus a number of other fumbles that the Lions recovered—and held Columbia to -19 yards on the ground to add to its FCS lead in run defense.
“It really was the perfect storm of offense, defense, special teams [for] a team and a program that is just much farther along in [its] development [than Columbia is],” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said.
Harvard scored three touchdowns in a 45-second span in the second quarter to break the game open. The Crimson’s 35 points in that quarter set a modern-era program record, and Harvard and went into the half with a 42-0 lead.
With its backups in, the squad then had two touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to put together its largest win since a 69-0 victory over the Coast Guard on October 19, 1946 and its largest victory over a future Ivy rival since a 77-0 shutout of Cornell on Nov. 1, 1890. The last time the Crimson won by more than 69 was a 124-0 victory over Wesleyan on Nov. 3, 1891.
“I honestly felt badly that we scored that many points,” Murphy said. “We’re not trying to run it up, but we had a lot of guys in there who had never played before and were trying to take as much time off the clock as we could, and we just busted a couple plays.”
Harvard’s first of its ten touchdowns came on its second drive of the game. After moving the Crimson down the field with ease, Chapple hit junior wideout Ricky Zorn on a post to the left corner of the end zone for a 12-yard score. The touchdown pass was Chapple’s 19th of the season, setting a Crimson single-season record.
On Harvard’s ensuing possession, the quarterback capped a seven-play, 74-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to junior Andrew Berg. Chapple pump-faked and then threw a lob towards the right corner of the end zone, where the wideout went up over Jeremy Mingo and was able to get one foot down before falling out-of-bounds to make it 14-0.
Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett fumbled at his own 27 on the Lions next possession, and a Jaron Wilson recovery set the Crimson up for another score. On second-and-goal from the eight, Chapple rolled right but threw across his body to find a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk in the left corner of the end zone for his third passing touchdown of the afternoon.
Junior safety Chris Splinter picked off Brackett on the second play of the Lions’ next drive, returning the ball to the one. From there, senior running back Treavor Scales scored on Harvard’s first play of the series to make it 28-0.
Seconds later, Harvard was in the end zone again. Columbia backup quarterback Trevor McDonagh was intercepted by Loftus, who returned the throw 15 yards to the house for the Crimson’s fourth touchdown in less than four minutes.