NOTEBOOK: Rushing Attack and Defensive Line Lead Football to Week 1 Victory
Last year, Colton Chapple’s four starts for the Harvard football team were all about the pass. The then-junior, who went undefeated filling in for the injured Collier Winters ’11, became the first player in Crimson history to throw for four touchdowns in back-to-back games and the second to throw for five scores in a contest.
But on Saturday, as Chapple struggled with his accuracy in his first game as the team’s number one quarterback, it was the run that led Harvard to a 28-13 win.
Senior running back Treavor Scales had a career day on the ground, rushing for 173 yards on just 19 carries and two touchdowns. After he collected 54 yards in the first half—most of his attempts coming on delays with Chapple in the shotgun—Scales scored both of his touchdowns in the final quarter, when the Crimson’s 21 unanswered points gave the team its 10th straight win dating back to last season.
On Harvard’s first drive of the fourth, the senior scampered for 28 yards to help set up a Chapple touchdown pass to senior tight end Kyle Juszczyk that gave Harvard the lead.
On the next Crimson possession, Harvard had the ball in the red zone looking to widen its advantage. A 10-yard dash by Scales brought the ball to the two, and after a one-yard Scales rush, Chapple ran the option to perfection, pitching the ball back to his running back who scored untouched to put Harvard up by eight.
Later, at the 4:27 mark of the fourth, the Crimson had possession at its own 34 with the chance to run down the clock and ice the contest.
“Colton came into the huddle, called ‘Power,’ and he said, ‘Guys, one first down, and we got the game,’” Scales said. “And I looked at him in his face and said, ‘No, we’re scoring a touchdown.’”
And that was exactly what the halfback did, exploding through a hole on the right side and surging 66 yards into the end zone.
“The offensive line did a heck of a job blocking,” Scales said. “It opened up like the Red Sea, and I had no choice. I was obligated to get to that end zone when it opens up like that.”
Last year, the Crimson committed the third most penalties in the Ancient Eight, and that trend continued on Saturday when Harvard earned eight flags that cost it a total of 66 yards.
The largest of those infractions came late in the third quarter. Following a San Diego touchdown that gave it a 13-7 lead, sophomore Seitu Smith II returned the subsequent kickoff to the house to put the Crimson back ahead and swing the momentum to the home team. But the touchdown was called back thanks to a holding penalty on junior tight end Cameron Brate, forcing Harvard to not only lose the points but also to have to start its subsequent drive at its own six.
Though they did not have as direct an impact, a number of other penalties hurt the team throughout the rest of the game.
With the Crimson nearing midfield early in the second quarter, sophomore left tackle Anthony Fabiano, making his first career start, committed a personal foul penalty that turned a 2nd and 9 into a 2nd and 24, essentially killing the drive.
On its next possession, Harvard was facing a 3rd and 3 when senior Rich Zajeski picked up the first down on a four-yard rush. But a holding penalty on Juszczyk negated the first and pushed the Crimson back into its own territory, and the team had to punt following an incompletion.