The Harvard football team’s game against Holy Cross Friday night at Harvard Stadium shared few similarities with last year’s 30-22 Crusaders win. The Crimson (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) offense could not be contained by the Holy Cross (0-4) defense or a steady rain, scoring a touchdown on each of its first seven possessions to finish the first half with a 49-3 lead and the game with a 52-3 win.
Harvard displayed its offensive firepower early, scoring just over two minutes into the game on a 10-yard strike from senior Colton Chapple to junior wideout Ricky Zorn. Zorn finished the half one yard shy of 100 yards receiving while Chapple threw for 260 yards and four scores.
“[Since] there wasn’t a lot of wind, there was no question we were going to throw the ball,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “We take great pride in being able to play in any conditions.”
Chapple ran for another score before being pulled at halftime, while senior running back Treavor Scales, who ran for over 100 yards in each of the team’s first two games, added 82 yards in the first half.
Harvard’s 49 first-half points broke the school record, which dated back to 2005.
“It’s a credit to the guys up front, seeing as how we can do pretty much whatever we want, whether it be throwing the ball or running the ball,” Chapple said. “Keeping [the defense] on their toes is something that we were able to do in the first half.”
Holy Cross came out of the gates just as explosively, gaining 65 yards on its first play from scrimmage down to the Crimson 12.
But the Crusaders were unable to punch it in, eventually settling for a field goal. From that point on, Holy Cross gained only 26 yards and two first downs in the first half.
As dominant as Harvard was on offense and defense, its special teams play was equally impressive early on.
On the Crusaders’ first of nine punts, Crimson sophomore Connor Sheehan blew through the line and blocked the kick. Senior D.J. Monroe scooped the ball up and ran it back for a touchdown.
“Connor Sheehan is a kid who has a knack for that,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “He has tremendous closing speed in a short space; he’s becoming a really huge special teams player for us.
“That [blocked punt] was the key play of the first half,” Murphy added. “It just really put us over the top.”
On Harvard’s final drive of the half, Murphy elected to send out backup running backs senior Rich Zajeski and freshman Paul Stanton Jr. instead of Scales.
The pair of replacements proved just as dynamic. Stanton started the drive with two rushes for 33 yards, and Zajeski finished it with a four-yard touchdown run. In between, Chapple connected with senior Kyle Juszczyk for a 51-yard gain.
The Harvard backups got more playing time in the second half as few Crimson starters saw the field.