It was not the Middle Ages nor even yet the middle of the season, but the Harvard football team was on a crusade of its own Friday night, and there was nothing Holy Cross could do to stop it.
Despite playing in a driving rain under the lights at Harvard Stadium, the Crimson (3-0) offense was absolutely dominant, scoring a program-record 49 first-half points before pulling its starters for the final two quarters of the 52-3 rout.
Harvard moved the ball with ease as the Crusader (0-4) defense simply could not get itself off the field. The Crimson went nine for nine on third downs during the half, scoring touchdowns on all six of its possessions and adding a touchdown off a blocked punt for good measure.
“I didn’t see a single positive thing we did on that field tonight,” Crusaders coach Tom Gilmore said.
In his first-ever start, junior wide receiver Ricky Zorn led the team with a career-high six catches for 99 yards. Senior quarterback Colton Chapple hit Zorn over the middle on a 10-yard slant for the game’s first score just 2:11 into the contest, and from there, Harvard was off and running.
The Crimson outgained Holy Cross 394 yards to 92 during the first two quarters as Chapple threw for 260 and four touchdowns while adding a three-yard rushing score as well.
The four touchdown passes placed the senior one shy of the Crimson all-time record, which he tied last season against Bucknell.
Junior tight end Cameron Brate grabbed two of those touchdowns, finding a seam over the middle and beating a linebacker on the first and getting open in the left corner of the end zone on the second.
By the time the clock wound down to halftime, Harvard had already put the game away, surpassing the points record it previously set on Nov. 5, 2005, at Columbia. The victory gave Harvard a bit of revenge for its 30-22 season-opening loss to Holy Cross last season—its only defeat in its last 13 games.
“Harvard’s a very good football team,” Gilmore said. “I give them all the credit in the world.... It’s rare you can find a team that can execute that consistently at that level.”
One of the most impressive performances during the victory came from true freshman Paul Stanton Jr., who had two big sets of shoes to fill Friday night.
The first pair came as a kick returner, as Stanton was giving the job of replacing preseason All-American Seitu Smith, who was out Friday night.
Against the Crusaders, the rookie proved to be a more than suitable fill-in. On his first-ever collegiate touch, Stanton ran the opening kick back 42 yards, setting his team up with solid field position to begin the game.
But it was in the backfield where the freshman really shined. He took over the bulk of the groundwork late in the second quarter and immediately impressed, rushing for 33 yards on his first two carries to set up Harvard’s seventh touchdown.