Football Runs Flat Into Bulldogs for Second Straight Year

Bulldog Roar
Freshman running back Aaron Shampklin rushes against Yale’s defense on Saturday. On a couple other occasions, pitches to the Crimson’s running backs led to fumbles recovered by Yale. These plays were symptomatic of the entire weekend as Harvard’s offense never got going and Yale went on to win 24-3.

Harvard scored on its first drive and then never again. The ball sailed through the uprights 7:37 into the first quarter. The 50-yard campaign into Yale territory represented the longest of the afternoon for the Crimson.

A facemask penalty tacked on to a sack, pushed the team to the Bulldog four-yard line before the drive sputtered to a halt. Yale’s defensive big-men forced the Crimson backward on the following three plays, forcing the three-point try. Harvard never again broke the Bulldog 20.

TRENCH WARFARE

The Crimson’s lackluster offense can be attributed to the Yale’s smothering defensive line.

“We knew going in that, wow, they were an incredibly seasoned, talented, big, strong, physical defensive front seven,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “They had two 300-pounders in the middle that are great kids, great players, great athletes. Tremendous football team.”

On 31 attempts Harvard managed only 26 yards. At the half, freshman quarterback Jake Smith served as the squad’s leading rusher with seven. The team managed a net of six. Overall, the Crimson averaged .8 yards per attempt.

Running back Zane Dudek paced the Bulldogs with a team-leading 64 yards, more than doubling Harvard’s mark by himself. Melvin Rouse II forced another 42 on five attempts. The team racked up 118.

It wasn’t just the Crimson run game that suffered as a result of Yale’s defensive line performance but Smith, and then senior Joe Viviano. Both were rushed in the pocket consistently throughout the afternoon. The quarterbacks were pulled down six times for a total loss of 44 yards. Bulldog quarterback Kurt Rawlings only fell to the ground behind the line twice.

Overall, Yale offense combined for 295 yards while Harvard’s found only 164.

“This game today was won in the trenches,” Murphy said. “Nothing came easy today, to state the obvious. Nothing came easy for us today offensively.”

DROPPING THE BALL

The Crimson put the ball grass—more of mud by this point—twice during the game. The Bulldogs picked it up both times.

The two fumbles came as a result of pitches, which could have been foreshadowed earlier in the game. As Smith escaped left and the defenders pulled him down, he sent the ball flying in running back Aaron Shampklin’s direction. The clearly surprised freshman pulled down the projectile, but was immediately wrapped up.

Later, Smith went for the pitch again on much the same type of play. Still not expecting the ball, this time the tailback failed to pull it in. The pigskin hit the ground and was swooped up by Yale’s Malcolm Dixon. The sophomore defensive back carried the ball 19 yards to the end zone to extend the Bulldog’s lead to 11.

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