THE BOOK OF SAMUELS: Storybook Ending to Historic Season
After Harvard’s win over Penn last Saturday, the Crimson clinched the Ivy title outright. And so in a sense, that was the end of the story. The hero vanquished the villain. The guy got the girl.
But with one game left in the schedule—the biggest contest of the season, The Game—Harvard still had to fight for that often-elusive happily-ever-after.
And with a resounding, emphatic, 45-7 decimation of Yale, the Crimson earned just that.
The Game quickly became a microcosm of the Harvard season. After a slow start, a stingy defensive line and an historically high-octane offense tore apart the opposition. Once the Crimson found its rhythm, Yale—like the past eight teams Harvard has faced—couldn’t handle the music.
In his final contest in a Crimson uniform, senior quarterback Collier Winters penned his greatest masterpiece of all—his Beethoven’s Ninth—with a 355-yard passing performance, in addition to rushing for 62 yards on the ground.
Yet the decisive victory didn’t seem so certain at first. Before climbing to the top, the Crimson dug itself a hole.
Charging down the field to begin the game, Harvard looked poised to score in the game’s first possession. But Winters coughed up the ball in the Bulldog end zone, handing it over to Yale at its own 20.
The Bulldogs struck first just a few minutes later, putting the home team up by seven.
All of a sudden, what was billed as an easy Harvard victory looked very much in question.
But at this point, that shouldn’t be too surprising. In game after game, the Crimson has fallen behind only to catch up and cruise to an easy victory.
Indeed, that’s the very story of the Harvard season. Like so many champions, the Crimson started off slowly in 2011 before leaving the pack in the dust down the homestretch.
The Crimson dropped its first game of the season in an ugly 30-22 loss to Holy Cross. With miscues and blown overages galore, Harvard looked like a sloppy ragtag crew, not potential Ivy champions.
But then, something for this Crimson team clicked. Harvard beat Brown, 24-7, and after that, Harvard was off to the races. The once mighty Penn just became the Sham to Harvard’s Secretariat.
And the same pattern emerged at Yale on Sunday. The Bulldogs took the lead, Harvard made it neck and neck, and then the Crimson exploded, leaving Yale in the dust.
After the Bulldogs found the end zone in the first, that would be the end of Yale scoring for the afternoon. And Harvard would rattle off 45 unanswered points before the contest came to a merciful end for the home team.