Harvard's failed bid for its first 3-0 start since 1987 allowed Bucknell to improve to 4-0 on the season. That mark stands as Bucknell's best since 1954. The win also seems to put the Bison in the driver's seat to repeat as Patriot League champions, though five of the team's remaining seven games will be on the road.
Senior split end Colby Skelton's had a record-breaking day. His five receptions for 106 yards yesterday made Skelton Harvard's all-time career reception leader with 109, surpassing Pat McInally '75.
But records aside, the final score left a bitter taste in the wideout's mouth. "The record is nice," Skelton said. "But the game is the most important thing to me."
Though the record doesn't ensure success for the team, it does signal a return to prominence for Harvard's most dangerous receiver, who underwent surgery in the off-season to repair an ACL torn in last November's victory over Yale. Coming into yesterday's contest, Skelton had made just one catch for nine yards in the first two games. Yesterday, however, Skelton's speed and athleticism was clearly a force.
"I feel real good. I [rehabilitated myself] hard this summer...and I'm not feeling any effects now," Skelton said.
Second Half Slumps
Although Harvard's fast starts have allowed the team to play with a lead for most of the season, it has not kept up that execution into the second half, and the slow finishes finally caught up with the Crimson yesterday.
After outscoring its first three opponents 41-7 in the first quarter, Harvard has not scored a single point in the fourth quarter, while its opponents have put up 24. Saturday, Harvard's offense could muster only 26 yards in the fourth quarter.
"If you get [up big early] you've got to be able to put them away...that's something we've really talked about this season," said Harvard coach Tim Murphy.
Maybe Harvard should be taking notes from its opponent Saturday on how to perform down the stretch. Bucknell has won its four games this season by a combined total of only 17 points. Bucknell has outscored its opponents 21-9 in the fourth quarter during that stretch. Indeed, during Bucknell Coach Tom Gadd's tenure, the Bison are now 8-3 in games decided by four points or less, and have won the five such games.
The Harvard defense's extreme emphasis on plugging the middle may need to be re-examined after the aerial assault and end-around running blitz the Crimson have endured the last two weeks.
The Bison ran only three plays between the tackles on Saturday, netting zero yards, in the second half before the team's final possession when it solely sought to run out the clock. Meanwhile, Bucknell racked up 116 yards rushing at the corner of the Harvard defense, and 88 yards passing, averaging 6.7 yards-per-pass play.
After the game, it seemed that Harvard had a mind set from day one that never changed, and Bucknell knew exactly what that mind set was and simply exploited it.