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Last Saturday's much-anticipated matchup between the Ivy League's leaders left little doubt about the identity of the conference's hottest team. Dartmouth's Big Green proved only a small hurdle for the surging Harvard football team to clear.
The Crimson (6-1, 4-0 Ivy), a two-point underdog for its visit to Hanover, N.H., burst out of the gate quickly on offense and made its best defensive showing in recent memory to blank the Big Green (5-2, 3-1), 24-0. The win vaulted Harvard into sole possession of first place in the Ivy League and ended Dartmouth's quest to remain unbeaten in the league for a second straight season.
While wide receiver Terence Patterson claimed the league's Offensive Player of the Week honors for his three-touchdown performance, Harvard's outstanding play on the other side of the ball was the real story of the game.
The Crimson's defensive unit held the Big Green to minus three yards rushing and 173 total yards. Harvard also intercepted five of quarterback Pete Sellers' passes over the course of the game to hand Dartmouth its first shutout loss since 1987. That same year also had marked Harvard's last winning season, but Saturday's win ensured that the Crimson will finish above .500 once again.
Of course, Harvard is aiming much higher than just a winning season. The Crimson controls its own destiny as far as the Ivy League title is concerned.
Harvard's next opponent, Brown (5-2, 2-2), rebounded from two consecutive league losses to pummel Cornell, 37-12. Quarterback James Perry led the way for the Bears, completing 19-of-31 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns before leaving the game late in the third quarter. Wide receiver Sean Morey snagged seven passes for 221 yards and three scores, becoming the first receiver in Brown history to top 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
The Crimson could have its hands full with the Bears, whose offense has averaged nearly 31 points per game this season. Brown's secondary is also top notch, having picked off 23 passes in seven games this season.
Even more likely to challenge Harvard is Penn (4-3, 3-1), which has shaken off a dismal 1-3 start to string together three convincing victories. The Quakers beat up on lowly Yale 26-7 in preparation for their showdown with archrival Princeton on Saturday.
Penn boasts a stingy defense led by defensive end Doug Zinser, who had three sacks against Yale. The visiting Quakers limited the Elis to just 110 total yards and four first downs.
The Penn offense has a dangerous weapon in running back Jim Finn, who scored three touchdowns and rushed for 187 yards on 21 carries in New Haven.
In other action, Columbia strong safety Hashim Dalton stopped two drives with timely interceptions to help his team top Princeton, 17-0. Dalton's first interception of Harry Nakielny saved a touchdown, while his 47-yard return after his second pick set up the touchdown pass which put Columbia ahead 10-0.
The Lions braved a driving rainstorm and gusty winds to dash Princeton's hopes of a late season revival and a shot at the Ivy championship.
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