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PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Isaac Bruce and Kurt Warner didn't suit up for the Harvard football team on Saturday, but the offensive explosion from junior quarterback Neil Rose and sophomore wide receiver Carl Morris was a performance of which the Rams would have been proud.
Harvard (1-1, 1-0 Ivy) defeated Brown (1-1, 0-1) 42-37 in a game that featured 220 receiving yards and two touchdowns from Morris, 412 passing yards and three touchdown passes from Rose, who was making his first collegiate start, and five second-half Crimson touchdowns.
Harvard set four offensive records in this contest--most team passing yards in a game with 436, most individual passing yards in a game with Rose's 412, most individual yards receiving with Morris' 220 and most total offensive yards with 586.
Without the fourth quarter, though, the Crimson offensive records would never have come to be.
Down 31-21 with 14:16 to go in the fourth quarter because of a 10-play, 46-yard Brown scoring drive, Harvard took over at its own 37-yard line. On first down, Rose's pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage by a Brown defender.
On second-and-10 the Crimson lined up in the shotgun with four wide receivers. Rose dropped back and found Morris at the 50-yard line. Morris got some downfield blocking from fellow sophomore wideout Sean Meeker as he evaded and outran Bears defenders for a touchdown.
Morris' touchdown catch and the extra point made the score 31-28 Brown. The Bears returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 23.
On first down, Brown senior quarterback Eric Webber, who completed 32-of-51 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns on the day, found junior tight end David Brookman 40 yards down the field at the Harvard 38.
Harvard then stopped Bears junior running back Michael Malan, who gained 190 yards and scored a touchdown on 24 carries, on consecutive downs.
On third down, Brown tried to set up a middle screen, but Harvard senior defensive tackle R.D. Kern knocked down Webber's pass. Brown punted into the end zone on fourth down for a touchback.
Harvard's offense lined up in a pro set--two wide receivers, two running backs and a tight end--on first down. Rose found Morris, who was split to the right of the formation at the Harvard 45-yard line. Morris , who was uncovered, outran the entire Brown secondary for an 80-yard touchdown reception. The pass was the longest touchdown pass for the Crimson in 38 years and gave Harvard its first lead of the season, 35-31.
On the next drive, Brown took over on its 35-yard line after the Crimson kickoff went out of bounds. Brown came out in a four wide receiver set on the drive, a formation that the Crimson had trouble with all afternoon.
Malan ran for 13 yards on the first play from scrimmage. On the next play, Brown kept four wide receivers in the game but put Webber into the shotgun. Webber's pass was knocked down on the play by junior defensive tackle Kyle Sims at the line of scrimmage.
On second-and-10, sophomore free safety Niall Murphy broke up a pass intended for preseason All-American senior wide receiver Stephen Campbell, who had nine catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. On third-and-10, Webber, still operating out of the shotgun, found Campbell in between the double coverage of Niall Murphy and junior cornerback Andy Fried, but he was out of bounds on the left sideline.
On fourth down, Brown was forced to punt and Morris returned the ball to Harvard's 29-yard line.
Harvard lined up in a pro set and handed the ball to the fourth-string running back, sophomore Nick Palazzo, who gained three yards. Senior Chuck Nwokocha, the first-string running back, was sidelined in the first game of the season with an injury. Second- and third-string backs Matt Leiszler, a sophomore, and junior Jared Lewis were injured in the second and third quarters, respectively, leaving Palazzo as the only healthy back remaining for Harvard.
On second-and-7, Rose found Morris for a six-yard gain. For third-and-1 at Harvard's 38-yard line, the Crimson brought in two tight ends and gave the ball to Palazzo, who gained two yards and got the first down.
Harvard spread the field on first down and brought in three wide receivers, keeping Palazzo as the lone back. Palazzo got the ball again and ran for four yards.
Harvard stayed in its spread formation and on second-and-6, Rose dropped back and found Morris for a nine-yard completion. A five-yard minor facemask penalty against Brown was tacked onto the end of the play.
On first-and-10 at the Brown 43-yard line, Harvard came out in a pro set and handed the ball to sophomore Sean Meeker on a reverse. Meeker got some great blocking by Rose and Cremarosa at the point of attack, and Meeker was patient and waited for his teammates to set up their blocks downfield. Meeker evaded tacklers and outran the rest of the Brown defense for a 43-yard touchdown.
Adding the extra point made the score 42-31 Harvard with 8:08 to go in the game. In a little over six minutes the Crimson put together three scoring drives for 21 points and held the high-powered Brown offense scoreless.
Though Brown went on to score one more time in the game, the Crimson defense held the Bears to short gains, and Brown needed over four minutes to get in the end zone, using valuable time.
After Brown kicked off following its score, Harvard ran off the last 3:42 in the game on the strength of three completions--two for first downs--and four tough runs from Palazzo.
"We've lost so many of these sort of games over the last year that it really feels good to win one," Harvard Coach Tim Murphy said.
Murphy said the game was a big win for Harvard, and it could have implications on the championship race. The Crimson is a young team that started six sophomores on offense and eight on defense.
Brown, the co-ivy champion with Yale last year, is considered to be one of the top three teams in the Ivy league and would be a favorite to repeat as champions if an off-season recruiting scandal hadn't prohibited Brown from winning the Ivy crown this season.
The game also did a lot to erase doubts about Harvard after a lackluster performance against Holy Cross last week. Harvard lost that game, 27-25, and looked inept on offense, coughing up the ball five times on three interceptions and two fumbles.
Against Brown, Harvard gained 586 yards of total offense, 436 of them through the air and 150 on the ground.
Defensively, Harvard gave up 542 yards to Brown, but, apart from one 73-yard run by Malan, the Crimson was able to keep the Bears from making big plays on offense.
"You're not going to hold this team to 14 points," Murphy said. "They're a very explosive team on offense."
Harvard was able to execute the game plan that they had going into this season for its offense: spread the field with lots of receivers, establish a high-tempo passing offense and set up the run with the pass.
Defensively, Harvard played with intensity and limited Campbell to only 58 yards on nine catches. The Crimson displayed excellent open-field tackling, something Brown conspicuously lacked, and limited the Brown receivers' yards after the catch.
In the first half, Harvard was unable to do much on offense. Rose threw his only interception of the day when he floated a pass into the back of the end zone, where it was picked off by junior defensive back Melvin Justice.
Webber was able to find senior wide receiver Billy Rackley for the first score of the game with 4:04 to go in the first quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Crimson, Brown drove down to the Harvard nine-yard line and kicked a field goal at the start of the second quarter to put the Bears up 10-0.
Harvard's first points came with 5:25 to go in the half when Jared Lewis found Kyle Cremarosa on a halfback pass for a 24-yard score to cut Brown's lead to 10-7.
On the first play of the next drive, Brown lined up with three wide receivers to the left of the formation and sent Malan on a sweep behind the blocking receivers and a pulling guard. The play went for 73 yards and a touchdown to give Brown a 17-7 lead going into halftime.
Next week, Harvard travels to Lafayette for a non-league game. If Rose and his receivers are as effective as they were in the second half on Saturday, it will be a long game for the Leopards.
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