AOTW: Gordon Stomps on Bulldogs in The Game

Raquel Rodriguez

While the Harvard offense was centered on its passing game throughout the season, that all changed on Saturday in the 125th installment of The Game, when sophomore Gino Gordon spearheaded a dominant Crimson running attack with 168 yards on 39 attempts in

In a game of close calls and critical mistakes, there was one consistent presence in the backfield that Harvard could rely on. Sophomore running back Gino Gordon carried the Crimson on his back, rushing for 168 yards on 39 attempts, en route to Harvard’s second straight victory over the Yale Bulldogs and 13th Ivy League Championship. Gordon added two receptions for 19 yards and scored the lone touchdown in the 125th matchup between the heated rivals.

In a gritty affair with high winds and cold temperatures preventing either team from establishing any passing game, both squads knew that whichever team created a strong, foundational running attack would be the victor.

“We knew we were going to have to run the ball,” senior quarterback Chris Pizzotti said. “It’s just a compliment to the offensive line, when the defense knows you’re going to have to run the ball just because of the wind conditions, it’s a huge asset when you have those guys up front coming off the ball and making holes for Gino.”

Gordon knew before the game that he would play a major role in the contest’s final outcome and credited the offensive line for much of his success.

“This week coach challenged us to run the ball,” Gordon said. “He said, ‘if we run the ball well, we’ll win the game.’ Everybody stepped up on the offense, the offensive line, they stepped up, they had huge holes, and I pretty much just ran through them all day.”

The Crimson’s best offensive weapon, who had only 80 carries for 410 yards on the season going into the game, had split his rushing duties with multiple other backs this season before displaying his prowess all over the field on Sunday. Gordon outperformed a potent Yale offense, outgaining the entire Bulldog squad by better than two to one. Yale tailback Mike McLeod, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, was supposed to be the best back on the field, but Gordon proved otherwise, besting his counterpart by over 100 yards and almost 1.5 more yards per carry.

Gordon’s punishing ground attack proved particularly crucial, as Harvard looked to overcome recent struggles with game management.

“[Time of possession] was probably our biggest weakness,” Murphy said after the Penn game last Saturday. “We didn’t do a great job staying on the field offensively enough.”

Gordon did not turn the ball over once and led the Crimson to a dominating hold over the clock. The Elis, who did not get the ball until there were three minutes and twenty-five seconds left in the first quarter, found themselves chasing Harvard the entire game thanks to Gordon’s early touchdown.

“Harvard made some plays, obviously,” Bulldog coach Jack Siedlecki said. “That whole first quarter, with not getting out on the field at all, not running an offensive play in the game until two, three minutes left in the quarter was a very difficult thing.”

Even though Yale knew what was coming, it could not contain the sophomore standout.

“Gordon just made some great cuts today,” Bulldog captain linebacker Bobby Abare said.

The Crimson tailback’s 168 yards marked the best afternoon for a Harvard rusher against Yale in over decade and expanded on an already strong resume in his young career.

In front of a sold out Harvard stadium of 31,398, the running back showed he’s ready to be the cornerstone of the Crimson offense for years to come. With half of the team’s starters graduating, Gordon and the Crimson have a lot of work ahead of them if they expect to continue their dominance. With two rings in two years, Gordon knows what it’s going to take to stay atop the Ivy League.