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NOTEBOOK: For Once, Ground Game Proves Crucial

By Scott A. Sherman, Crimson Staff Writer

The 2011 Harvard football team continues to do things that no Crimson squad has done in a very long time.

For the past few weeks, it was an extraordinary passing game that led Harvard to wins.

Junior Colton Chapple and senior Collier Winters tied the Crimson all-time record, set in 1953, with back-to-back games of five touchdown passes. During that period, Chapple (against Cornell) and Winters (against Princeton) became the third and fourth Crimson quarterbacks to ever throw for over 400 yards in a contest. And last week, Winters’ 34 completions were second-most in Harvard’s history.

Amid heavy snowfall at Harvard Stadium during Saturday night’s game against Dartmouth, the Crimson passing game was limited to just 13 attempts.

But that didn’t matter one bit, as Harvard was still able to put together a dominant offensive performance by taking to the ground, rushing for 395 yards and continuing to break records in the squad’s 41-10 win.

Winters, junior running back Treavor Scales, and freshman running back Zach Boden each gained over 100 yards on the ground against the Big Green, helping the Crimson score at least 40 points in four straight contests for the first time since 1890.

It was the first time Harvard has ever had three players rush for at least 100 yards in a game. Each also scored two touchdowns.

Scales finished with 139 yards, a career high, on just 18 carries. It was he who set the tone early, finding a hole between left guard and left tackle and busting loose on a 42-yard scamper on Harvard’s first possession. That would set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Winters, who stutter-stepped through a big hole up the middle on his way to the end zone.

“Our offensive line did a fantastic job,” Winters said. “We knew coming in with the weather we were going to have to rush the ball, and we were able to do that.”

Later in the opening period, Harvard got great field position at the Dartmouth 44 after a 43-yard kick return by freshman Seitu Smith III. From there, Boden did the rest, breaking off successive carries of 20, 13, and 8 yards, the final for a touchdown.

On the second of those carries, the rookie took a huge hit at the 15 but bounced right off, then broke another tackle on his way to the 10.

“His feet just keep moving,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said of Boden, who finished with 112 yards on 15 carries. “He has great vision, he can make violent cuts, he has very good speed and the combination of those things makes a legitimate running back. We’re very fortunate to have a guy like that in our offense.”

On Harvard’s next drive, the Crimson went 99 yards in 15 plays despite only completing two passes. The rest of the yardage was picked up by the trio of Winters, Boden, and Scales, the latter of whom capped the series with a one-yard score.

In Harvard’s opening possession of the third quarter, the Crimson went up, 27-3, with a 77-yard series that was capped by a 17-yard Boden scamper and a Winters four-yard score. Just minutes later, it was Boden breaking a tackle on his way to a seven-yard touchdown.

Finally, early in the fourth, the Crimson went 95 yards in 15 plays, highlighted by Winters rushes of 15, 29, and 12 yards and capped with a Scales one-yard touchdown. The Harvard quarterback finished with 126 yards on 15 attempts, finding enormous holes in the Dartmouth defense to scramble through all night.

“We knew coming in [that Winters] could beat us,” Dartmouth linebacker Bronson Green said. “We gave him some big lanes, we didn’t compress the pile on him, and we didn’t make tackles when we needed to.”


Coming in, it was supposed to be the Big Green that dominated on the ground.

Dartmouth features running back Nick Schweiger, the reigning Ivy League co-Player of the Year, who came into the contest as the Ancient Eight’s leading rusher with 708 yards and seven touchdowns through six games.

The senior had picked up 100 yards in five of those six contests, including 125 against a strong Penn defense and 157 last weekend against Columbia.

But a swarming Crimson front seven was able to contain Schweiger all night, forcing him outside the tackles and holding the running back to just 51 yards on 3.4 yards per carry.

“Their front four is tough,” Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens said. “They’re physical up front, and they contained us. The run game was ineffective.”

It was the second consecutive year the Crimson handled Schweiger, as Harvard held him to just 69 yards in its 30-14 win a year ago.

“Schweiger’s the best back in the league numbers-wise,” junior defensive tackle Nnamdi Obukwelu said. “We just played hard all game with a pretty simple game plan [to stop him] ... Guys stayed in their gaps.”


With the win, Murphy tied former Crimson coach Joe Restic for the most victories in program history, with 117.

Murphy accomplished the feat in his 18th season, while it took Restic—whom Murphy replaced in 1993—23 years to win the same number of games.

“To just be mentioned in the same sentence as Coach Restic is a source of pride,” Murphy said. “I’ve always admired and respected Joe—he’s a man’s man, a class act, a very humble guy and just an outstanding football coach.”

Murphy can break the record next weekend when the Crimson takes on Columbia in New York City.

—Staff writer Scott A. Sherman can be reached at

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