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NOTEBOOK: Winters Impresses in Final Game

By E. Benjamin Samuels, Crimson Staff Writer

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Senior quarterback Collier Winters missed four of the first five games this season.

But in just six starts, he has somehow managed to put himself in the running for Ivy League Player of the Year.

Winters had another strong performance in the final appearance of his collegiate career, throwing three touchdowns—two passes, one run—in Harvard’s blowout 45-7 win over the Bulldogs in the 128th playing of The Game. It was the third time in the last five games that Winters threw for at least 300 yards passing.

Set up by a 29-yard run from freshman running back Zach Boden—a favorite to win Ivy League Rookie of the Year—Winters ran it in from four yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with just under four minutes in the first quarter.

After Yale fumbled on its next drive, Harvard regained possession on its own 43-yard line. Three seconds into the second quarter, Winters hit senior wide receiver Alex Sarkisian over the middle to give Harvard a 14-7 advantage. The Crimson never trailed again and had a 24-7 lead by halftime.

“I think that most of the credit for our passing game goes to the offensive line,” Sarkisian said. “They gave Collier time to sit back there and make decisions—he makes great decisions—and the offense can really run smoothly.”

Even in just six games, Winters is in the conversation for Ivy Player of the Year. The red-shirt senior completed almost 70 percent of his passes and averaged just over 265 yards per game. Winters scored 20 touchdowns in 2011—13 in the air, seven on the ground—to lead Harvard to its most prolific offensive season in the modern era.

Winters scored more touchdowns this year than the entire Princeton team.


Harvard has won nine straight games, and not many of them have been close.

After falling behind early, Harvard won The Game by a 38-point margin, the largest defeat for either team since 1982, when the Crimson beat the Bulldogs by an identical 45-7 total.

No one has won by a margin greater than that since 1957, when Yale won in New Haven, 54-0.

In its last nine games, Harvard has made a habit of easy wins. In addition to setting the program’s scoring record, the Crimson also held opponents to single-digit totals four times this season.

“This group is really, one, extremely coachable,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “Two, very, very selfless. The team chemistry on this team was really exceptional. The kids really cared about each other, respected each other.”

After the Crimson suffered what would be its only loss against Holy Cross in the first week of the season, Harvard followed up with back-to-back performances that kept opponents in the single digits, first against Brown and then at Lafayette.

The strong defensive effort all year wasn’t always in full force. The team had a number of games when it struggled, including a 41-31 win over Cornell and 56-39 victory over Princeton two weeks later.

Even in the last three weeks, the Crimson has trailed in all three games. But Harvard still managed to win those contests against Columbia, Penn, and Yale by a combined margin of 117-48.

“[Saturday] was such a balanced effort,” Murphy said. “Really got a great effort from and execution out of our special teams, and defensively, the last two weeks, those are probably the best back-to-back defensive games we’ve played in a long time.”

After one successful drive from Bulldog quarterback Patrick Witt in the first quarter, Harvard shut down the former Rhodes Scholarship finalist. Witt was intercepted three times, and Yale never got closer to the Crimson end zone than the 30-yard line in the second half.


In a two-week period, senior defensive tackle Josue Ortiz has earned and presented two different rings.

Against Penn, Ortiz led the team with 10 tackles and two sacks to help Harvard clinch the Ancient Eight title outright.

And this week, he made big news—and SportsCenter—when he proposed to his girlfriend, Kayci Baldwin’14, at the end of the game.

It may be his most memorable moment in a Harvard football uniform, but it might not be his most impressive. Ortiz capped his career with a sack in Saturday’s game, his 10th this season—meeting his preseason goal—bolstering his candidacy for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.

Senior defensive tackle Matt Lunati was second on the team in sacks with 2.5.

Ortiz is one of a handful of current Crimson seniors attracting NFL attention, though the defensive tackle only came onto the scene after a breakout 2010. Throughout this season, Ortiz was regularly double-teamed but still finished the year leading the league in sacks. He fell just short of breaking the all-time single-season sacks record for Harvard.

“It’s been great. For me and Josue, for five years we’ve been able to beat Yale,” Winters said. “It’s been awesome, and a great way to go out and to go out on top for us.”

—Staff writer E. Benjamin Samuels can be reached at

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