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Colton Chapple did not know that he was definitely playing until right before kickoff of Friday night’s Ivy home opener against Brown.
The junior quarterback hadn’t officially heard the status of senior Collier Winters, who had suffered a hamstring injury at the end of the Crimson’s loss at Holy Cross a week earlier.
But with the oft-injured Winters listed as a game-time decision, Chapple knew he had to be prepared.
By the end of the game Saturday night, it was the Bears defense that proved insufficiently ready, as Chapple threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns to lead Harvard to a 24-7 win and prevent his team from losing two consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
“Being a backup, you’ve always got to be ready, because you never know when you’re going to go in,” Chapple said. “Unfortunately, Collier went down, and I had to step up.”
Last season, the Georgia native appeared in nine contests, but completed just 47 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions to go with three touchdowns.
But under the lights Friday at the Stadium, the junior was much more efficient, completing 58 percent of his throws—including 9-of-13 to start—despite being plagued by multiple rain-induced drops.
Chapple’s only interception went right through his intended receiver’s hands, and he threw two picture-perfect touchdowns. On the first, the junior placed a touch pass over two defenders to sophomore tight end Cameron Brate, putting the ball where only Brate could catch it—which the sophomore did, with a fancy one-handed grab as he steamrolled towards the end zone. On the second, Chapple released an accurate deep ball to senior wide receiver Adam Chrissis, hitting the senior in stride along the right sideline for a 56-yard score midway through the third quarter.
“No one loves to play the game of football more than Collier,” Chapple said. “You see that intensity—that’s why he gets hurt all the time, he plays so hard ... Collier’s a great leader. You can’t replace Collier.”
But should Winters need to miss time again, the junior proved that his squad can be confident not just in his ability to manage a game, but also to win.
SCALING TO NEW HEIGHTS
Chapple’s job was made easier by a breakout performance from junior running back Treavor Scales, who exploded against the Bears after managing just 68 yards against the Crusaders.
Playing behind a young but improving offensive line, Scales continued to find holes and pickup big gains all night. The junior started the game’s scoring with a one-yard touchdown run 9:48 into the first quarter, and finished the period with 54 yards on eight carries. He had eclipsed the century-mark just eight carries later—his fourth career hundred-yard game—and finished with 129 yards rushing overall.
Just as Chapple proved himself an able backup for Winters, Scales established himself as a capable full-time back, a role he moved into following the departure of 2010 Ivy League co-Player of the Year Gino Gordon ’11.
“Treav, along with the offensive line, did a great job tonight,” Chapple said. “They opened up some holes for him, Treavor ran the ball extremely hard, and that opened up the play-action passing game and got the defense back on their heels.”
TURNING THE TIDE
If someone was playing Ivy League fantasy football this week and owned the Harvard defense, he or she would have been quite pleased with the unit’s performance against Brown. The Crimson applied pressure to Bears QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero all evening, forcing rushed throws and picking up 10 QB hits and five tackles for loss.
“The guys up front did a great job,” captain Alex Gedeon said. “We didn’t blitz all that much tonight ... but guys came in, stepped up and got pressure.”
That pressure inevitably led to turnovers, as Harvard forced two interceptions and recovered three costly fumbles on the night.
Brown running back Marc Kachmar lost the ball twice, once as Brown was driving towards midfield early in the second quarter and later at the one-yard line when the Bears were on the verge of tying up the game.
“[The turnovers] took away all the momentum we had in the second half,” Brown coach Phil Estes said. “We just squandered too many opportunities ... it’s something we’ve got to fix.”
Junior defensive end John Lyon forced a Newhall-Caballero fumble as the Bears were attempting to get back the contest midway through the fourth quarter, leading to a Crimson field goal. On Brown’s next drive, sophomore end Jake Boy hit Newhall-Caballero while he was in the process of throwing, and junior linebacker Bobby Schneider grabbed the ball out of the air for the interception to all but seal the deal for the Crimson.
It was Newhall-Caballero’s second pick of the game. His first was snagged by senior safety Dan Minamide in the Harvard end zone on a third-and-goal early in the second quarter.
“Our kids just played so hard, and if you play that hard, you can force some turnovers, and you have the chance to be in every single game,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “I’m really proud of our kids.”
—Staff writer Scott A. Sherman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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