Offensive Line Helps Crimson to First Ivy Win

All Business
Steven A Soto

The Harvard offensive line, shown here in a photo taken for the 2012 Crimson Sports Football Supplement, pushed the undefeated Harvard football team to its first conference victory at Brown on Saturday, clearing the way for senior quarterback Colton Chapple (front) to throw for 351 yards.

Although not as well known as the offensive skill players they protect—senior quarterback Colton Chapple and senior running back Treavor Scales—the offensive line put together its best game of the season Saturday to lead the Harvard football team (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) to a 45-31 victory over Brown (1-1, 0-1 Ivy).

The line routinely opened up large holes for Scales to run through during his 136 yard, four-touchdown day.

“When the guys up front are opening up holes as wide as an 18-wheeler, it’s phenomenal,” Scales said. “I love those boys to death and they keep doing it for me.”

The line—led by seniors Jack Holuba and John Collins, junior Austin Scheufele, and sophomores Anthony Fabiano and Will Whitman—allowed only one sack on the day and consistently gave Chapple time to throw as he put up 351 yards through the air on 30 completions in 40 attempts.

“The line played extremely well [against Brown],” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said after the game. “A year ago, we had four new starters, including a freshman and two sophomores and now it seems like a luxury to have four of the five starters [back this year]. It was a credit to the offensive line the way we could throw and run the ball tonight.”

After committing six penalties in week one, the line didn’t commit a single one on Saturday. The group enabled Scales to rush for 7.6 yards-a-carry against a defense that only allowed 3.2 yards per rush to Holy Cross the week before.

Holuba and co. helped Harvard rack up 183 total rushing yards against the Bears, nearly double the 92 the Crusaders managed the week before.

“We are one of the hardest working groups around,” Holuba said. “We had a great game plan coming in. You only need to block for a little bit when you have guys like Treavor going and making plays like that—makes us look good.”

The highlight of the afternoon was Scales’ 41-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, when he burst through a hole in the line, made a cut that left a Bear defender diving at his shoestrings, and strolled untouched into the end zone.

That touchdown put the Crimson up 14 points, and Brown never got closer than that during the remainder of the game.

“If my boys get up to the second level, I have to get there,” Scales said. “You want those guys to reap the benefits of the work they put in all week and they put in on that play. It makes it easy on me. I don’t have to do much work at all. I just have to run. They are a heck of a group up there.”

As the game went on, the Harvard line led the offense to more and more success.

After scoring only 17 points in the first half, the Crimson scored 28 points in the second to break the game wide open. Harvard scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to turn its narrow seven-point lead after the third quarter into a 21-point advantage when Scales ran in his fourth touchdown of the day with four minutes left.

“We have the ability to run it and throw it and wear down the defense as the game goes on,” Holuba said. “As hard as Treavor hits the holes, he’s bound to bust a big one here or there.”

On another crucial play, the line cleared out a pocket for Chapple and gave him time to deliver a 30-yard strike to sophomore wideout Seitu Smith II, who leaped over Brown’s preseason FCS All-American cornerback AJ Cruz to grab the ball out of the air.

The touchdown put Harvard up 10 and capped a run of seventeen straight points after Brown drove the ball down the field on the opening drive and scored on a one-yard plunge by Spiro Theodhosi.

“We had called a play hoping to get zone coverage, and it turns out they went man,” Chapple said. “Cruz is one of the best corners in this league so to see Seitu go up and take the ball out of the air—that was awesome. Having those types of weapons where you can throw the ball and come down with a thirty-yard touchdown, it’s a huge momentum shift.”