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NOTEBOOK: Football Moves to 4-0 After Drubbing of Cornell

Red Zone Visits
After an early 3-0 deficit following a Cornell field goal, Harvard found itself in the red zone often, with 10 and 17 points in the second and third quarters, respectively.

In the Crimson’s 40-3 drubbing on Cornell’s home turf, the Harvard offense was humming right along. But that wasn’t the only aspect of the Crimson’s game that got the group to 4-0 on the season.

HARD DAY FOR HAGY

Before Saturday’s contest against Harvard football, Cornell running back Luke Hagy had run roughshod over his last six opponents. In each of those half-dozen games, he had topped 100 yards and ripped off at least one play of 20-plus yards.

But all good things must come to an end. In Hagy’s case, both streaks crashed to a violent halt against the Crimson defense, which held the 204-pound senior to 33 yards on 15 carries. His longest run of the day was a seven-yard dash in the third quarter.

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That starved stat-line validated Harvard’s focus on stopping the ground attack. Again and again during the week of practice, Crimson players had repeated the mantra that in order to beat the Big Red, they would have to stop Hagy.

“Defensively we’ve just continued to play great football,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “Our first defense hasn’t been scored upon in the last three games.”

Shutdown domination began with the first drive, when the defense held Hagy to three yards on four carries. That opening act set the tone, as Hagy finished the first quarter with 14 yards on eight carries and the first half with 23 yards on 12 carries.

For the second weekend in a row, senior linebacker Jacob Lindsey headlined his unit, racking up a game-high seven tackles, two of which were for a loss. He also recorded three of the first four tackles of Hagy.

“Going against what I think is one of the most exceptional O-lines in the country, week in and week out in practice, makes our Saturdays easier,” senior defensive end Dan Moody said.

NO FISCH AT THE C

Crimson fans, used to seeing wide receivers Seitu Smith and Andrew Fischer jog out together and high five before the opening kickoff, may have been distressed to watch Smith trot out without his senior companion on Saturday. But the distress did not last long.

On a weekend when Fischer stayed at home to recuperate an upper-body injury, freshman wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley proved to be a capable replacement. He started alongside Smith, returned kicks and punts, and snagged a 46-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

“I roomed with Seitu,” Shelton-Mosley said. “He’s just given me a whole bunch of information, [telling] me to be natural up there, just like high school. I came out today and just wanted to have fun.”

Midway through the first quarter, Shelton-Mosley had his first bit of fun when he fielded a kickoff at the five-yard-line and raced to the Big Red’s 47. On the next play, senior quarterback Scott Hosch found senior tight end Ben Braunecker for Harvard’s first score.

The going was more difficult in the punt-return game, as the freshman faced off against Cornell’s Chris Fraser, the premier punter in the Ivy League by nearly six yards a kick.

Time and again, Fraser rendered run-backs impossible, sending kicks over Shelton-Mosley’s head or out of bounds near the end zone. But when Shelton-Mosley did field the ball, he made something of the opportunity, earning 39 yards on three attempts.

The impressive outing climaxed with 6:30 left in the third quarter, when Shelton-Mosley ran a slant route down the left sideline and pulled in a 46-yard pass in the end zone.

“He’s just a natural player,” senior defensive back Jordan Becerra said. “You just could tell—really natural with the ball in his hands, runs great routes. He’s very hard to guard in practice.”

Even though Fischer is expected to return this week, Shelton-Mosley will likely continue to play meaningful snaps for the Crimson, as he has all season.

MUCH HOSCH RUSH

Scott Hosch is not a natural rusher. In 2014, when he saw action in 10 games, Hosch finished with 102 yards on the ground—good for an average of 2.3 yards per rush.

But at Schoellkopf Field on Saturday, he certainly looked the part. Seven times he tucked the ball and ran, ending with 78 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.

The peak of his performance came with four minutes left in the third quarter, when Harvard lined up for a first-and-10 on its own 47. After dropping back, Hosch noticed open field on the right and motored forward for 35 yards, a career long.

On the next play, he took a designed run for another 10.

Many of Hosch’s scrambles during the game came as the pocket was collapsing, and the quarterback’s mobility was one of the key reasons why the Crimson left the field without conceding a sack for the fourth straight game.

In 2015, Hosch has already tallied 124 rushing yards, eclipsing his previous 12-game total over the span of his career.

“[I was] stepping up, still keeping my eyes down the field,” Hosch said. “But [I was] seeing a lot of open grass and just taking off.”

—Staff writer Sam Danello can be reached at sdanello@college.harvard.edu.

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