UPDATED: September 27, 2015, at 12:06 a.m.
In its first-ever matchup with Brown in 1893, the Harvard football team scored 58 points to shut out the Bears. For 122 years, that remained the highest the Crimson has run up the score against Brown.
On Saturday night, the 2015 squad gave the 19th century team a run for its money.
In a complete dismantling of Brown (0-2, 0-1 Ivy) in all facets of the game, the Crimson (2-0, 1-0) unveiled new black jerseys and extended its winning streak to 16, topping the visiting Bears on Saturday night under the lights of Harvard Stadium, 53-27.
“I can’t remember being in a game like this against Brown,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “It was just one of those days where we got on a roll, and everything seemed to go right and conversely just the opposite with Brown tonight. Just one of those nights.”
Already in a seven-point hole early in the first half, Bears quarterback Marcus Fuller backpedaled in the pocket, looking for a way out of a third-and-long situation. No sooner had Fuller dropped back than a black jersey shot out from his blind side, taking the quarterback down. The ball came flying out of Fuller’s hand, and another black jersey scooped it up and danced into the end zone. Fifty-eight seconds after Harvard’s offense got onto the scoreboard, the defense had tacked on another six points.
That time, it was senior corner Sean Ahern and linebacker Jake Lindsey causing problems for Fuller. Three possessions later—Brown now facing a 23-point deficit—it was senior corner Asante Gibson, who picked off Fuller’s ball and returned it inside the Bears’ 10.
Everywhere Fuller tried to go with the ball Saturday night, whether it was to running back Andrew Coke or to one of his receivers, there was a Harvard defender there. Matters became worse for Brown after Coke left the field limping in the second quarter.
In an effort to inject life into Brown’s sputtering offense when Fuller’s first seven passes yielded just six yards, coach Phil Estes turned to backup Kyle Moreno early in the second quarter. After the Bears failed to get a first down for the first 21 minutes of the game, Moreno managed to move the visitors all the way to the Harvard three-yard line.
Brown suddenly appeared poised to make a dent in the 30-point lead. But when both of Moreno’s passes into the end zone on third and fourth down were batted away, the Bears went into the half still scoreless.
It seemed that each time Brown was in a position to mount a comeback, something would go wrong. On the Bears’ first drive coming out of the half, Moreno connected with receiver Garrett Swanky twice, first converting on a third-and-14 and again to move the visitors into Harvard territory. But a first down in field goal range turned into a fourth-and-50 after a botched snap and unsportsmanlike conduct flag. Seconds later, the ball flew over the punter’s head on the long snap, and Brown gifted Harvard two more points.
The Bears caught a break when the Crimson punt returners failed to recover the free kick following the safety. But on the very first play of the ensuing drive, Moreno’s botched handoff to fullback Seth Rosenbauer ended up in senior defensive end James Duberg’s arms. Brown would not find the scoreboard until midway through the third quarter.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like that, where everything that could go wrong went wrong,” Estes said.
The Bears defense did not fare much better than their offense, as Harvard’s attack looked polished and dominant throughout. On the Crimson’s second drive of the game, senior quarterback Scott Hosch fired to sophomore tight end Jack Stansell, who snagged the ball on the goal line and fell into the end zone for the first score of the game.
Hosch, who played only the first half after Harvard entered the break with a 37-0 lead, appeared more comfortable under center, scrambling free from pressure and showing off his mobility. The senior ended his day with 151 yards in the air and three touchdowns before being relieved by backup Jimmy Meyer in the third quarter.
Senior running back Paul Stanton spearheaded the Crimson’s rushing attack with 89 yards on the ground and a score. The touchdown was Stanton’s 29th, putting him at second on Harvard's all-time scoring list.
Not all 53 points came from the Crimson’s offense and defense, as the special teams put on a show as well. Sophomore defensive back Zach Miller blocked a punt late in the first quarter to give Harvard its first safety of the night, and senior defensive tackle James Duberg swatted away a point-after attempt following Brown’s first score.
Moreno finished with 307 yards passing, two touchdowns, and another two scores on the ground, though most of his 27 points came against the Crimson’s second-string defense.
—Staff writer Samantha Lin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.