Fog hung over the nearby White Mountains, and the temperature hovered just above 40 degrees as rain started to steadily cascade down onto Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H.
These conditions, paired with the memory of a gritty 14-13 showdown between Harvard and Dartmouth a year ago, pointed toward a similarly low-scoring game.
However, in a matchup that seemed destined to be defined by defense, both teams’ offensive attacks shone through as the deciding factors in the Crimson’s 23-21 triumph over the Big Green.
The returns of junior running back Semar Smith, his sophomore backfield counterpart Charlie Booker, and sophomore wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley gave Murphy a myriad of options offensively against Dartmouth.
Harvard recorded 206 yards through the air to go along with 199 yards on the ground. However, the offense was slightly more run-heavy than the yardage would make it seem. The Crimson ran the ball 48 times and threw the other 30 plays.
“Obviously, we balanced the offense today,” Murphy said. “Being able to run the football obviously takes the pressure off the passing game.”
The balanced offense seemed to work well, especially with a solid performance from the offensive line. Senior quarterback Joe Viviano was not sacked once, and he had ample time in the pocket to find his receivers or decide to keep the ball and pick up yards on the ground. Viviano was intercepted once, but this was Harvard’s only turnover.
A TALE OF TWO QUARTERBACKS
The Big Green has played like two completely different teams in conference and nonconference play this year.
It is an understatement to say that Dartmouth has struggled against its Ancient Eight counterparts, as it has yet to win an Ivy League game in four attempts.
In three nonconference contests, the Big Green is undefeated and has outscored its opponents, 77-48. These wins include a 35-10 rout of a Holy Cross team that beat Harvard and a 22-21 victory over No. 22 New Hampshire.
The team’s poor record in Ivy League games led Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens to make a switch at quarterback in hopes of sparking the offense against Harvard. Teevens went with sophomore Bruce Dixon IV over incumbent starter Jack Heneghan, a junior.
“I’m just a small part of Dartmouth football, so I need to listen to what our decisions are and do my best in whatever role that may be,” Heneghan said. “It was frustrating, but I looked at it as another chance for me to keep growing.”