Harvard football has matched up against Georgetown each of the last three seasons. In each contest, the Crimson took sizable halftime leads—all of them at least 17 points.
In 2014, it was a patented Harvard road win, 34-3, featuring 558 yards of total offense for the Crimson. The next season, an unfair 45-0 knockout. Last year, a closer, but not too close, 31-17 victory.
Recently, the Hoyas have not fared too well either in the nation’s capital or up north in Boston.
That being said, any Division I team can win on any given Saturday, and Georgetown will attempt to do just that this week at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
“I certainly have respect that they’re a well-coached team,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “You can see that in all phases. I certainly respect that they have some really outstanding athletes, especially on the defensive side of the ball, especially on their defensive line and their secondary.”
So far, the Hoyas’ defense has shown the flashes of brilliance that Murphy mentions, at least in its first two games. Before conceding 35 points to Columbia, Georgetown allowed 10 and 14 points in their first two showings, respectively.
Defending against the run appears to be the Hoyas’ hallmark—in the first two weeks, opponents Campbell and Marist only mustered 118 combined rushing yards.
The Crimson’s ball carriers will face a tall task on Saturday. However, Murphy can turn to a multitude of versatile backs to combat differing defensive schemes. Junior Charlie Booker is the primary man out of the backfield, but junior Noah Reimers, sophomore Lavance Northington, and freshman Aaron Shampklin all provide consistent support.
Though Georgetown has proven itself much more on the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive back Tim Haehl cautions against underestimating the Hoyas’ offense.
“They always have a few up and down seasons, and we’ve done really well with them the past three years,” Haehl said. “But they’ve got a really talented wide receiver [Michael Dereus], and then their quarterback [Tim Barnes] has been pretty good the last two years.”
Dereus, a sophomore from Hyde Park, Mass., has racked up 312 yards in just three games this season. His 22.3 yards-per-catch and three touchdowns both lead the Hoyas. As for Barnes, the veteran struggled against Harvard in 2016, only completing six out of 16 pass attempts. He began as the starter this season, but last game he split time with junior Clay Norris.
Georgetown is not the only team with its quarterback spot up in the air, however. Harvard freshman Jake Smith started against Brown, only to be replaced by senior Joe Viviano in the second quarter, and only to return in the fourth.
Each signal caller saw positive results last week, and Murphy is keeping his options open for the near future.
“We’re happy with our quarterback situation,” Murphy said. “Right now it’s a very good competition between a freshman and a fifth-year senior, but we expect either guy could help us win football games.”
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