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No. 23 Harvard Football Defeats Dartmouth at Home 17-9, Improves to 6-1

Sophomore wide receiver Cooper Barkate lunges upward for a pass in the Crimson's Oct. 28 game against Darmouth. Harvard pulled out a 17-9 win over the Big Green.
Sophomore wide receiver Cooper Barkate lunges upward for a pass in the Crimson's Oct. 28 game against Darmouth. Harvard pulled out a 17-9 win over the Big Green. By Nicholas T. Jacobsson
By Jack Canavan, Nadia A. Fairfax, and Praveen Kumar, Crimson Staff Writers

The No. 23 Harvard football team (6-1, 3-1) pulled out another Ivy win against Dartmouth (3-4, 2-2) this past Saturday at Harvard Stadium. With the win, the Crimson advanced to 6-1, its best seven-game record since 2016. Harvard also improved its Ivy League record for the year, going 3-2 for the second-straight season and only the second time since 2016.

The Big Green started off punting on the first drive of the game. On the next Crimson possession, Dartmouth intercepted junior quarterback Charles DePrima, turning the ball over to the Big Green once again. Dartmouth senior quarterback Dylan Cadwallader was then given a chance, but the Harvard defense was prepared, when senior safety Kaleb Moody knocked the ball loose from him at second and seven, causing a fumble. Senior defensive tackle Tyler Huenemann then capitalized on the play, recovering the fumble to give the ball back to the Crimson. Three plays later, sophomore quarterback Jaiden Craig rushed into the endzone to bring the score to 7-0.

“I think the first thing is just trusting my coaches,” said Craig about taking his first snap on the field. “It was obviously a tough choice, but you know they made their choice, and all I could was trust my coaches, my O-line, running backs, you know, everybody around me, just made my job easy. All I had to do was piggy back off them.”

With ten seconds left in the first quarter, Dartmouth put points on the board, when Big Green kicker Owen Zalc kicked a 37-yard field goal, ending a seven-play drive that covered 19 yards to bring the score to 7-3. In the second quarter, neither team was able to put any points on the board, keeping the score 7-3 heading into the half.

“Your team shows character when you really struggle,” said head coach Tim Murphy about the game. “I can’t remember the last time we’ve struggled that much as an offense. And the fact that we came back in the second half is very encouraging.”

Junior wide receiver Scott Woods II drives the ball up the field. Harvard improved its record to 6-1, its best seven-game start since 2016.
Junior wide receiver Scott Woods II drives the ball up the field. Harvard improved its record to 6-1, its best seven-game start since 2016. By Nicholas T. Jacobsson

To start off the third quarter, Dartmouth was the first team to score, with a 47 yard field goal from Zalc that brought the score to 7-6 with 5:49 seconds left in the third quarter. Harvard then responded with an 11-play drive, covering 75 yards. The drive ended with a three-yard rushing touchdown from Craig to bring the score to 14-6.

“Run the ball,” said Murphy about the game plan. “We were gonna do it the hard way and play some old-fashioned football.I can say it wasn’t pretty, but it’s the essence of what football used to be and the essence in which you have to have in terms of character.”

Harvard entered the fourth quarter up 14-6. With under 10 minutes left to play, Dartmouth entered the Crimson’s territory. Senior defensive back Phillip Smitherman came up with a huge interception, which set up Harvard for a 13-play, 60-yard drive. Kicker Cali Canaval capped it off with a 22-yard field goal, putting the Crimson up 17-6.

“There’s really no such thing as momentum, just execution,” commented Scott Larkee, the Crimson’s defensive coordinator.

“You just gotta be ready to make some of those special plays and our kids are gritty,” Murphy added. “We always talk about how it all starts up front: the offensive line and the defensive line. It doesn’t matter how good your skill is if you don’t have those guys up front.”

Harvard defensive line gathers on the sideline in its game against Dartmouth last Saturday. For the first time since 2021, the defense didn't allow a single touchdown for the entire game.
Harvard defensive line gathers on the sideline in its game against Dartmouth last Saturday. For the first time since 2021, the defense didn't allow a single touchdown for the entire game. By Ro Dudevoir

Dartmouth responded by marching down the field to an Owen Zalc 35 yard field goal, narrowing Harvard’s lead to 17-9. On the ensuing onside kick, the Crimson held on to the football with 14 seconds left and iced the game. In conclusion, the Harvard defense didn’t allow a touchdown in the entire game for the first time since 2021.

“The defense just kept us in the game,” said junior running back Shane McLaughlin. “To have a defense that backs (the offense) up like that and gets us back on the field gives us an opportunity to win. We owe this win to them for sure.”

The Harvard program also made history, as this win marks Murphy’s 136th Ivy League victory, making him the winningest coach in the history of the Ivy League. He passed Yale’s Head Coach Carm Cozza, with whom he was tied with for conference wins.

Next week, the Crimson will make a trip to the Big Apple to face Columbia (2-5, 0-4) on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. EST. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

— Staff writer Jack Canavan can be reached at jack.canavan@thecrimson.com.

— Staff writer Nadia A. Fairfax can be reached at nadia.fairfax@thecrimson.com.

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