THE BOOK OF SAMUELS: Crimson Lets Perfection Slip Away

The Book of Samuels

For the past year and a half or so, no school has tormented Harvard sports quite like the Princeton Tigers.

Doug Davis hitting that are-you-kidding-me shot with 2.8 seconds left in the one-game playoff to end the Harvard men’s basketball team’s 2011 Tournament chances. That 70-62 victory to finish the team’s stretch in the top 25 last season.

And now, this.

Down 20-0 at halftime, the Princeton football team completed a stunning, jaw-dropping, mouth-wide-open-and-hands-on-your-head comeback to pull off a giant 39-34 upset over the Crimson.

In doing so, the longest winning streak in Division I football came to an abrupt and climactic end.

That magical run that began over a year ago on a rainy Friday night at Harvard Stadium with a 24-7 victory over Brown, brought the Crimson to the pinnacle of Ivy League play, saw Harvard break its program modern-era points record, unraveled in a matter of minutes. A streak over a year in the making disintegrated in a single fourth quarter.

The whole ordeal on Saturday seemed strangely out of place. It was the villain finally getting the best of Bond, the Jordan buzzer-beater clanking out. Things that just aren’t supposed to happen.

But of course, all streaks have to end eventually. And with the end of this one, all thoughts of a perfect season, all comparisons to that undefeated 2004 team led by Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 and Co., went the way of the Hindenburg.

But for Crimson fans, it’s an even tougher fate to swallow for one simple reason: Harvard, unquestionably, should have won this game.

When your quarterback—senior Colton Chapple—throws for 448 yards and five touchdowns, breaking one program record and tying another, you shouldn’t lose.

When one receiver alone—senior Kyle Juszczyk—has three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards on 15 receptions, you shouldn’t lose.

When at halftime, you have a 20-point lead and have held the opposition to 51 total yards while tallying 415 of your own, you shouldn’t lose.

And when you have a 16-point edge with 11 minutes left and the other team’s fans are leaving, abandoning the game as a lost cause, you definitely shouldn’t lose.

Worse yet, the Crimson was the better team, plain and simple. Even Princeton coach Bob Surace acknowledged that.

“They’re the best team in the league by far, and we had a few good breaks go our way....There’s a reason they won 14 in a row,” Surace said.