For the second consecutive year, Princeton football was outmatched by longtime rival Harvard. Competing on Boston’s Soldiers Field, the No. 15 Crimson (6-0 overall, 3-0 Ivy League) managed 42 points, including three unanswered third-quarter touchdowns, against the Tigers (4-2, 1-2), whose lone score came on a pass from sophomore quarterback John Lovett to fellow sophomore signal caller Nick Peabody.
The gridiron rivalry between these teams stretches back to 1877. Princeton currently holds an all-time series lead of 54-47-7.
The game’s first play seemed to hold a great deal of promise for the visitors. Harvard returner Andrew Fischer received senior Nolan Bieck’s kick before reversing the ball to teammate Justice Shelton-Mosely. Shelton-Mosely fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Princeton senior defensive back Max Lescano. Although taking over on the 50-yard line, the Tigers’ offense was unable to capitalize on the early opportunity due in part to consecutive false start and holding penalties.
Princeton suffered a further disadvantage on that opening drive. Senior wide receiver Seth DeValve, having only just returned to action, suffered an injury that would keep him out of the contest’s remainder. His absence along with that of senior running back DiAndre Atwater has dampened the dynamism of Princeton’s offense.
Through 15 minutes of play, the scoreboard remained static at 0-0. Just under two minutes into the second quarter, Harvard's Scott Hosch punctuated a 67-yard drive with a touchdown run. Princeton’s offense responded with their best effort of the game—the Lovett-Peabody connection came at the end of an 11-play, 70-yard drive—while the Orange and Black defense held strong by denying a fourth-down conversion and forcing a three-and-out in consecutive outings.
The Tigers were not able to maintain this stout form after that point. Five consecutive Harvard drives ended in touchdowns. On the day, the Crimson offense tallied a prolific 647 yards compared with the 293 yards of the visitors.
Facing a deficit of 35-7 with the third quarter coming to a close, Princeton began a drive under some pressure. Junior quarterback Chad Kanoff, the Tigers’ starter, connected with Lovett on a 44-yard strike to get within the Harvard red zone. An untimely holding penalty, however, put Princeton in a difficult first-and-17. Kanoff dropped back on third down, faced pressure from Harvard’s pass rush and threw an interception to Harvard’s Asante Gibson in the back of the end zone.
The Crimson moved the ball with efficiency on the ensuing drive before Seitu Smith’s three-yard touchdown run effectively finalized the 42-7 result. Both teams managed only a single first down during the game’s final 11 minutes.
Superior play on both the offensive and defensive line proved to be one of key factors in Harvard’s win. Strong protection allowed Hosch, the Crimson’s senior signal caller, to lead a passing attack that averaged 10.6 yards per attempt and saw two 100-plus yard receiving efforts—junior defensive back Samuel Huffman managed the game’s lone sack on a first quarter fourth down. On the other side of the ball, Princeton’s ground attack proved ineffective against a solid defensive front, averaging just 2.2 yards per carry.
Ivy champions in 2014, the league-leading Crimson have had a red hot start to their title-defense. Hosch and company have averaged an untouchable 43.8 points per game while the defense has allowed an average of 7.8 points per contest. Their next contest, aFridaynight matchup with likewise undefeated Dartmouth, will be an important test for both teams.
The Tigers, on the other hand, have had some difficulties establishing an offensive rhythm against their league opponents. Next week’s matchup with Cornell, which has amassed a 0-6 record, should allow the Orange and Black to hone their efforts in anticipation of the final stretch of Ivy League play.