Special teams miscues and breakdowns on both sides of the ball led the Princeton football team to a 37-3 loss at Harvard during a rainy Saturday afternoon in Cambridge.
The loss leaves Princeton at 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the league, while Harvard is now 4-2 overall, 3-0 in Ivy play. Princeton will look to get into the Ivy League win column next Saturday when it hosts Cornell at 1 p.m. on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.
The offense struggled to get in gear throughout the game. Sophomore quarterback Tommy Wornham completed 15 of 27 passes for 110 yards, although two of his longest passes came on Princeton’s first drive, which ended in a field goal. Tight end Harry Flaherty had the best game of his career with five catches for 47 yards, while fullback Matt Zimmerman caught five passes for 24 yards.
The running game couldn’t get any sort of momentum, as freshman Akil Sharp ended up with a team-best 21 yards on seven carries.
Senior Dan Kopolovich led Princeton with 12 tackles, while Andrew Starks, Peter Yorck and Steven Cody each recorded nine tackles apiece. Cody, the Ivy League leader in tackles, added two sacks, while both Matt Boyer and Mark Ethridge also added a sack. Cart Kelly and John Callahan each recorded an interception in the contest.
Harvard got on the board first with a play that evoked bad memories from last week’s loss to Brown. After stopping the Crimson on two short runs, the Tiger defense was looking for a 3-and-out on Harvard’s first drive. Instead, Collier Winters launched a deep throw to Chris Lorditch, who ran a double move down the home sideline and caught the perfect toss a step ahead of the Princeton safety. Lorditch caught the ball in stride and scored untouched for a 77-yard touchdown.
The Princeton offense immediately went on the move during its first possession, with long passes to Zimmerman and Andrew Kerr helping move the ball to the 10. The 19-yard pass to Kerr came on third-and-10, a middle post that Kerr caught in traffic, set up a screen pass to Zimmerman to get the ball to the 2. Senior Ben Bologna hit from 19 yards to make the score 7-3 with 9:20 left in the first quarter.
A clipping penalty stalled Harvard’s second drive, and Princeton drove to the 45 before a delay of game and a pass breakup forced a punt. A low snap bounced short of punter Joe Cloud, who couldn’t collect it and had to sprint back towards his end zone. His attempt to scoop and kick was thwarted when Cloud was tackled by an onrushing Crimson defender. One play later, the first of the second quarter, Winters hit Kyle Juszczyk for a three-yard touchdown.
The lead grew to 21-3 midway through the second quarter, as Harvard went on a 9-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown run for Collier Winters. A 10-yard sack by Cody and Ethridge seemed to derail the drive, but a crushing 15-yard draw run by Gino Gordon on 3rd-and-15 kept the scoring drive alive.
Harvard threatened to make it 28-3 before the half by driving to the Princeton 5, but a quarterback hit by Joel Karacozoff knocked Winters’ pass badly off course; linebacker John Callahan recorded an easy interception in the end zone to keep the score 21-3, albeit briefly. Special teams bit Princeton again, as another low snap caused Cloud some troubles. The delay in the punt gave Alex Gedeon a chance to block the kick and recover it at the 19. The play allowed Harvard to tack on a 23-yard field goal by Patrick Long to make the score 24-3 at the half.
An early Princeton fumble in the third quarter ended one chance to cut into the deficit, and Harvard followed later in the quarter with an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. It ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Gino Gordon, which built the Crimson lead to 31-3. Ho would add another three-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to build that lead to 37-3.
Princeton will take on Cornell at 1 p.m. Saturday in a rivalry that has produced several classics this decade. Each of the last two games, both Tiger wins, have not been decided until the final seconds. Tickets are still available and can be purchased on GoPrincetonTigers.com.