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Running on empty

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Crimson defense denies rushing game to secure 24-7 win over Columbia

Committing 14 penalties for a loss of nearly 100 yards against a team playing their best football of the season is hardly a formula for success. Luckily for the only recently careless Crimson, the team’s defensive corps stuck to the script – shut down the running game – with spectacular results. And for that (along with four forced fumbles), the Crimson got away with a 24-7 victory against visiting Columbia this past Saturday (Nov. 4) at the stadium.

All told, the Division I-AA league-leading Harvard defense (tops in rushing defense, sacks, and tackles for a loss) held the Lions to negative 14 yards rushing, while collecting four sacks for a loss of 28 yards and the aforementioned fumbles. Such stingy play went a long way in balancing out Columbia’s deft aerial display. The Lions amassed 320 net yards passing: 45 yards shy of Harvard’s total offensive output on the afternoon.

Punt returner Steven Williams '08 eludes a Columbia Lion.

Columbia got on board first with just over three minutes remaining in the opening quarter when quarterback Craig Hormann connected with a lone Lion receiver in the end zone for a 22-yard reception. In the early going of the second stanza, Harvard scored the equalizer after senior tailback Clifton Dawson’s three-play drive culminated in a 9-yard touchdown run. With 1:32 remaining in the half, the Crimson tallied the go-ahead touchdown when junior play-caller Liam O’Hagan spotted senior Corey Mazza for a 29-yard touchdown pass.

Up 14-7 in the new half, the Crimson quickly capitalized on a forced fumble and recovery (by sophomores Eric Schultz and Carl Ehrlich, respectively). On the Harvard 12-yard line following a six-play, 34-yard drive, Dawson wove through a series of Lion defenders and into the end zone to extend the home team’s advantage, 21-7 (following the extra point). Dawson’s second TD of the day bumped up his previously broken league mark for rushing touchdowns (now 59). On the subject of records, Matt Schindel’s 36-yard field goal at 12:52 of the final quarter (which set up the 24-7 final), marked the junior’s 28th career FG – bettering the Crimson program’s previous best of 27.

Harvard improves to 7-1 overall (4-1 Ivy) with the win and are assured of at least a share of the league title if they can defeat host Penn (Nov. 11) and a traveling Yale team (Nov. 18). For the latest scores and updates, visit http://www.gocrimson.com.