Friday, October 16, 2009

Crimson Football Hopes to "Give Her Ten" on Head of the Charles Weekend

This Week's Video: Fan-made Head of the Charles (2007) Celebration

Tomorrow afternoon marks the third and final non-conference game for the Harvard Crimson (3-1, 1-0 Ivy), as they look to build on a three game winning streak in their game against the Lafayette Leopards (4-1, 1-0 Patriot). The game marks the beginning of a three game homestand for the Johnnies, after two straight on the road. The Leopards are playing their fourth Ivy League opponent in a row and are undefeated against the Ancient Eight, having beaten Penn (20-17 OT), Yale (31-14), and Columbia (24-21). The weather report is that it will be chilly and there's the possibility of rain, so conditions might favor the run for these two teams.

Last week for the Harvard Crimson, it was the odyssey to Ithaca, as the team traveled to upstate New York to take on Ancient Eight foe Cornell (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) in a battle of Ivy League unbeatens. The Crimson got off to a fast start, forcing a three and out on the Big Red's opening drive, before converting on excellent field position to get out to a 7-0 lead. After a second successful stop, it seemed like the Crimson were about to run away with it, but sloppy execution followed by a missed field goal left the Crimson with no points. The offense continued to struggle, particularly through the air, and they had only a tenuous 14-10 lead going into the fourth quarter. But good teams know how to close out games, and the Crimson did so in style, adding two touchdowns, including a Collier Winters draw with nine seconds left that saw the Crimson escape with a 28-10 victory, coach Tim Murphy's 100th career win. The ground game and the defense both had huge days for Harvard. The rushing game claimed 254 yards and all 4 touchdowns, while the stout defense limited Cornell to only 182 yards, 62 of which came on the ground.

Last week, it was game number three of four straight against Ivy League opponents for the Leopards, as they were home against Columbia (2-2, 1-0 Ivy). Lafayette racked up a ton of yards on the day, 405, a number helped by the 287 yards and a touchdown from quarterback Rob Curley. It wasn't all rosy for Curley, however, as he was forced into throwing three interceptions on the day, which helped give the Lions a lead late in the game. But Maurice White ran in a touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game to complete a rally for Lafayette, giving them a 24-21 victory.

That ends the blog's look at tomorrow's Harvard game. Scott Reed and James Yoon will have much more in-depth coverage on tomorrow's pregame show (airing at 11:30 AM) and of course the game itself with Alasdair Wilkins, Tom Brennan, and Kara Hollis will be live in the booth from Harvard Stadium beginning at 12:00 PM. That can all be heard on 95.3 FM and

After the jump, we'll look at the rest of the games in the Ivy League.

The Fordham Rams (2-3, 0-1 Patriot) from the Rosehill area of the Bronx will be traveling to Ithaca this weekend to face the Cornell Big Red in Cornell's homecoming game. After opening the season with three straight losses, including to New York City rival Columbia, the Rams are riding a modest two game winning streak after a win against Old Dominion and a blowout of Bryant University, a 35-7 win. The Rams have a brother act that could be dangerous for the Big Red, as quarterback John Skelton threw for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns passes, with both touchdowns going to his younger brother Stephen Skelton. Fordham also has a dangerous running attack in Xavier Martin, who racked up 125 yards and a touchdown last week. A strong running game certainly does not play to the strengths of the Cornell Big Red. Last week against Harvard, their secondary played strong throughout the game, but on the ground, they gave up 254 yards and 4 touchdowns. In fact, in their past four games, Cornell has only given up 1 passing touchdown, in the first game of the season, but they have gone on to give up 10 straight rushing touchdowns, including nine in the last two games.

In an Ancient Eight and nationally televised battle, the Princeton Tigers (1-3, 0-1 Ivy) will be seeking their first conference win as they travel to Providence to face the Brown Bears (2-2, 0-1 Ivy), another team seeking their first conference win. The Tigers will have the benefit of some extra rest, as they played last Thursday in a nationally televised battle with the Colgate Raiders (6-0) that went to overtime. Colgate, fresh off a blowout against Cornell, could not find any offense against the boys from New Jersey, but Princeton's offense remained ineffective as well, and it was 7-7 going into OT. After trading touchdowns, Colgate sealed the win with a Nate Eachus run, winning 21-14. Brown, meanwhile, is coming off an upset victory after handing the Holy Cross Crusaders (4-1) their first loss of the year. It was a battle of gunslingers in Providence, and both teams left the run plays at home, as the two teams combined for 842 yards in passing but only 98 yards of rushing. With three seconds left and the game tied, Brown would elect to send out their kicker to go for a 34-yard field goal, and he rewarded their confidence by putting it through the uprights for the 34-31 victory. Brown was aided by three Holy Cross turnovers, including two interceptions by Dominic Randolph.

Two weeks ago, Harvard was at Lehigh while their arch-rival the Yale Bulldogs hosted Lehigh's rival Lafayette. Now the dance partners have switched, as the Elis (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) travel to Bethlehem, PA to face the Mountain Hawks (1-4, 1-0 Patriot). Yale's offense was struggling going into last week's conference match-up versus the Dartmouth Big Green, but a struggling team can sometimes be just what a struggling offense needs to get back on track, and that was the case for Yale as they won 38-7. The Bulldogs left Nebraska transfer Patrick Witt on the bench, and returned to last year's starter Brook Hart, who proved that decision wise in a big way, throwing for 390 yards and three touchdowns. The Elis piled up 520 yards on the day. Lehigh, meanwhile, faced the Patriot League equivalent of Dartmouth, as they took on Georgetown at home. The passing game for the Hawks managed only 81 yards, but included in that was three touchdown passes from Chris Lum. The real story though was on the ground, where the Mountain Hawks outgained the Hoyas by 235 yards, despite only obtaining 219 yards on the ground, meaning that, yes, Georgetown was held to -26 yards on the ground last week, thanks in part to the Lehigh sacks.

The Dartmouth Big Green (0-4, 0-2 Ivy) are on a 16 game losing streak, and things do not look to get any easier as they face the no. 25 Holy Cross Crusaders. Dartmouth Senior quarterback Alex Jenny, who was 3 of 6 for 31 yards, left with an injury to his throwing arm in the third quarter. That injury turned out to be a dislocated elbow (from Big Green Alert. Meanwhile, Dominic Randolph, coming off a big game yardage wise, will be looking to shake off the two picks he threw against Brown in last week's loss, in order to get the Crusaders back to their winning ways.

And in the "late" game (1:30 PM start), it's an all-Ivy League battle, as the Penn Quakers (2-2, 1-0 Ivy) and the Columbia Lions (2-2, 1-0 Ivy) look to join the Crimson as the last remaining undefeated team in Ivy League play. The Quakers were at home last week against the Bucknell Bison, and a balanced day of 164 yards passing and 100 yards rushing led the Quakers to a 21-3 victory. The scoreline does not reflect the offensive struggles of either team, as it was 7-0 going into the third quarter, and 7-3 before Penn's two rushing touchdowns in the last eight minutes. Penn's only passing touchdown came from sophomore running back Matt Hamscher from the Wildcat, while John Hurley took the majority of the snaps filling in for an injured Keiffer Garton, although he threw two of Penn's three picks. Columbia, meanwhile, is coming off a last second loss to Lafayette. The dual threat of M.A. Olawale led the Lions to a 21-10 lead at the half with a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown to Austin Knowlin, but the Leopards battled back to win on a last minute touchdown. Olawale finished the game with 152 yards through the air and 72 yards on the ground.

And that'll wrap up the blog's coverage of this week's Ivy League contests. Again, tune in to 95.3 FM and for live coverage at 12 PM for Harvard-Lafayette, with pregame coverage beginning at 11:30 AM.

PS- For those of you who aren't up on the lingo of crew, "Give Her Ten" is a command for a crew team to give ten extra effort strokes, usually in order to pass another boat. Seemed like fitting football terminology, seeing how it is Head of the Charles Weekend. And yes, I did need to look up what the term meant.

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