Sunny skies and mild temperatures welcomed the Crimson to Princeton, New Jersey on Saturday, and some familiar faces returned as Harvard put away a struggling Princeton team. The Crimson (4-2, 2-1 Ivy) racked up 583 yards in total offense, with 394 yards coming on the ground. Senior Gino Gordon had a career day, running for a career-high 204 yards on 20 carries. Each of the top three Crimson running backs recorded a score: Gordon had a 26-yard run in the first quarter, Treavor Scales had a 46-yard scamper in the second, and Rich Zajeski added a 9-yard touchdown run just before halftime.
On defense, Harvard displayed the pattern we've seen from them all season: tough against the run but soft against the pass. Princeton rushed 32 times for 88 yards, for only 2.8 yards per carry, with 32 of those yards coming on Jordan Culbreath's first quarter carry. For the most part, the Tigers were unable to consistently run the ball against Harvard. Against the pass, though, the Crimson showed signs of weakness. Princeton Quarterback Andrew Dixon, a backup with limited playing experience, completed 20 of 29 passes for 195 yards. Senior Tiger Wide Receiver Trey Peacock, the best pass-catcher the Ivy League has to offer, had another big day in hauling in 11 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Crimson were able to pick off Dixon twice, both times when Princeton was inside the red zone and threatening to score.
The biggest story of the day for the Crimson, however, was the return of its top two quarterbacks in Collier Winters and Andrew Hatch. Hatch started the game but had a shaky first half, going 9-21 for 98 yards and two interceptions. It was a surprise to see Head Coach Tim Murphy pull Hatch at the break and go with the junior, Collier Winters. Winters tore his labrum in a preseason scrimmage and was not expected to return at all this season. Apparently, he has had a rather quick recovery and entered the game on Saturday, playing the entire second half. Winters had a stronger showing than Hatch, going 8-12 for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Although the coaching staff did not yet trust Winters to throw downfield much, he performed ably for his first start back.
Looking forward, the return of Hatch and Winters brightens Harvard's outlook for the remainder of the season. Injuries have severely hampered a Crimson team that, in this writer's opinion, had the potential to go undefeated if healthy. Harvard still has a shot at an Ivy title, however, provided they win out and the Brown Bears lose once (Brown defeated Harvard 29-14 back in September). It remains to be seen whether Hatch or Winters will be trusted with complete control of the offense, or whether Coach Murphy decides to use both quarterbacks in some capacity. Regardless, it is good news that both are healthy and will be available for the home stretch of the Ivy season. This weekend's game against the Dartmouth Big Green (1:30pm, WHRB 95.3FM) looms large. If Harvard can escape Hanover with a win, the table will be set for late-season showdowns with Penn and Yale.