CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard stayed in contention for its third Ivy League title in the last four years on Saturday as the Crimson cruised past visiting Columbia, 23-7 at Harvard Stadium.
The Crimson (6-2, 4-1 Ivy) takes to the road next weekend for a pivotal matchup at the University of Pennsylvania, which entered play on Saturday as the league's only unbeaten. Columbia has lost four-straight games and sees its record dip to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the league.
Harvard led 23-0 before Columbia got on the board late in the third quarter. The Crimson started the scoring with a 29-yard field goal from David Mothander before Gino Gordon capped a wild series of plays with a 5-yard touchdown run for a 10-0 lead at the 3:47 mark of the second quarter.
Leading up to the touchdown, Harvard was faced with a fourth-and-10 from Columbia's 35-yard line. Collier Winters' pass was intercepted by Craig Hamilton at the Lions' 19 but Crimson receiver Mike Cook laid a big hit on Hamilton, forcing a fumble that he recovered to provide a new set of downs. Gordon struck four plays later with his seventh rushing TD of the year.
Harvard got on the board just before halftime with an impressive two-minute offense. Winters was 4-for-4 passing on the drive, which started on Columbia's 49, and the junior QB finished things with a three-yard plunge into the end zone.
In the second half, Treavor Scales contributed an 11-yard touchdown run to mark the fourth time this season that three different Harvard players have rush for a touchdown.
Columbia got on the board at the 2:14 mark of the third on a blown assignment as Sean Brackett found Kurt Williams all alone in the end zone for a 36-yard scoring pass.
Gordon collected his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season, finishing with 109 yards. Winters finished 25-of-38 for 246 yards through the air.
Defensively, the team was led by Matthew Hanson, Collin Zych and Nick Hasselberg who all totaled nine tackles. Josue Ortiz, who leads the league in sacks and tackles for a loss, registered stats in both categories on the day with 2.0 tackles behind the line and one sack. He also was a factor in both Harvard interceptions on the day as he hurried Brackett into a pick in the second quarter before deflecting a pass that was intercepted by Alex Gedeon in third quarter.
Gedeon finished his day with seven tackles and also stepped in for emergency punting duty due to an injured player. Gedeon punted six times for an average of 36.8 yards and a long of 47.
Brackett was 26-of-45 for 284 yards and two interceptions. He was also the team's leading rusher with 47 yards on 12 carries.