The Crimson defense limited Lafayette to 85 rushing yards in a 35-16 victory (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 25 Harvard football team forced four turnovers and scored in each quarter en route to a 35-16 victory over Lafayette Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium. The win is the Crimson's 15th straight at home, the third longest streak in Div. I, and improves the team to 5-0 for a second straight year.
Harvard's defense stifled the Lafayette (1-5, 1-0 Patriot League) offense thanks in part to three interceptions, three sacks, and one fumble recovery. D.J. Monroe and Joshua Boyd led the way with seven tackles apiece. Monroe added an interception and pass breakup as Boyd notched a sack and tackle for loss. Chris Splinter and Connor Sheehan each intercepted a pass and returned the ball 35 yards, complimenting sacks for Zach Hodges and Brent Spisak. In total the Leopards gained just 85 yards on the ground while totaling 327 through the air.
Senior Michael Pruneau finished the game 17-of-29 for 263 yards and three touchdowns highlighted by a 50-yard pass to Andrew Fischer to open the fourth quarter. Sophomore Paul Stanton, Jr. lead the team on the ground with 21 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns, while senior Cameron Brate added four receptions for 34 yards and two scores. Senior Ricky Zorn (4 rec., 103 yds.) went over 100 yards for the second time this season.
The Crimson led 7-0 after the opening drive resulted in a Brate touchdown. Harvard went 72 yards on 15 plays to take the early lead, capped off by a fake field goal from the two-yard line. On the play, Pruneau took the snap and rolled to his right where he found Brate standing alone in the back corner of the end zone.
Lafayette held the ball at the Harvard 28 early in the second quarter before Sheehan intercepted an Andrew Dzurik pass and returned it for 35-yards to the Lafayette 45. After a steady diet of Stanton and Andrew Casten on the ground, a pass interference call against Lafayette moved the Crimson to the Leopard's 12-yard line. Stanton finished the drive off with a rush through the left side of the line from three yards out, giving the Crimson a 14-0 lead.
The Leopards got on the scoreboard with 3:48 remaining, 14-3, after a Harvard pass interference call put Lafayette at the Crimson 31. A 20-yard completion from Dzurik to Brandon Hall gave Lafayette 1st-and-10 from the Harvard five, but a big play by Hodges which resulted in a five-yard loss helped limit the Leopards to a field goal attempt.
Harvard was forced to punt on its ensuing possession but regained the ball after Splinter picked off Dzurik and returned it to the Lafayette 23 with 1:42 to play before half. The Crimson was stymied on the drive, however, and after Andrew Flesher's field-goal attempt went wide the teams went into the locker room with Harvard on top, 14-3.
D.J. Monroe intercepted a Drew Reed pass at the Harvard 47 to put an end to Lafayette's opening drive of the second half. Despite the interception, the Crimson offense wasn't able to capitalize and was forced into a three-and-out. Lafayette moved into Harvard territory on its ensuing possession, but Boyd's sack on 4th-and-5 from the Crimson 36-yard line put the ball back in Harvard's hands. With the ball at the Lafayette 19, Stanton rushed for 16 yards down to the three-yard line before barreling in from for his second score of the day and a 21-3 advantage.
A fumble by Zorn after a 32-yard completion ended Harvard's next possession and gave the ball back to Lafayette with 2:23 to play in the quarter. Reed's 29-yard completion to Hall helped move the ball down to the Crimson 22-yard line as time expired, but the Crimson defense came up big again, this time in the form of Norman Hayes. The big-hitting junior came off the edge and forced Ross Scheuerman to cough up the ball, with Eric Medes recovering for Harvard's fourth forced turnover of the day.
From the Lafayette 19, Pruneau orchestrated a three-play, 81-yard drive that included a 37-yard reception by Zorn and resulted in Fischer's 50-yard score to give the Crimson a 28-3 lead.
Lafayette would add its first touchdown of the game on a 25-yard strike from Reed to Mike Duncan to move the score to 28-10, but the Crimson put the game away on its next possession with an 11-play, 82-yard drive capped off by Brate's second touchdown of the day, this time from 15-yards out.
Up next, Harvard hosts Princeton in a 1 p.m. showdown at Harvard Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 26. The game will be shown live nationally on Fox College Sports.