No. 17/18 Football Moves to 8-0 as Defense Shuts Out Columbia, 45-0

Sheehan returned two interceptions for a touchdown as the Crimson moved its win streak to 12 (Jason Eggleston).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Two pick-sixes by Connor Sheehan highlighted a dominant performance by the Crimson defense, as the No. 17/18 Harvard football team defeated Columbia, 45-0, on a sunny afternoon at Harvard Stadium.

With the win, Harvard remains as one of just six unbeaten teams in the nation and moves to 8-0 for the third time under Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football. The Crimson also started 8-0 in 2001 and 2004, and ran the table in both years to win the Ivy League title with an unblemished mark.

Harvard can clinch at least a share of its eighth Ancient Eight crown under Murphy with a win next weekend at Penn. The game can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network with kickoff from Franklin Field scheduled for 1 p.m.

Harvard's defense, which entered the day ranked second in the nation in points allowed per game, shut out Columbia (0-8, 0-5 Ivy League) for the third consecutive year while forcing six turnovers. Three off those miscues ended in a Harvard touchdown, with Conor Sheehan running back two interceptions for scores and Matt Koran adding the third. James Duberg recorded two of the Crimson's five sacks on the afternoon as the Lions were limited to 254 yards of offense.

Semar Smith starred in the backfield for Harvard as he rushed the ball 11 times for 114 yards and one score. Paul Stanton, Jr., also received 11 carries for 83 yards. Scott Hosch was an efficient 10-of-19 under center, throwing for 136 yards and one touchdown, with Andrew Fischer on the receiving end of our of those passes for 59 yards. Seitu Smith II hauled in Hosch's lone touchdown pass just before the end of the first half, while his brother Semar found pay dirt for the first time in his career to open the second half.

The Crimson opened the scoring when senior linebacker Sheehan picked off Columbia quarterback Trevor McDonagh and returned the ball 48 yards for a touchdown, putting Harvard ahead 7-0. A big hit by Eric Medes popped the ball up in the air, allowing Sheehan to streak down the left sideline for the first score of his career.

Harvard's defense struck again with three minutes left to play in the quarter, with Koran's 34-yard interception return pushing the lead to 14-0. The Crimson's defensive pressure continued to result in points scored, as Stanton punched the ball in with 12:21 remaining in the second quarter after linebacker Eric Ryan recovered a fumble at the one-yard line.

A blocked punt by senior defensive back Ryan Jones gave Harvard's offense great field possession again, but this time the Crimson could not capitalize as a field-goal attempt by Andrew Flesher sailed wide. Harvard broke through again before the half, however, as Hosch connected with Seitu Smith for a 22-yard score and a 28-0 margin.

The Crimson received the ball to open the second stanza and promptly marched 75 yards down the field on eight plays. Semar Smith was the catalyst for Harvard's longest drive of the game, rushing the ball four times for 37 yards, including a three-yard scamper for the touchdown.

Moments later, Sheehan tallied his second pick-six of the game, putting the Crimson up 42-0. Sheehan intercepted the ball near midfield and weaved his way down the field 48 yards for the third defensive score of the game. Sheehan is the first member of the Crimson to return two interceptions for a touchdown since Dante Balestracci '04 accomplished the feat on October 28, 2000 against Dartmouth.

Senior Ben Falloon concluded the scoring with a 34-yard field goal, capping an eight-play 69-yard drive. Semar Smith continued to be the engine behind Harvard's second-half offense, ripping off three 20-plus yard runs on the drive.