22-Game Win Streak Snapped as No. 12/13 Harvard Falls to Penn, 35-25

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Play Video

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- No. 12/13 Harvard football dropped a 35-25 decision to Penn Saturday afternoon, as the Quakers snapped the Crimson's 22-game win streak on Senior Day at Harvard Stadium.

It marked the first loss for the Crimson (8-1, 5-1 Ivy League) since Oct. 26, 2013 against Princeton. Senior quarterback Scott Hosch completed 20-of-30 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns, including 134 to classmate Ben Braunecker. Braunecker totaled 100-plus receiving yards for the fourth time over the last five games. Senior Paul Stanton, Jr., and sophomore Semar Smith contributed 136 combined rushing yards.

The Quakers (6-3, 5-1) were led by quarterback Alek Torgersen, who finished 17-of-26 for 245 yards and two scores through the air, adding two rushing TDs. Justin Watson had 100 yards and one TD rushing, while also catching seven passes for 149 yards and a score.

In its first drive of the game, Penn took just seven plays, as Torgersen moved down the field and scored a nine-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw. The Quakers took a 7-0 lead at the 10:21 mark in the first quarter.

The Quakers went up 14-0 at the 5:19 mark after another Torgersen rushing TD, this time from two yards out.

Freshman Justice Shelton-Mosley gave Harvard great field position with just over five minutes to play in the stanza, running a punt back 81 yards to the Penn 17-yard line. Hosch would toss to Anthony Firkser in the end zone for a three-yard score, giving the Crimson its first TD of the game, 14-6, after a missed extra point.

Penn was undaunted, as Torgersen found Watson for a successful 68-yard touchdown pass with 3:02 in the first quarter, expanding the score 21-6. It marked the largest deficit for the Crimson since the Penn game in 2010.

After the Harvard defense forced a Penn three-and-out, a reverse to Shelton-Mosley accounted for 21 yards on the ground. Stanton would move the Crimson down the field with two rushes for 13 yards. Hosch completed the drive with a 14-yard pass to Seitu Smith, who beat his defender into the end zone. The Crimson missed the two-point conversion, but pulled within a score, 21-13, with 12:14 left in the half. 

Harvard persisted after another three-and-out by Penn. Hosch completed 16- and 17-yard passes to Braunecker to close in on the goal line. Semar Smart ran the ball for 15 yards through an open slot and over the pylon for Harvard's third touchdown of the game, making the score 21-19 with 8:56 remaining in the half. This marked the second time that the Smith brothers had scored in the same game and first since Nov. 8, 2014 vs. Columbia.

For the seventh time in nine games, the Crimson recorded a blocked punt, as Sean Ahern jumped in front of the Quaker's Kelly Hunter. Harvard carried the energy into its next drive as Hosch powered the team down the field. The end was a reverse where Shelton-Mosley threw a perfectly placed 28-yard pass to Anthony Firkser. Another two-point conversion failed, but the Crimson went ahead 25-21 and would hold that advantage at the break.  

The Quakers opened up the third quarter with a four-play scoring drive, ending with Ryan Kelly catching a Torgersen 28-yard pass to put Penn back on top, 28-25. The Crimson's Kenny Smart attempted a field goal at the Penn 10-yard line but was unsuccessful as Jyron Walker was able to get his hands on the kick.

Penn closed out the scoring with a 79-yard rush by Watson just before the 13-minute mark of the fourth quarter. The Quakers kept the Crimson off the board in the second half – the first time Harvard was unable to score over the final 30 minutes since Nov. 11, 2006.

The Crimson will now prepare for the 132nd playing of The Game against Yale. Kickoff in New Haven, Connecticut is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. with the game being shown live nationally on the NBC Sports Network.