Ground Attack Leads No. 19 Football Past Brown, 32-22

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Semar Smith and Joe Viviano combined for four rushing touchdowns and the Harvard offense accumulated 189 yards on the ground, leading the Crimson (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) to a 32-22 triumph over Brown (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) Saturday in Providence.

No. 19 Harvard football produced a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball, adding 205 yards through the air for 394 yards of total offense. Smith led the rushing game with 89 yards on 22 attempts, while Anthony Firkser led the receiving corps with 78 yards on four catches. Justice Shelton-Mosley reeled in six grabs to the tune of 69 yards. Viviano finished 17-of-31 through the air, while running for 76 yards.

Defensively, sophomore DJ Bailey recorded a team-high six tackles, including an eight-yard sack. The Crimson secondary also showed its ballhawk prowess, intercepting Brown QB Kyle Moreno three times.

Saturday marked the 221st game coached for Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Fotball, passing Joseph Restic for the most games coached on the Harvard sideline. The win improved Murphy to 158-63 overall and 111-44 in the Ivy League during his 23 seasons at the helm of the Crimson.

Brown jumped on the board first with a 27-yard field goal 3:42 into the game. The Bears threatened with a first-and-goal from eight yards out, but the Crimson defense stood strong to allow just three points.  

Harvard answered at the start of the second quarter with a powerful run by junior RB Semar Smith from two yards out. The 49-yard drive took just under three minutes and featured a 21-yard rush by Viviano to set the Crimson up inside the Brown 10.

The Harvard defense forced another Brown punt to set the offense up on the Harvard 49-yard line. Three completed passes by Viviano and two rushes by Smith put the Crimson seven yards from another score. Viviano achieved six with his feet and sophomore Cam Tripp added a two-point conversion to give the Crimson a 12-point lead, 15-3, with 10:05 left before half.

On the first play of the next drive, senior safety Kolbi Brown picked off Kyle Moreno and returned the ball 25 yards to the Brown 20-yard line. Jake McIntyre added three to the score, putting Harvard up 18-3 with 8:26 on the clock.  

An 84-yard rally from Brown over the next five minutes – which included a successful fake punt for a first down – ended with a 20-yard pass from Moreno to Troy Doles in the left corner of the endzone to pull the Bears within eight, 18-10.

The Crimson matched the Bears with an 83-yard drive on the following possession that was capped with a two-yard rush by Viviano. Shelton-Mosley set up the score with a diving 32-yard grab on third-and-10. It was the second time on the drive Viviano connected with the Sacramento, California product to move the chains on third down. Harvard headed to the locker room up ahead, 25-10.

Brown added six on a 24-yard strike from Moreno to Doles. The five-play 44-yard march took just 1:06. After a failed extra point, the Bears were within nine, 25-16, with 2:38 to play in the third.

A failed on-side kick by Brown gave the Crimson excellent field position at their own 49-yard line. On the first play, Shelton-Mosley rushed for 32 yards, shaking off several defenders to sit at the Brown 17. Smith walked in for his second rushing TD of the game, this time from nine yards out. The Crimson doubled the Bears, 32-16, at the end of three quarters.

Brown would add the only score of the final quarter, an eight-yard touchdown catch by Garrett Swankey, but the Crimson defense would hold off the Bears the rest of the way for the 32-22 final count.

The Crimson returns to Harvard Stadium for the next two weeks, starting with Georgetown Friday, Sept. 30. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and is set to kick off at 7 p.m.