Anthony Firkser recorded a career-high 147 receiving yards in the win over Georgetown. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Joe Viviano threw three first half touchdown passes, and Anthony Firkser made five catches for a career-high 147 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 19 Harvard (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) to a 31-17 victory over Georgetown (3-1, 0-0 Patriot) Friday night at Harvard Stadium.
Harvard totaled 535 yards of total offense, including a season-high 358 yards passing, with Tom Stewart (111 yards) and Cam Tripp (37 yards, 1 TD pass) also contributing under center. Junior running back Semar Smith led the rushing attack with 72 yards on 12 attempts, while Noah Reimers added 57 yards on the ground.
On defense, Tanner Lee led Harvard with eight tackles, while DJ Bailey added two sacks and Anthony Camargo recorded his first career interception.
The Crimson wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, capping off the opening drive of the game with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Viviano to sophomore Brian Dunlap in the corner of the end zone. Viviano found four different Crimson receivers on the drive, completing 5-of-6 passes as Harvard went 80 yards in less than three minutes of action.
After the Harvard defense quickly forced the Hoyas to punt on their first possession, Viviano marched the offense back down the field and found Firkser for the 11-yard strike to give the Crimson a 14-0 advantage with 8:38 remaining in the first. Once again, Viviano picked apart the Georgetown secondary as he completed all five of his passes on the 70-yard drive.
The two teams then traded possessions and Georgetown forced a Crimson punt to take over at the 24-yard line. Georgetown quarterback Tim Barnes hit wide receiver Brandon Williams with a quick screen pass on first down and Williams broke free, taking it 76 yards to cut the Harvard lead to 14-7 with 1:48 left to play in the opening quarter.
The Hoyas kept their momentum going on the defensive end, blocking the ensuing punt from Harvard and taking over at the Crimson 21-yard line. Harvard's defense stood strong, stopping Georgetown on fourth and two to force a turnover on downs and give the ball back to the offense.
The Crimson attack struck quickly after the fourth-down stop as Viviano found Firkser again down the middle for a 75-yard touchdown, giving Harvard a 21-7 advantage with 13:05 left in the second quarter.
Defensively, Harvard continued to shut down the Hoyas attack. The Crimson held Georgetown scoreless over the remainder of the half, forcing three punts and putting the offense in solid field position.
Sophomore quarterback Tom Stewart replaced Viviano early in the second quarter and continued to keep the pressure on the Georgetown defense. Stewart led the Crimson offense down the field, utilizing his legs (43 yards rushing) to complement the passing game. In his second drive, the sophomore picked up 21 yards on the ground Semar Smith ran for 24 more as Harvard finished the drive with an 18-yard field goal. The Crimson held a 24-7 advantage at the intermission.
Harvard's defense set the tone coming out of halftime, forcing three consecutive punts, including two three-and-outs. DJ Bailey picked up his second sack of the game during one of the stops as the Crimson held Georgetown scoreless in the third quarter.
Cam Tripp replaced Stewart in the second half and controlled the tempo for the Harvard attack Tripp helped guide the Crimson on a 12-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off with a touchdown pass to freshman Cody Chrest to make it 31-7 with 14:19 remaining in the game.
Georgetown added a 43-yard field goal from Henry Darmstadter with 5:32 to play, then tacked on a late touchdown on a 74-yard run from Isaac Ellsworth with 2:08 to go to make it 31-17.
But Harvard's Cody Chrest recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Crimson held on for the win.
Harvard returns to Ivy League play against Cornell at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct 8 at Harvard Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on One World Sports and available to stream on the Ivy League Digital Network.