CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—No. 22 ranked Harvard scored 21 points off three Columbia third quarter fumbles and held off the Lions to register a 28-21 football win Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.
Trailing 14-7 at halftime, Harvard scored 21 unanswered third quarter points to take a 28-14 lead. A Columbia fumble gave Harvard the ball deep in Columbia territory and the Crimson tied the game at 14-14 on a 15-yard Charlie Booker run with 10:29 left in the third quarter. On its next possession, Harvard went up 21-14 on an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Viviano to Anthon Firkser. The play was setup by a 32-yard pass from Viviano to Adam Scott which sparked an eight play, 50 yard scoring drive. After another Columbia fumble on the ensuing possession, the Crimson took a 28-14 lead when Scott caught a screen pass from Viviano and ran 22 yards for a touchdown.
Columbia (2-6, 1-4 Ivy League) cut the deficit to 28-21 with 4:02 left in the game when freshman Josh Wainwright caught a four-yard touchdown pass from senior Skyler Mornhinweg. The score ended a 12-play, 84-yard drive. Columbia had two more possessions in the game’s final four minutes but couldn’t close the margin.
“It’s tough when you turn the ball over the amount of times we did today,” Columbia Head Coach Al Bagnoli said. “With the turnovers, it really puts a lot of stress on our defense. When you have three turnovers deep in your own territory, it’s really difficult to hold them off when you play an explosive team like Harvard. We played really well defensively for the majority of the game. We did a pretty nice job of bottling them up.”
“We’re still trying to get a consistent, sustained effort, but I commend our players, we had great effort from our team today. We’re slowly starting to get this thing turned around and built. Hopefully we can get it sustained to where we see some consistency over the long-haul.”
For the first time this season, Columbia led at halftime. Columbia’s defense stopped Harvard on a fourth and goal from the Lion one-yard line to secure a 14-7 halftime lead. With Harvard driving, the Crimson faced a fourth and goal from the Lion one-yard line. Columbia’s defense stopped Viviano after he took the snap from center.
The Lions built a 14-7 lead with 10:40 left in the second quarter when freshman Michael Murphy blocked a Harvard punt and freshman Hunter Lunsford scooped up the ball and rambled 14 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The last time Columbia blocked a kick for a touchdown was in 2004 against Fordham when Ryan Mettee returned a kick eight yards for a touchdown.
Columbia tied the score at 7-7 with the first play of the second quarter when junior quarterback Anders Hill found freshman Ronald Smith open for a five-yard touchdown pass. Columbia sophomore Ryan Gilbert set up the touchdown when he recovered a fumble off a Harvard punt return. The fumble recovery gave Columbia the ball at the Harvard 43-yard line. On the next play, senior Cameron Dunn caught a 30-yard pass from Hill and senior Alan Watson broke several tackles for a first down. Hill found Smith for the touchdown. The drive went six plays, 57 yards and 2:21.
Harvard (7-1, 5-0 Ivy League) struck first with a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Viviano to Adam Scott.
Viviano led Harvard as he completed 17 of 34 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Scott caught seven passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns and Firkser finished with four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
For Columbia, Hill threw for 110 yards on 12 of 22 passes and a touchdown, Mornhinweg completed 12 of 24 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in his first action in three games, Wainwright caught seven passes for 58 yards and Dunn finished with six catches for 70 yards. Senior linebacker Gianmarco Rea led the Lion defense with a game-high 15 tackles and two sacks.
Columbia is back in action when it hosts Cornell Saturday for the Empire State Bowl at Robert K. Kraft Field. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. The contest also marks Senior Day.
POST GAME NOTES
·Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its three 2016 captains: seniors Scooter Hollis (WR), Skyler Mornhinweg (QB) and Christian Conway (LB).
·Today’s weather at kickoff at Harvard Stadium was 50 degrees and partly cloudy.
·Junior Alex Holme made his second career and second consecutive start at defensive tackle. Holme finished with a career-high six tackles.
·Columbia recovered its second and third fumbles of the year. Sophomore Ryan Gilbert fell on a fumbled punt return at the end of the first quarter and freshman Hunter Lunsford recovered a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter.
·Senior Brock Kenyon intercepted his team-leading third pass in the third quarter. Kenyon leaped in the air and collected the pass at the goalline. Kenyon also made seven tackles.
·Freshman wide receiver Ronald Smith caught his team-leading and third career touchdown pass on a five-yard reception in the second quarter. Smith has scored three touchdowns in Columbia’s last two games.
·Columbia freshman Michael Murphy blocked a Harvard punt and freshman Hunter Lunsford scooped up the ball and ran 14 yards into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter. The blocked kick for touchdown was Columbia’s first since it scored when Ryan Mettee ran for eight yards vs. Fordham in 2004. It was Columbia’s second blocked punt of the season as Ronald Smith blocked the first at Penn.
·Freshman Arman Samouk registered his first career sack in the second quarter.
·Columbia led for the first time this season at halftime. The Lions led 14-7 at halftime.
·Senior quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg saw his first action in three games. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
·Senior Gianmarco Rea finished with a team-leading 15 tackles and team-highs of two sacks/tackles for loss for 17 yards. He has now totaled 10 or more tackles in seven of Columbia’s eight games this year.
·Freshman Daniel DeLorenzi registered his team-leading fourth and fifth sacks of the season. He finished the day with four tackles, 2.0 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss.
·Junior Connor Heeb totaled a career-high seven tackles.
·Senior Cameron Dunn registered season-highs six receptions for 70 yards with a long of 30.
·Columbia traveled 20 freshmen on today’s travel squad. That number represents 31 percent of its travel roster (20 of 63).
·Columbia and Harvard met for the 75th time in series history. Harvard now leads the all-time series 61-13-1 overall. Harvard has now claimed each of the last 13 consecutive games in the series dating back to a Nov. 8, 2003 Columbia victory in New York. In games played at Harvard, Columbia is 5-32-1 overall. Harvard has now won 19 straight games played against Columbia in Cambridge.