Just one yard from a touchdown, senior Jason Holdway, recently converted from safety to running back, took the handoff and ran into a wall of Georgetown defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage. On second down, same result.
In came rookie fullback Noah Reimers to try his luck on third-and-goal. Seconds later, Reimers was in the end zone for the third time that night, and the rout was complete. Behind six rushing touchdowns from three different players, the Harvard football team (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) continued its impressive 2015 campaign on a chilly Friday night, dismantling Georgetown (2-3) for its 17th-straight win, 45-0.
If the Georgetown defensive seven’s mantra was to bend and not break, that certainly didn’t hold against the Crimson’s stalwart offensive line. Whether it was senior running back Paul Stanton, Reimers, or Holdway in the backfield, Crimson rushers routinely found clean running lanes, forcing the Hoyas to make the tough open-field tackles or tack another seven points on the ever-mounting deficit.
“This is as good an offensive line as we’ve ever had here,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “You put those three seniors, Adam Redmond, Cole Toner, and Anthony Fabiano, and tremendous athletes, they’ve all started about 30 games apiece…. That’s the heart and soul of our offense. If you have a great offensive line, you can do a lot of things.”
Stanton continued his ascent in the Crimson record books, surpassing Treavor Scales ’13 and Mike Giardi ’94 after his first touchdown Friday night to take the sole second-place slot in career rushing touchdowns with 30. The senior tallied 113 yards on the ground along with two scores, including a 37-yard dash down the sideline. Friday night marked the 10th-consecutive game that Stanton has found the end zone for the Crimson.
After taking a 31-0 lead to end the first half, Murphy elected to save Stanton’s legs, and Reimers shouldered much of the rushing load for the remainder of the game. The freshman took advantage of the support of a veteran offensive line to record 64 yards as well as three touchdowns.
“[Reimers] is a hard worker, great kid, so I’m just really excited that he’s flourished so quickly,” Stanton said.
NO LUCK FOR NOLAN
While Crimson quarterback Scott Hosch enjoyed pass protection that hasn’t allowed a sack yet in 2015, Georgetown play-caller Kyle Nolan wasn’t as fortunate.
Early in the second quarter, Nolan, flushed out of the pocket by three red jerseys, scrambled and tried to throw the ball away, but junior defensive end Miles McCollum was too fast. McCollum stripped the ball from Nolan, and captain Matt Koran was there for the easy recovery. Less than two minutes later, Harvard capitalized on the turnover, and the lead increased to 24 as Reimers plowed into the end zone.
The Hoyas moved the chains just 11 times on the night, and the Crimson defense made sure that each first down was hard earned, bringing pressure from the front seven or throwing corner blitzes at Nolan on each third down. Georgetown converted on just 27 percent of its third downs, and the Hoyas’ punter got a workout, punting the ball eight times for 259 yards—37 more yards than the visiting squad’s offense.
“Coach puts us in the right position to rush the quarterback on third-and-long or whatever it may be,” said senior defensive end James Duberg. “Definitely chalk a lot of it up to the coaching and putting it in the right place.”
SO CLOSE YET SO FAR
Down by just three points in the first quarter, the Hoyas appeared poised to at least even up the score. After a 34-yard kickoff return, Georgetown began its second drive near midfield, and Nolan moved the squad down to the Harvard 35-yard line.
But on third down, Nolan’s screen pass to running back Jo’el Kimpela wasn’t enough for the first down, and on the ensuing fourth down, Kimpela found himself wrapped up in the backfield by Koran on a failed option play for a turnover on downs.
The Hoyas’ next possession—now down 10 points after Hosch and company marched down the field, this time completing the drive with a Stanton touchdown—didn’t fare much better. Fueled by a 40-yard dash from Kimpela, Georgetown drove down from its own 25 to Harvard’s 25-yard line before stalling at a 4th-and-14.
With the squad just out of field goal range, Georgetown coach Rob Sgarlata elected to attempt the long conversion. The Hoyas moved the ball down just three of the required 14 yards but caught a break when sophomore linebacker Luke Hutton was called for an illegal use of hands penalty, and 4th-and-14 became 4th-and-1. This time, Sgarlata sent out his field goal unit, but the kicker missed wide left, and Georgetown remained scoreless.
“When you stop a team that early in the game, you can see it in their expressions, body language, everything,” Duberg said. “To get a stop like that two times in a row, it’s unbelievable.”
—Staff writer Samantha Lin can be reached at email@example.com.