Until less than a month ago, senior quarterback Tom Stewart was not even starting for Harvard. A mere four weeks later, he has etched his name into the Crimson’s record books after turning in a five-touchdown performance this past Saturday in a 52-18 win over Columbia. The Dallas native overcame inclement conditions to tie the touchdown record set in 1953 by Carroll Lowenstein ’54 and matched in 2011 by Collier Winters ’12 and Colton Chapple ’13.
It was apt that Stewart’s best performance came on senior day. He managed to throw for an astounding 393 yards despite completing just 15 passes. Among those completions were the three longest touchdown passes in program history: a beautiful 92-yard strike to junior receiver Jack Cook on the first play of the game, a 75-yard pass under pressure to sophomore receiver Tyler Adams, and a 74-yard lofted pass to sophomore running back Aaron Shampklin.
All three touchdowns came during Harvard’s dominant opening quarter, after which Stewart had already racked up 251 yards passing. The Texan later slung two touchdown passes to fellow senior Henry Taylor, who racked up 105 receiving yards in addition to the two scores.
Stewart had tallied 342 passing yards by halftime and had a chance to target the all-time mark of 448 (Chapple, 2011), but the wind put a damper on the passing game after the break. Nevertheless, the senior signal caller looked comfortable and confident throughout for the Crimson.
Stewart’s commanding performance came after back-to-back weeks in which Harvard (4-4, 2-3 Ivy League) lost close games to nationally ranked Ivy League stalwarts Princeton (8-0, 5-0) and Dartmouth (7-1, 4-1). In seven games (four starts), the Crimson quarterback has now thrown for 11 touchdowns without a single interception.
The senior is making his chance to quarterback Harvard count. He had thrown just 51 career passes before this season, all of which came in his sophomore season.
The Lions (1-4, 4-4) improved after being blitzed in the first quarter, but they were never able to make a dent in the deficit, as the Crimson scored at least a touchdown in each quarter to stay comfortably ahead. In the end, Harvard racked up 496 yards of total offense en route to just its second victory since Sept. 21st.
It would be very tough for Stewart to top his senior day performance, but he will look to maintain his exceptional play and the Crimson’s winning ways at Penn (3-2, 6-2) on Saturday and then against Yale (3-2, 5-3) at Fenway Park. With consecutive wins, Harvard would finish back above .500 after a rare 5-5 season in 2017.