After Harvard football’s narrow win over Brown in Week 2—a game in which the Crimson racked up 11 penalties—Harvard coached Tim Murphy said that “penalties in general is a concern, and it will be addressed.”
“If you look at us traditionally, we’re team that doesn’t beat itself,” Murphy continued.
But when the Crimson took on Lafayette this Saturday at Harvard Stadium, the Leopards owe some thanks to the way Harvard beat itself throughout the first half.
A combination of the Crimson’s inability to get first downs, the recurrence of flags thrown against Harvard, and offensive turnovers led to 28 first-half points for Lafayette. Shortly before the close of the third frame, the Crimson had just six first downs and already six penalties.
“Penalties are inexcusable,” Murphy said after Saturday’s 35-18 loss. “When we win, we win by minimizing mistakes. We gave it to them.”
Harvard got off to an auspicious start—on the very first snap, the Leopard’s Carlos Lowe disrupted a pass complete to junior Chris Lorditch, and Eric McGovern recovered the fumble.
Lafayette started its drive just outside the Crimson’s red-zone territory, and it took just two quick runs from DeAndre’ Morrow to put the Leopards on the board.
Lafayette extended its lead later in the frame after a Michael Schmidlein interception started another drive in Harvard territory. Morrow again decimated the Crimson line, scoring a touchdown on a run from 23 yards out.
“We didn’t have any continuity on offense in the first half,” Murphy said. “We put our defense on too-short fields and put them out on the field too much.”
“We didn’t really make them earn them,” Murphy continued. “If you look at the plays that we turned the ball over, they weren’t spectacular plays, we just didn’t get it done.”
The Leopards capitalized again on Harvard miscues to start the second quarter.
Senior Conor Murphy kept a Lafayette drive going when he got flagged for “running into the kicker”—a penalty that gives the kicking team five yards, which was enough to give the Leopards a first down in this instance.
Lafayette nearly shot themselves in the foot with a costly 10-yard holding call in Crimson territory, but a hard hit dealt from junior Collin Zych to the Leopards’ Mitchell Bennett was flagged for “illegal helmet contact,” and what was going to be a 3rd-and-20 situation suddenly morphed into second and four.
Lafayette’s fourth touchdown drive of the first half was kept alive when a pass from Leopard quarterback Rob Curley to Mark Layton fell incomplete, but pass interference was called against Harvard senior cornerback Derrick Barker—a penalty that results in an automatic first down.
“Defensively, we make no excuses,” captain Carl Ehrlich said. “We’ve got to make the stops.”
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