Rhode Island, 51–21 Win
The Harvard football team started the year off right, taking a 21–0 lead in the first quarter of its season opener against Rhode Island. The Crimson offense put up 51 points and 564 yards of offense in its season opener while holding the Rams to just 292 yards of total offense. Harvard quarterback Joe Viviano threw for a career-high 290 yards despite sitting on the bench for the final 10 minutes of the game, while top receivers Anthony Firkser and Justice Shelton-Mosley combined for 219 yards. Harvard also got plenty of help on the ground, as running back Semar Smith ran for a season-high 107 yards in the victory.
Brown, 32–22 Win
While Viviano demonstrated his skills throwing the ball in Week 1, the senior quarterback showcased his running ability against Brown, posting a career-high 76 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Viviano continued his strong play through the air as well, throwing 205 yards against a Brown defense known for getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, having recorded 24 sacks on the year. Despite letting the Bears throw for 316 yards, the Harvard defense took advantage of Brown’s mistakes, intercepting Bears quarterback Kyle Moreno three times.
Georgetown, 31–17 Win
The Crimson kept rolling in its late September contest against Georgetown. Harvard jumped out to another early lead as Vivano threw for three touchdowns in the first 20 minutes before resting the remainder of the game. The senior quarterback got plenty of help from his receivers, as Firkser made four catches for 134 yards in the first half. Firkser finished the day with a career high 147 yards, averaging nearly 30 yards per catch. Harvard’s defense proved just as dominant, holding Georgetown to just 266 yards of total offense. Defensive end DJ Bailey, who is currently ranked fourth in the Ivy League in sacks per game, picked up two in the bout. With the win, Harvard extended its nonconference winning streak to 16 straight games.
Cornell, 29–13 Win
Harvard picked up its second Ivy League win of the year over Cornell. Smith shouldered the load on the ground, rushing for three touchdowns on just 19 attempts. Harvard’s defense held a Cornell offense that averages 23.3 points per game to just 13 and picked off Big Red quarterback Dalton Banks three times. Banks ranks second in the Ivy League in yards per game and touchdowns passes, but Harvard forced him into making several bad decisions with safety Tanner Lee making two of those interceptions. Defeating Cornell put the Crimson at 4–0 for the fifth consecutive season and improved its streak over the Big Red to 11 games.
Holy Cross, 27–17 Loss
Harvard lost its first nonconference game since 2011 at Holy Cross, the same non-Ivy team that beat the Crimson five years ago. With Harvard’s normal starting quarterback and running back both out of action, sophomore Tom Stewart got the start behind center in place of Viviano and struggled throughout the contest. The sophomore threw an interception, lost two fumbles and was sacked six times. In total Harvard’s offense mustered just 26 rushing yards and 245 yards of total offense without a second-half score. The struggles came on a day when Holy Cross played almost flawless football. The Crusaders did not turn the ball over throughout the contest and converted on both of their fourth down attempts, with one being a 32-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12. Holy Cross running back Domenic Cozier averaged seven yards a carry, going for 112 on just 16 attempts.
Princeton, 23–20 OT Win
After a tough loss the previous week, the Crimson bounced back with a hard-fought win against Princeton in overtime. Led by Viviano, Firkser and wide receiver Adam Scott, Harvard took a 14-0 lead going into halftime. But fumbles, interceptions, and sacks plagued the Crimson’s offense and allowed the Tigers to creep back into the game in the second half. Princeton quarterback John Lovett rushed for a touchdown to tie the game with only 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter and send the game into overtime. In the extra time, Viviano converted on a third-and-three at the 18-yard line, running for a 15-yard gain down the right side and moving the ball to the Princeton three-yard line. Two plays later, he stretched into the end zone to keep the Crimson unbeaten in the Ivy League. Harvard ended the game with just 102 rushing yards, and Princeton’s offense edged Harvard’s in terms of total yards, 323-317.
Dartmouth, 23–21 Win
The Crimson held off cellar-dwelling Big Green to win by a narrow two-point margin. Though Harvard led 14–7 at the half, Dartmouth answered back with an 11-play, 79-yard drive to bring the game back within three points. Harvard scored once more and withstood a fourth-quarter comeback by the Big Green to extend its unbeaten conference season. Although it originally relied on its rushing, tallying 111 of its 167 first-half yards on the ground, the Crimson eventually turned to its aerial attack. Viviano finished 19-of-30 for 206 yards and one touchdown while Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan, who came into the game in the second quarter, threw for 301 yards.
Columbia, 28–21 Win
The Crimson fended off the Lions at Harvard Stadium in another close Ivy League matchup. Scott led the Crimson offensively, with seven receptions for a career-high 109 yards and two scores. Thanks to a lackluster first half from the Crimson offense, Columbia took a 14-7 lead heading into halftime. But Harvard came to life in the third quarter, scoring 21 points by capitalizing on forced Lions turnovers, including three interceptions. Overall, the Crimson held Columbia to just 259 yards of offense, only 66 of which came on the ground. The Crimson’s victory represented head coach Tim Murphy’s 115th victory at Harvard, moving him into second place on the all-time Ivy League wins list.
Penn, 27–14 Loss
With the conference title hanging in the balance, Harvard fell 27–14 to the Quakers at Franklin Field under the Friday night lights. Down 14–3, the Crimson scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game. It seemed as if the game would go into overtime, but Penn quarterback Alex Torgersen led the team downfield on a 10-play, 80-yard drive culminating with a strike to junior wide receiver Justin Watson in the end zone with only 15 seconds left to make it 21–14. Though Harvard gained 352 total yards compared to Penn’s 284 yards, turnovers and missed opportunities haunted the Crimson in its loss. Viviano struggled with interceptions — throwing three in the second quarter alone — and was also sacked six times.