Rhode Island, 17–10 Loss
To begin its 2017–18 season, Harvard was unable to repeat last year’s dominant 51–21 victory over Rhode Island, this time dropping a 17–10 decision. Despite a stellar performance by running back Charlie Booker, who rushed for a then-career high 139 yards — including runs of 50 and 57 yards — the Crimson were unable to keep their offense on schedule. This was particularly evident in the second half, as both teams remained scoreless. Quarterback Joe Viviano finished 17–32 for 192 yards through the air. Tim Haehl, Anthony Camargo and Tanner Lee lead the charge on the defensive side of the ball, finishing with 8 tackles apiece for the Crimson. Tragically, Harvard freshman cornerback Ben Abercrombie sustained a major spinal injury after a collision with a Rhode Island receiver; he remains in recovery and has been moved to Atlanta for treatment.
Brown, 45–28 Win
Harvard rode an inspired defensive performance to a 45–28 win over Brown. Wearing “BA” decals on the back of their helmets to honor the injured Abercrombie, the defense shutout the Bears’ offense for the first three quarters. The Crimson defense even got on the board when safety Tanner Lee returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown to give Harvard a 14–2 first-quarter lead; Harvard would notch two more interceptions later in the game. The Crimson’s offense came to life after quarterback Joe Viviano was inserted into the game in the second quarter. Viviano went 5–5 for 76 yards on his first drive, which Lavance Northington capped off with a six-yard rushing touchdown. That Northington touchdown was one of four Crimson rushing touchdowns on the day. Charlie Booker found the endzone twice, and Aaron Shampklin ran one in as well.
Georgetown, 41–2 Win
Harvard played its best game of the season against Georgetown, dominating on offense, defense and special teams. Harvard opened scoring on special teams, as First-Team All-Ivy receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley returned a punt for 91 yards with 12:38 left in the first quarter. On defense, Raishuan McGhee picked off a pass and returned it for a 23 yard score. The stout Crimson defense held the Hoyas to only 201 yards of offense. The Crimson offense was similarly dominant, finishing with more than 450 yards. Charlie Booker scored two rushing touchdowns for the second week in a row and quarterbacks Jake Smith and Joe Viviano finished with a combined 280 passing yards. The one blemish for the Crimson was an inadvertent snap that sailed out of the endzone on a punt, resulting in a safety and giving Georgetown its only points of the game.
Cornell, 17–14 Loss
After jumping out to to a 14–0 lead in the second quarter off a 36-yard Jake Smith pass, Harvard looked poised to roll to a 12th consecutive win against a winless-Cornell team. But that touchdown pass would be the high point of the game for the Crimson. Harvard was simply unable to stop Cornell’s running game; after having not allowed the Big Red to rush for 100 yards against them since 2005, Cornell amassed 233 yards on the day. Cornell was similarly dominant on defense, holding the Crimson to just 223 yards of total offense. Harvard was unable to get anything going on the ground, finishing with just 62 yards on 2.1 yards per carry. The loss to Cornell dropped Harvard to 1–1 in conference play.
Lafayette, 38-10 Win
Harvard suffered no hangover coming off the upset loss to the Big Red. The Crimson rolled to a 38–10 win over Lafayette behind two special teams scores and a huge game by Charlie Booker. Justice Shelton-Mosley — one of the most dangerous return men in the FCS — ran back a Leopard punt for an 85-yard touchdown to open the scoring for the Crimson. Not to be outdone, wide receiver Adam Scott returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown at the start of the second half. Booker set a new career high for rushing yards in a game, finishing with 159 yards against the Lafayette. Senior linebacker Brandon Bryant lead the way on defense, finishing with eight solo tackles and 11 assisted tackles. The Crimson dominated the Leopard’s offensive line, allowing only 12 yards on the ground. The Crimson secondary was equally stifling, holding quarterback Sean O’Malley to just 4.1 net yards per pass attempt.
Princeton, 52–17 Loss
Harvard put up little resistance against a Princeton team fresh off a 53-0 battering of the beleaguered Brown Bears. The Tigers’ offensive went off in an explosive manner, as quarterback Chad Kanoff threw for 421 yards and two touchdown passes. Princeton’s star wide receiver Jesper Horsted tallied a whopping 246 yards and two scores on the day. In comparison, Crimson quarterback Jake Smith mustered 268 yards with an interception. This performance was compounded by a fumble and four crucial drives in which Harvard punted or turned it over on downs. The defeat handed the Crimson its second loss in conference play, and evened their overall winning percentage to .500.
Dartmouth, 25–22 Win
In a tight affair, the Crimson bounced back from the tough loss to the Tigers with a brilliant rally against the Big Green. After initially falling behind 14–0 midway through the second quarter, Harvard came back strong, with Jake Smith throwing for three touchdowns and adding 64 yards on the ground. A solid rushing performance, behind 83 yards from Charlie Booker, also helped the cause. Harvard cut the deficit to two points after their first drive of the second half and then went on to take a permanent lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. A last minute interception by Tanner Lee sealed the deal for the Crimson.
Columbia, 21–14 Win
Columbia came into the contest with Harvard fresh off its first defeat of the season at the hands of Yale, but came up short again a week after the Bulldogs spoiled the Lions’ best start to the season since 1996. Quarterback Joe Viviano was good for three touchdowns — two in the air and one on the ground — as he came on to replace the struggling rookie Jake Smith, who threw four, first-half interceptions. Columbia was equally plagued by offensive struggles, turning the ball over three times, including two interceptions and a fumble by Shelton-Mosley. The teams tallied just 571 yards of offense combined. Both teams fell in line in the standings, a game behind Yale in the Ancient Eight title race.
Penn, 23–6 Loss
A decisive defeat to Penn in Cambridge put an end to Harvard’s chances for an Ivy League title in 2017–18. Penn running back Tre Solomon kicked the game off for the Quakers with a 77 yard rushing touchdown; he ran for a stellar 181 yards off 15 carries in the game. Penn gave itself a cushion on the scoreboard with a 19-yard pass from Will Fischer-Colbrie to Justin Watson early on in the third quarter, to establish as 17–3 lead. The Crimson offense struggled mightily, amassing five total turnovers. The pair of Crimson quarterbacks managed just 190 yards through the air on 14 completions, and running back Booker tallied just 35 yards on 14 carries.
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