Harvard beats Yale 34-24, wins The Game
Harvard coach Tim Murphy was leafing through the postgame statistics when he noticed a number he just had to share. He tapped his finger on Colton Chapple's shoulder pad and then on the page where it showed him with a career-best 128 rushing yards.
The Harvard quarterback's lips formed a word but made no sound: "Wow."
Chapple scrambled 18 yards for one touchdown and had a 61-yard run that set up the game-winner on Saturday to help the Crimson beat Yale 34-24 - their sixth straight victory in The Game.
It is the first time in a rivalry dating to 1875 that Harvard (8-2, 5-2 Ivy League) has beaten Yale six times in a row.
"As soon as you step foot in this program, you learn from the older guys. Every senior class that's come before me has gone undefeated against Yale," Chapple said. "To say three, four or 30 years from now, `I never lost to Yale,' it's something as a senior class we're extremely proud of.
"It's one of the most exciting games I've ever played in," said Chapple, who also completed 22 of 32 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. "It's a remarkable feeling to know that I can leave here undefeated against Yale."
Treavor Scales ran for 177 yards - tying a Harvard record for The Game - and the Crimson set an Ivy League record with 394 points over the season. But they missed a chance to share the conference championship when Pennsylvania beat Cornell 35-28 on Saturday.
"I wasn't hanging on that," said Murphy, who noted that a last-minute loss to Princeton kept the Crimson from the title. "We're one play away from being back-to-back Ivy champions. But, you know, I wouldn't be any happier."
Yale (2-8, 1-6) beat Harvard six times in a row from 1902-07 and won eight straight in the 1880s, including a 0-0 game in 1881 that was scored as an Eli victory based on the rules at the time. But Harvard has now won 11 of the last 12 meetings and 14 of 19 since Murphy took over.
This year's Yale team appeared to be especially overmatched against a rival that was, until a few minutes after the final whistle, in contention for the Ivy League title. The Elis were using a pair of wide receivers as emergency quarterbacks and had just one win in the conference.
Instead, Yale maintained a 3-3 tie at the half and took a 24-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter after Chapple, trying to get rid of the ball as he was hit, floated it toward the line of scrimmage and into the arms of defensive tackle Nick Daffin.
Tyler Varga ran it in from 2 yards out to give the Elis the lead with 7:07 left in the game. But on Harvard's next play from scrimmage, Chapple ran through the middle of the field for a 61-yard gain before he was caught from behind at the Yale 9 by cornerback Collin Bibb.
Five plays later, he hit Cameron Brate in the middle of the end zone to give the Crimson the lead for good.
After punting, Yale pushed the Crimson to a third-and-13 for a first down that could have enabled them to run out the clock. Scales broke free down the right sideline for a 63-yard touchdown that made it 34-24.
In all, there were 35 points scored in the fourth quarter.
"It's not going to be a 6-3 game. They have too good of an offense," said Yale coach Tony Reno, who used to be on Murphy's staff at Harvard.
"To coach against him is a great honor. It's really exciting to be part of this rivalry each and every year," he said. "To be able to coach this team, this year, I couldn't have had it any better. I know our won-loss record wasn't what we wanted ... but we laid the foundation. I was proud of these guys. I wouldn't change a single one of them."
It was a noble effort from Yale, which has used seven different players at quarterback this season because of injuries. The Elis won just one Ivy League game all season - against eventual conference champion Penn.
Former wide receiver Henry Furman was 13 for 20 for 158 yards and a touchdown and Derek Russell, another former receiver, completed 9 of 10 for 73 yards. Varga also took some snaps at quarterback but did not throw a pass; in all, he ran 22 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
The Game lost some of its luster when Harvard, after 10 consecutive Ivy victories - including a perfect conference record en route to the 2011 league title - lost to Princeton and, three weeks later, to Penn.
Still, the 109-year-old stadium was packed and bathed in bright sunshine until the second half, when the shadows began to creep over the closed end of the horseshoe.
That's when the game started getting interesting, too.
"We had nothing left. We gave it everything we had," Murphy said. "We didn't just have to make plays, we had to make really big plays to win the game.
"It was just a great heavyweight fight, and we landed the last punch."