10/05/2019 By Christopher Williams
Harvard University cruised to its second win of the season in a 62-17 thrashing of Howard University on Saturday, Oct. 5. The matchup was dubbed the “battle for the real HU.” This was Harvard’s first-ever matchup against a historically black college, and against the self-proclaimed “Harvard of the HBCUs.”
“People had been talking about this all offseason,” Howard head coach Ron Prince stated. “We were very excited to play, and I know that people were very excited to be here.”
Following a dominant performance against Brown last week, the Crimson proved from the get-go that a good defense is the best offense. Although Harvard would find the end zone nine times throughout the historic meeting, it was the defense and special teams unit who initially propelled the Ivy League side to victory.
After Harvard’s defense forced a quick three-and-out to start the contest, freshman defensive back Khalil Dawsey blocked Isaiah Moore’s punt to give the Crimson offense possession at the six-yard line. Junior quarterback Jake Smith handed the ball off to junior running back Devin Darrington on the ensuing play who rushed into the end zone to give the Crimson a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game. Darrington went on to rush for a total of 115 yards and three touchdowns.
“Special teams certainly set the pace for us – giving us great field position, great momentum, put points on the board,” Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy said, “That was obviously the biggest difference in the game.”
Perhaps the most important contribution from the special teams unit came just seven seconds into the second quarter as sophomore running back DeMarkes Stradford blocked Isaiah Moore’s punt and recovered the ball in the end zone to record his first career touchdown.
“This is my first game, so I just embraced the opportunity that I had,” Stradford said. “I just went out and did my best to do my job.” Offensively, Stradford ran for 108 yards on six carries and tallied two touchdowns.
The Crimson special teams unit blocked a total of three punts in the first half, just one block shy of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) record for punts blocked in a single game.
Harvard went on to score 27 more points in the second quarter to lead Howard 41-3 at the half. Howard’s only points of the first half came off of a 34-yard field goal from freshman kicker Nick Fariss.
The Crimson defense started the second half just as it started the first. Harvard forced a three-and-out drive for the Bison, setting up the subsequent drive that led to Stradford scoring his second touchdown of the game.
Jake Smith was replaced by sophomore quarterback Luke Emge midway through the third quarter. Smith finished the game throwing 7-14 with an interception and a touchdown pass to junior running back B.J. Watson.
The Bison were able to generate some momentum on offense in the tail end of the outing as positional changes were made by both teams. Freshman quarterback Quinton Williams – who replaced junior quarterback Caylin Newton, the younger brother of NFL quarterback Cam Newton, in the starting role for the past two games – found redshirt senior Michael Cornwell in the end zone at the end of the third quarter to make the score 55-10. Junior wide receiver Jordan Aley rushed for another score in the fourth quarter.
Despite the scoreline and his team’s overall performance, both head coaches sung the praises of Williams after the game.
“Obviously it’s tough circumstances when all of a sudden you’re down a couple scores and you have to play the clock, you have to throw the ball,” Murphy said about the opposing quarterback. “I thought he showed great leadership and great poise.”
“Quinton Williams is a winner,” Prince stated. “He’s learning and I’m very proud of him. He’s been fantastic, and from the day he arrived, we could see the talent. We didn’t give him enough protection today and didn’t do a good enough job as coaches to put him in a position where he could be successful.”
The freshman quarterback completed 13 of 24 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown.
Following the loss, Howard head coach Ron Prince spoke about the significance of being the first HBCU team to play against Harvard.
“I told them in the locker that we made history today.” Prince said. “They’re not going to build any statues for us just because of how the game turned out, but we had to come in here and take our shot at it.”
This victory extended Harvard’s record to 2-1 overall. As for Howard, the Bison fell to 1-5 overall.
“There’s a lot of things that we can improve upon,” Murphy said, “but we just got on a roll. It was just one of those days.”
Harvard will look to remain undefeated in conference play when the Crimson host Cornell University next Saturday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.