NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Two touchdowns on the ground. Two more in the air. And in the locker room the message from Paul Stanton’s coach and captain was a reminder: Don’t relax in the second half.
‘‘This was a huge game to play in,’’ the Harvard running back said on Saturday after scoring four touchdowns to tie a record for the 138-year history of The Game, leading the Crimson to a 34-7 victory over Yale and helping them earn a share of the Ivy League title. ‘‘To go out there and play my best was awesome.’’
It was the seventh consecutive victory in The Game for Harvard (9-1, 6-1 Ivy League), which tied for the conference championship when Dartmouth beat Princeton (8-2, 6-1) later Saturday 28-24. Stanton’s four touchdowns — all in the first half — were the most since Eddie Mahan scored four times in The Game in 1915.
Harvard coach Tim Murphy said the conference championship was ‘‘almost superfluous.’’
‘‘If Dartmouth pulls it off, that’s great,’’ he said before the end of the game in Hanover, N.H. ‘‘But all you can do is give it everything you've got. There’s no regrets from this team. No regrets.’’
On a cold and windy day before a crowd of 50,934 at the 99-year-old Yale Bowl, Stanton staked the Crimson to a 28-0 lead. But it was only last week that the Crimson opened a 38-0 lead against Penn before scraping by with a 38-30 victory.
‘‘I didn’t have to say anything,’’ Murphy said. ‘‘(Captain Josh Boyd) and the seniors took the bull by the horns and said, ‘Here we go guys. Pedal to the metal.'’’
After a Harvard field goal to open the second half, Yale (5-5, 3-4) scored its only touchdown on Deon Randall’s 3-yard run. The Bulldogs forced a three-and-out — just Harvard’s second punt of the day — and after their drive stalled they forced a fumble that was the only Crimson turnover.
But Chris Splinter intercepted Yale’s Henry Furman and ran it back 33 yards to the Bulldogs’ 36 yard-line. David Mothander’s 48-yard field goal, which made it 34-7, was the longest in the 130 meetings between two of the nation’s oldest and prestigious academic institutions.
‘‘Just to make that stop, that was a special moment on the sideline,’’ said Boyd, who is part of the fourth consecutive Harvard senior class to graduate without losing to Yale. ‘‘We knew this was our last game, and we wanted to finish it the right way.’’
Conner Hempel completed 19 of 26 passes for 209 yards for Harvard, and he also ran for 57 yards. Stanton carried the ball 27 times for 118 yards and moved into third place on Harvard’s single-season scoring list with 102 points.
‘‘I feel like I didn’t really do much,’’ Hempel said. ‘‘I just flipped it up in the air, let Paul catch it and run for however many yards.’’
Furman completed 21 of 34 passes for 179 yards for Yale. Randall ran for 35 yards on nine carries and also had seven catches for 63 yards.
Yale has a 65-57-8 lead the series, which was first played in 1875, but it has lost 12 of the last 13 meetings against Harvard.
‘‘Today was a tough day for Yale football. But we've grown a ton,’’ said coach Tony Reno, whose team won two games last season — his first in New Haven. ‘‘Five wins is a big step. I was hoping we were going to get to .500; we did it.’’
Harvard moved easily on its first possession before Stanton scampered around the left side and down the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown. Yale approached midfield on a 15-yard pass from Furman to Candler Rich, but Norman Hayes knocked the ball loose and D.J. Monroe fell on it for a turnover.
Hempel took Harvard to the 21 before hitting Stanton on a screen pass and watching him run it into the end zone to make it 14-0. After Yale punted, Hempel hit Cameron Brate for a 36-yard completion to the Bulldogs 13 yard-line; an illegal formation moved it back to the 18, where Hempel again connected with Stanton on a short catch-and-run for a touchdown.
A targeting penalty — and ejection — against Harvard’s Jaron Wilson helped put Yale in field goal range, but Kyle Cazzetta missed a 39-yard field goal. Harvard again marched into scoring range before Stanton carried it the last 21 yards on four carries, including a 2-yard run that made it 28-0.
A Crimson field goal made it 31-0 early in the third quarter before Yale averted the shutout with Randall’s score.