PROVIDENCE — Harvard captain Bobby Schneider said the team prepared for a war leading up to its Ivy League opener against Brown Saturday. The Crimson proved to be ready for battle as they won their FCS-leading 11th consecutive game, 45-31.
Running back Treavor Scales led the charge with 136 yards and four touchdowns, numbers he said he hadn’t put up since his Pee-Wee football days. Scales has 2,130 rushing yards in his career and is tied for fifth place in Harvard history with Vic Gatto, who graduated in 1969.
On Harvard’s first play from scrimmage, Scales was stuffed for a 4-yard loss by Brown tackle Stephen Fox. After that, he had only one other carry for negative yardage. He hit holes and picked apart the Brown defense.
“I was quoted somewhere saying he was one of the five best players in the league, but the quote really was that he’s one of the five best players at any position,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said.
Scales showed off on consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter, which bookended a Brown punt. First, he broke through for a 41-yard run on third and 5 to give Harvard a 38-24 lead. About seven minutes later, he dragged a couple of defenders into the end zone on a 20-yard rush, making it a 45-24 game.
“When a guy like Treav can go make plays like that, it makes us look good,” center Jack Holuba said. “Once you get past that second level, it’s off to the races. Treavor was just off.”
Scales credited the line with opening holes “as wide as an 18-wheeler.”
“It’s a rush. You know, if my boys make it to the second level, I have to get there. It becomes an obligation to reap the benefits of the work they’re putting in,” Scales said. “This group of guys we have up front are so athletic . . . I don’t have to do much work at all, I just have to run.”
Harvard presented a very balanced attack. The Crimson ran the ball 37 times and attempted 40 passes. Quarterback Colton Chapple was second in rushing attempts with 15, three fewer than Scales.
Chapple hit on 75 percent of his throws. He started Harvard’s first possession with five straight completions as he led the Crimson to the Brown 8. Scales brought Harvard to the 1 but the drive stalled and the Crimson settled for a field goal, trailing Brown’s opening touchdown with 5:25 to play in the first quarter.
The defense forced a Brown punt, but the Bears pinned the Crimson at their 2. Brown seemed to have the momentum.
The Crimson, however, took off on an 18-play, 98-yard drive (plus an extra 5 yards for a false start penalty) to take a lead they would not relinquish.
On the drive, Chapple threw nine passes for 76 yards and rushed twice for 20. Scales rushed three times for 7 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown dive over the pile.
“Any time a team can do that, it takes all the momentum we have from a great punt, sticking them on the 2-yard line,” Brown coach Phil Estes said. “It’s a game of field position. We put them in bad field position and they found a way to get out.”
Though Harvard led for 50:25, the Bears challenged right down to the final minute as they took three shots into the end zone before time ran out.
The Crimson gave up 336 yards through the air one week after allowing 354 to San Diego.
But Chapple said Saturday’s win was an improvement in that Harvard played four consistent quarters.
With their 12th victory in their last 14 Ivy League openers, the Crimson are on their way to defending their conference title.