WORCESTER — Sophomore Paul Stanton burst up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to lift Harvard to a pulsating 41-35 triple-overtime win over Holy Cross at Fitton Field Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson (3-0) remained unbeaten with their third 40-point outing of the year, while Holy Cross dropped to 2-4.
It was Harvard’s first triple-OT victory since the 30-24 thriller at the Yale Bowl in 2005.
The teams traded touchdowns on the first series of OT — Holy Cross freshman Peter Pujals hooking up with senior Mike Fess on a 7-yard strike, and junior Conner Hempel tossing 3 yards to tight end Tyler Ott for Harvard. In the second session, each turned to the run, with Stanton barreling in from a yard out, and Holy Cross’s Kalif Randolph countering with a 5-yard burst to the left pylon.
The Crimson forced overtime with an 84-yard drive engineered by Hempel in the final two minutes, the capper a 9-yard laser to his senior tight end, Cameron Brate, just inside the back line of the end zone. His 38-yard connection to Andrew Berg down the right sideline to the 15 set up the equalizer.
That answered an eight-play, 91-yard go-ahead drive from Pujals and the Crusaders, with the terrific freshman finding senior Nate Stanley in the back right corner of the end zone with a 20-yard toss.
Harvard surged ahead, 14-7, on the Crusaders’ first series of the second half, when junior end Zach Hodges popped the ball free from Pujals and linebacker Eric Medes pounced on the loose ball in the end zone.
But Pujals put the Crusaders on his back again, taking Holy Cross 69 yards for the tying score, a 6-yard toss to a wide-open Stanley on the right side of the end zone, the senior slipping behind safety Chris Splinter.
The Crimson turned the Crusaders’ second fumble of the first quarter into the game’s first points, a 12-yard burst by junior tailback Andrew Casten, the finish to a quick four-play drive. Again, Hodges knocked the ball free from Pujals, with Nnamdi Obekwelu on the recovery.
In the second quarter, Pujals (16 of 23, 169 yards in the first half) directed the Crusaders on an 11-play, 85-yard march, culminating with a 6-yard pass into the back of the end zone to Fess for a 7-7 game.
Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.