Harvard Edges Yale 28-21 in The JV Game

Russell Perkins. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Russell Perkins. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Get a Pair of Interceptions and Fumble Recoveries

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A pair of third-quarter touchdown runs provided the difference Friday afternoon at Harvard Stadium in The JV Game, as Harvard edged Yale 28-21. The Crimson overcame a pair of interceptions and lost fumbles, including one interception and one fumble recovery by sophomore defensive back Russell Perkins.

Harvard drove 68 yards in 13 plays on its first possession, ending with running back Andrew Ezekoye diving into the end zone from one yard out. The point-after kick was no good.

The Bulldogs had a pair of fumble recoveries in the first half, and the first one (recovered by Perkins) set the offense up at the Yale 45. A 31-yard completion from freshman quarterback John Whitelaw to sophomore wide receiver John Runk followed, but that drive ended with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-five from the Harvard 19.

After Perkins and freshman defensive back Chris Brady ended a Harvard possession at the start of the second quarter by breaking up a third-down pass, the Bulldog offense put together a 73-yard scoring drive. The key play came when a scrambling Whitelaw found freshman wide receiver Alex Flanders for a 37-yard completion inside the Harvard one-yard line. Three plays later, Whitelaw plunged in to the end zone and Flanders' extra point gave Yale a 7-6 lead at 9:23 of the second quarter.

An interception by junior linebacker Ben Ashcraft ended the next Harvard drive -- and when the Bulldog offense stalled at the Yale 34, the second fumble recovery of the game came into play. Sophomore quarterback Derek Russell recovered the muffed return at the Harvard 19. Three plays later, play action freed up freshman tight end Trevor Peterson for an eight-yard touchdown toss from Whitelaw.

Ashcraft broke up a third-down pass to help end Harvard's next drive, but the Bulldogs were unable to run out the clock on the first half. The Crimson got the ball back at its own 40 with 1:45 to play. It took just over a minute for Harvard to tie the game, as an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Pruneau to wide receiver Curtis Ross was followed by a fake on the point-after attempt that ended with the Crimson getting a two-point conversion to tie the game 14-14.

Brady saved a touchdown with a tackle deep in Yale territory on the opening kickoff of the second half. Still, the Crimson started at the Bulldog 18 and needed just three plays to get into the end zone (a four-yard run by Damani Wilson) for a 21-14 lead.

Freshman quarterback Jake Semones fielded the Crimson's attempt at a surprise onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of the field position edge. That drive ended with a missed field goal, and the next Yale possession ended with an interception that set up a Harvard touchdown drive. The Crimson went ahead 28-14 with 7:40 left in the third quarter when Pruneau scrambled for a 12-yard score.

A pair of three-and-outs from the Yale defense kept the Elis within striking distance as the third quarter came to an end. Perkins then intercepted a Harvard pass on the first Crimson drive of the fourth quarter, giving Yale the ball at the Cantab 34. But on fourth-and-two from the Harvard 12, a fumble ended that Yale drive.

Sophomore linebacker Brian Leffler stopped Harvard's next drive with a tackle on a third-down run that left the Crimson two yards shy of a first down. The Yale offense took over at its own 46 after the punt, and pounded away with eight runs by freshman running back Elijah Thomas for 35 yards. The last was a plunge into the end zone from less than a yard out, pulling the Bulldogs within 28-21. Just 52 seconds remained on the clock, however.

The Yale defense was able to force a Harvard punt, as a tackle for loss by freshman defensive lineman Obinna Nwakeze on third down stopped the Crimson's attempt to run the clock out. But an interception on the first play of Yale's drive ended any chances of a Yale comeback.

The JV team ends the season with a 1-3 record, including a win over Army.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity