NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale defeated the Harvard 24-3 in the Only Game That Matters on Saturday afternoon.
After an opening-drive Harvard field goal, Yale scored 24 unanswered points aided by turnovers and an option game that never should have been an option for the Crimson. Yale’s defense put on a performance for the ages. Their passing and running game played well enough to win.
After a 46-yard reception by JP Shohfi that brought the ball inside the ten-yard line, the sophomore Yale receiver caught a short Kurt Rawlings touchdown pass several plays later at 6:26 of the second quarter. Less than a minute later, Malcolm Dixon scooped up a Harvard fumble that the Bulldog linebacker took to the house after an ill-advised pitch that followed a solid quarterback run on the option. Yale closed the half with a field goal to make it 17-3.
In addition to that defensive touchdown, Yale intercepted two passes, recovered another option fumble, and registered six sacks.
As Yale steamrolled over a rival recently accustomed to steamrolling them, the Harvard student section offered “Safety school” and “I’d rather vote for Trump than be at Yale” chants.
But the Bulldogs dogged defense not only shut out the Crimson past that opening drive, they outscored them as well. And Yale’s student section offered a visual rebuttal to their Cantabrigian antagonists. Students near the end zone disrobed, as tradition dictates, to start the third quarter. Trousers remained on most but a few Yalies indulged the impulse for public nudity despite the wet, overcast, fortysomething-degree day. With the game out of reach, Harvard students, disinterested and confused by football to begin with, used the backdrop to take selfies at an event seen as much as a social event or class reunion as a game.
Like last year, when the full-frontal nudity of a more brash and aggressive sort spurred on a dramatic Bulldogs victory at Harvard Stadium, Yale rewarded the student section with a third and final touchdown at 12:44 of the fourth quarter when Zane Dudek, who ran for 64 punishing yards on 25 total carries on the day, rumbled into the end zone to make it 24-3 following a point-after touchdown.
After a Deonte Henderson interception of a Harvard pass with a minute left, a badly trailing Crimson team called a series of meaningless timeouts to the vocal disapproval of the home crowd. To end the game, Rawlings heaved the ball on fourth down toward his own sideline as time expired.
Yalies poured onto the muddy field in a raucous celebration. The Crimson departed losers of two in a row after taking nine straight from their rivals. The victory gave football founding father Walter Camp’s team — the onetime powerhouse of all of college football — their first unshared Ivy League title since 1980.
The school that essentially invented the modern gridiron game appeared much more serious about their program even before the title became theirs. Benches in the Yale Bowl, deteriorating with specks of blue over exposed, rotting wood at the rivalry game two years ago, appeared painted over or replaced, befitting the history and grandeur of the 103-year-old stadium. Two years ago, fans streamed into the stadium without the hassle of ticket-takers ensuring payment for seats. On Saturday, painfully long lines behind magnetometers delayed thousands of fans entry into an 80 percent full Yale Bowl.
Yale, a school long serious about scholarship and studies, appears again serious about the highest-profile of their sports teams. And they possess a trophy as proof of this.