The kickoff week for Ivy League football, saw the teams with seasoned quarterbacks struggle. Junior Jeff Mathews of Cornell put up impressive numbers, throwing for well over 400 yards, but the Big Red couldn’t find the win. Similarly, senior Billy Ragone of Penn threw five interceptions in Penn’s loss to Lafayette. But Harvard came out on top, winning its 12th consecutive season opener.
Brown opened the season with an impressive 24-21 comeback win against Holy Cross (0-2). Entering the fourth quarter down by 11, the Bears were led to victory by quarterback Patrick Donnelly, who threw a touchdown pass on a 13-play, 75-yard drive. Donnelly then ran for a touchdown on the next drive with only 1:24 remaining. Fresh off the bench after two years of injury, Brown senior running back Spiro Theodhosi made up for lost time, rushing 120 yards on only 20 carries. The game was clinched when Brown cornerback A.J. Cruz intercepted Holy Cross quarterback Kevin Watson on the final drive.
Led by running back Carlton Koonce, who ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns, Fordham (2-1) overcame a massive performance by Mathews, who threw for 489 yards and three touchdowns. Rams quarterback Ryan Higgins also played well, passing for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Fordham was behind by one at the half, but two passing touchdowns from Higgins and two rushing touchdowns from Koonce in the second half gave the Rams the victory. Even in defeat, Cornell (0-1) receivers Grant Gellatly and Luke Tasker had impressive games, with 13 catches for 181 yards and 10 catches for 177 yards, respectively.
Dartmouth (1-0) earned its third consecutive season-opening win with Saturday’s 35-7 blowout over Butler (1-2). Led by junior running back Dominick Pierre, who carried the ball 26 times for a career-high 170 yards, the Big Green completed nine of 14 attempted third-down conversions and found success on all three of its trips to the red zone. Despite quarterback Matt Lancaster’s 267 passing yards, the Bulldogs struggled on offense, missing an early field goal, converting only four of 15 plays on third down, and capitalizing on just one of their trips to the red zone.
The Crimson (1-0), the defending Ivy League champion, kicked its their season with a 28-13 victory over the University of San Diego (1-2). After three quarters, Harvard was trailing, 13-7. The Toreros controlled the pace for the first three quarters of the game, as University of San Diego quarterback Mason Mills racked up 354 passing yards. But Harvard scored 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points, including two touchdowns from senior running back Treavor Scales, who ran for a career-high 173 rushing yards on only 19 carries.
Penn (0-1) opened its season with a disappointing loss to Lafayette (2-0). Ragone threw five interceptions, and his backup, senior Andrew Holland, added two more, tying a Penn school record for seven interceptions in a single game. Even though Penn nearly doubled Lafayette’s number of total yards (423 to 236), the Quakers couldn’t overcome their eight turnovers, and were unable to come back from the 21-0 lead the Leopards had built up in the first quarter. Penn scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the rally effort was too little and too late.
Lehigh (3-0) won its third consecutive season opener against Princeton (0-1) with Saturday’s close 17-14 victory. Running backs Zach Barket and Keith Sherman both scored rushing touchdowns for the Mountain Hawks in the first half, leaving Lehigh with a 17-0 lead heading into halftime. On the day, Lehigh almost doubled Princeton’s yardage, tallying 405. Led by Akil Sharp, who rushed for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Tigers put pressure on the Mountain Hawks near the end of the game, but were forced to punt on their final drive. Lehigh quarterback Michael Colvin then connected with tight end Dylan Colgate for 27 yards to put to rest any chance of a Princeton comeback.
In the first game under new coach Tony Reno, Yale (1-0) defeated Georgetown in a 24-21 comeback victory. Led by quarterback Eric Williams, who threw for 250 yards, the Bulldogs opened the game with a 90-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown by Tyler Varga. After the Hoyas (2-1) responded with touchdowns on a 79-yard punt return and a 41-yard interception return, sophomore wide receiver Cameron Sandquist caught a school-record 98-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulldogs ahead. Georgetown’s Dalen Claytor, part of the Hoyas’ rushing attack that collected 260 rushing yards, scored on a 32-yard rush, giving Georgetown a 21-17 lead. But Collin Bibb picked off Hoyas’ quarterback Aaron Aiken with 33 seconds on the clock, setting up the go-ahead touchdown run by Varga.