The play call was a simple second-and-1 seam route over the middle, Colton Chapple to fellow senior Kyle Juszczyk, affectionately known around campus as “Juice.”
The 6-foot-3-inch, 245-pound Juszczyk is listed on the Harvard depth chart as “SL,” or slash, for his versatility to play fullback, H-back, tight end, or receiver.
On this particular play with less than two minutes left in the second quarter Saturday, “Juice” put all of those skills on full display for the 9,558 chilled folks at Harvard Stadium.
Juszczyk hauled in Chapple’s pass just inside the Bucknell 40, spun, lowered his head, bounced off three Bison defenders, and broke free. At the 12, he shed the last obstacle, safety Jaylen Amaker, and lumbered into the end zone, completing a 59-yard rumble.
“There always seems to be debris in his path, carnage, it’s different,” said Harvard coach Tim Murphy with a smile. “I didn’t expect him to take it to the house.”
His catch-and-run was one of three touchdowns of 50-plus yards for 21st-ranked Harvard, which extended its Championship Subdivision-best winning streak to 14 games with a 35-7 thumping of Bucknell.
“As a little kid, I was told that it hurt less if you hit them before they hit you,” said Juszczyk, now in the top 10 in receiving yards (1,211) in program history.
“Colton delivered a great ball.”
Chapple (11-of-18 passing, 189 yards, 2 TDs) continued his stellar play in directing the Crimson’s explosive attack. His 59-yard gallop with 4:35 left in the third quarter capped a career-best rushing day (120 yards and two TDs on eight carries) in which he showed his improved athleticism.
“It seems to be a running joke, everyone on the team is shocked at how much athletic ability I have,” said Chapple with a smirk. “I think my running helps our offense get into rhythm.”
Take note that the 6-2, 195-pound Chapple, 11-1 as a starter, sits atop the all-time Crimson quarterback list in terms of yards per play (7.4), ahead of Neil Rose (6.9) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (6.7).
While the Crimson offense racked up its fourth 30-point performance in five games, the Harvard D, spearheaded by a dominant front seven, held Bucknell (1-5) to 0.6 yards per carry (23 yards on 37 rushes). Only a Jeremiah Young 1-yard plunge with 59 seconds remaining, the closer on a 91-yard march, prevented Harvard from recording its first shutout since a 10-0 win against Yale in the 2008 season finale.
“I don’t think that is an Ivy League defensive line,” lauded Bucknell fourth-year coach Joe Susan, who felt Harvard’s unit was better than the one Delaware fielded against his Bison in a 19-3 loss in September.
“88 [senior tackle Nnamdi Obukwelu], 99 [sophomore end Zach Hodges], and 62 [senior tackle John Lyon] pose real matchup problems.”
The trio registered three of Harvard’s six sacks of Bucknell QB Brandon Wesley (20 of 28, 189 yards).
“We want teams to throw the ball, you won’t run on us, we won’t let that happen, that is our job,” said Hodges, emphasizing the last point.
Harvard (5-0) kicks off its season-closing, five-game Ivy League slate next Saturday with a trip to Princeton. The Tigers (3-2, 2-0) delivered an impressive statement Saturday, blanking visiting Brown, 19-0, to halt the Bears’ league-record 162-game scoring streak.
The Crimson cashed in on the second Bucknell turnover for a 7-0 lead. Junior linebacker Matt Martindale popped the ball free from Charles Thompson, with Jaron Wilson pouncing on the recovery at the Bucknell 27.
Chapple followed an 18-yard third-and-7 scramble with a 6-yard keeper into the end zone untouched.
That touchdown triggered a 21-point second-quarter outburst.
Chapple connected with junior tight end Cameron Brate on a 14-yard, right-to-left crossing pattern across the back of the end zone for a 14-0 cushion, finishing off a six-play, 71-yard march.
Less than two minutes later, freshman wideout Andrew Fischer showed off his quick feet, taking a handoff from tailback Treavor Scales on the reverse 58 yards down the left sideline for a 21-0 spread.
In the first 30 minutes, the big-play Crimson piled up 320 yards on 32 plays. (The Bison had 90 on 29 calls.)
Chapple was picked off on his fifth attempt, a short toss to the left, by linebacker Evan Byers (three picks in two weeks) at the Crimson 28.
But Bucknell was unable to capitalize. Wesley’s first-down throw from the 12 landed in the arms of Crimson junior safety Chris Splinter in the end zone, thanks to a tip inside the 5 from senior linebacker Josh Boyd.