BOSTON – Rhode Island (0-3) fell behind by three touchdowns before the end of the first quarter and never recovered in a 51-21 loss at No. 22 Harvard Friday night.
Harvard quarterback Joe Viviano passed for three touchdowns and rushed for a third to lead a Crimson offense that led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Rams went three-and-out on their first two possessions before losing a fumble on their third drive. The Crimson (1-0) capitalized, driving for touchdowns on each of their first three possessions.
Harvard took its opening possession 61 yards in six plays for a quick 7-0 lead at 11:05 of the first quarter. Anthony Firkser caught a 16-yard pass from Viviano to cap the drive, which took just 2:08 to complete.
On its next drive, Harvard converted a fourth-and-6 at the Rhody 32, as Viviano connected with Firkser for a 29-yard pass. One play later, Semar Smith ran it in from 8 yards out to help the Crimson move to a 14-0 advantage at 5:56 of the first quarter.
Rhode Island fumbled at its own 22-yard line on its third drive. On third down, Viviano appeared to be hemmed up in the backfield, but he broke free and scrambled for the 8-yard touchdown run to push the lead to three touchdowns.
The Rams got on the board on the final play of the opening half. Following a 33-yard kick return by Khayri Denny, quarterback Paul Mroz came in to lead a 12-play, 55-yard scoring drive. As time expired, Mroz scored from 1 yard out on a second-effort run to help Rhody cut the deficit to 24-7.
Thoughts of a comeback were dashed quickly when Harvard scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half to push the lead back to 23 points.