It took one offensive play for the Harvard football team to set the tone.
Shane McLaughlin broke free for a 79-yard rushing touchdown, and the Crimson never looked back, opening their 150th season with a 45-13 win over St. Thomas (Minn.) on Saturday at Harvard Stadium.
The Crimson scored 31 points in the first half — 21 in the first quarter alone — and stifled the Tommies (1-2) defensively as they turned turnovers into points.
“Not sure we would have thought that it would be a score like that, but we came out and played great defense, and any time you play great defense and going into fourth quarter you’ve got a goose egg, you’ve got a chance to win,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “Any good program, it all starts with that.”
After the defense made a stop on fourth down, McLaughlin found a seam down the sideline and raced in for the opening score. McLaughlin finished with five carries for 96 yards.
On their next drive, the Crimson went 52 yards in three plays, with Jaden Craig punching in a quarterback keeper from the 4-yard line. Minutes later, Harvard turned a St. Thomas fumble into more points when Isaiah Abbey rumbled in for a 25-yard score.
The Harvard defense forced four turnovers, none more notable than safety Ty Bartrum’s 96-yard interception return for a touchdown, stopping the most promising St. Thomas drive of the second quarter.
“They ran that play a couple of times on that drive,” Bartrum said. “It was just right to me. When I saw the grass [in front of me], I knew it was a lot. It felt great, at the 50 or 40 you might’ve seen me cool off a bit, but I was just reading the blocks.”
Crimson quarterback Charles DePrima had a game-high 113 rushing yards, including a 69-yard touchdown on a keeper, in his first career start. He threw for a touchdown and an interception while totaling 92 passing yards.
Harvard hosts Brown for an Ivy League opener Friday.