Emge Shines for Harvard in First Career Start

Courtesy The Columbia Spectator

MANHATTAN, N.Y. – There is some science that has long been undeniable.

Isaac Newton taught the world a lesson more than 400 years ago that for ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And as Harvard rolled up the yards and added more points to the scoreboard, whatever hopes Columbia had of winning an Ivy League championship went in the other direction as the Crimson scored the first 42 points of the game on the way to a 49-21 win over the Lions on Nov. 6 at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium in Manhattan.

The win improved the Crimson to 3-2 in the Ivy League and 6-2 overall while Columbia falls to 2-3 in league play and 5-3 in all games this season. 

Dartmouth and Princeton, along with Yale, share the top spot in the league standings with 3-1 records. The Big Green defeated the Tigers 31-7 on Friday in Hanover while Yale kept pace with a 63-38 win over Brown on Saturday.

Harvard is alone in fourth place in the league and still has a chance to win the Ivy League title. Columbia, meanwhile, is all but eliminated from title contention following Saturday’s setback.

Junior running back Aaron Shampklin bounces a run to the outside against Ivy League foe Columbia on Saturday. Shampklin’s 75 yards and two touchdowns on the ground formed a formidable 1-2 punch with backfield-mate Aidan Borguet, who ran for 98 yards and two scores as well. (Owen Berger/Harvard Crimson)

It took the visiting Crimson little time to set the tone in the game. Luke Emge, who was making his first career start at quarterback for Harvard, led his team an impressive 76-yard drive in just six plays to grab the early lead. Aaron Shampklin ran in from five yards out and J Lipel added the extra point to give the visitors the lead just 2:39 into the contest. It was the first of two touchdowns on the day for Shampklin, a junior. He added his final score of the day with a one-yard scamper less than seven minutes as the Crimson extended its lead to 14-0. It was his ninth touchdown of the season.

Harvard virtually put the game out of reach by scoring three times in the second quarter on three scoring strikes from Emge. His first TD toss of the afternoon went for two yards to Adam West and he added another score on a 15-yard pass to Adam Shepherd with 6:51 to play in the half.

The Emge and the Crimson added another score for good measure with an 11-yard scoring reception by Kym Wimberly for a 35-0 advantage with 31 seconds remaining in the first half.

Harvard racked up 331 yards of offense on 39 plays in the opening half and averaged 8.5 yards per play. The Crimson defense limited the Lions to just 144 yards on 38 plays (3.8 ypp) in the half that foreshadowed how the rest of the afternoon would transpire for Columbia. 

Aidan Borguet picked up where Harvard left off by scoring on a 22-yard run early in the second half to give his team a 42-0 cushion with 9:42 to go in the quarter. It was the first of two touchdowns on the day for Borguet, who scored the final point of the game on a 10-yard run with 4:22 remaining in the game.

Columbia avoided the shutout when Joe Green right in from six yards out and Jonah Lipel kicked the extra point to pull the Lions to within 42-7 with 4:44 to play in the third quarter.

Columbia scored two within a span of 69 seconds early in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a semblance of hope in the game.

Green connected with Luke Painton on an 11-yard pass play with 11:33 to go. On the first play following a quick 3-and-out by the Crimson, Dante Miller took the handoff, found the right sideline and ran in virtually untouched from 40 yards out and Columbia found itself trailing 42-21 with 10:24 to go in the game before Bourget’s second tally of the game.

“We had very little energy and passion and it was noticeable today,” coach Al Bagnoli said of his Columbia team after the game. “We didn’t play well in any capacity and we weren’t ready to play. Couple that with some medical issues we’re dealing with and it turns into the perfect storm. 

“I like to think it’s not representative of our program, but we have to live with the results,” he added. “That falls on me. It starts with me, it’s not a day I’m very proud of and hopefully, our team is not proud of because we’ve worked way too hard to put that kind of product out there.”

Bourget finished the game with a game-high 98 yards on the ground and Shampklin added 75 yards of his own. Emge completed 17 of 25 passes in his first collegiate start and finished the game with 227 yards in the contest. Wimberly had a huge day for the Crimson through the air. He caught 10 passes for 109 yards, including 40 yards that came after the catch.

Harvard held a 473-265 edge in total yards on the afternoon which put a damper on the play of Columbia standout defensive back Jordan Colbert who posted a career-high 13 tackles in the game. The Crimson defense, which entered the game with the top rush defense in the FCS (56.4 ypg) held the Lions to just 49 yards on the ground in the game.

Miller tallied 65 yards on 11 carries to lead the Lions while Green completed 18 of 34 passes for 213 yards in the game. His favorite target on day was Marcus Libman who had 10 catches for 53 yards.

It was the 127th conference victory in the career of Harvard coach Tim Murphy as he moved into a tie for second place with Columbia mentor Al Bagnoli in that department.

The offensive explosion by Harvard marked the third time this season the Crimson have scored at least 40 points in a game. The scored 49 points in a 49-17 triumph over Brown in the second game of the year after defeating Georgetown 44-9 in the season opener.

Harvard will play host to Penn next week before closing the season with its annual clash with rival Yale on Nov. 20 at the Yale Bowl. Columbia, meanwhile, will entertain Brown next week before closing the season at Cornell.