Harvard takes on Merrimack in FCS football action on Friday, September 16.
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The game (7 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on TV, but anyone in the US can watch Merrimack vs Harvard live on ESPN+ right here:
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Merrimack vs Harvard Preview
The Ivy League favorite Harvard Crimson opens its season against the Merrimack College Warriors (1-1) on Friday.
Led by the winningest coach in Ivy League history in Tim Murphy, Harvard went 8-2 last season. This year’s Crimson returns defensive players that boasted one of the best defenses in the FCS. The Crimson allowed 64.6 rushing yards per game and gave up only 14.9 points per game.
“It takes a village to be successful in a competitive venture, and we’ve had a great village for a long time, especially realizing that this village is ever-changing,” Murphy said via The Harvard Gazette’s Juan Siliezar. “There’s always a graduating senior class; there are always assistant coaches who move on. What it comes down to is we’ve done a good job recruiting and developing student athletes and coaches here.”
“We’ve had some really outstanding ones,” Murphy added. “That has all allowed us to compete at a very high level, consistently, for a good amount of time now.”
Playing Harvard for the first time, Merrimack has two games under its belt already. The Warriors fell to a ranked Holy Cross squad 31-17 to kick off the season but routed Assumption 45-17 the following week.
Merrimack quarterback Jack Zergiotis gained some confidence from that win with 12-26 passing for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Jacari Carter caught five passes for 79 yards in the win. Merrimack rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns as a team.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Merrimack head coach Dan Curran said via The Eagle-Tribune’s Bill Burt. “But we feel like we are improving as a program. We’ve had the skill players. We’ve had the defense. We’ve had the toughness.”
“Now our depth is improving. Our number twos are going in the game and performing,” Curran added. “We’re going to need that, especially as we get into October and November.”
Harvard, which has a 10-game winning streak in home openers, returns an Ivy League-best 12 players, who were named to the Phil Steele Preseason All-Ivy League Team. That includes Aidan Borguet, the Ivy Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
Borguet rushed for 602 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He will get more carries this season since last year’s leading rusher, Aaron Shampklin, left for the NFL.
“It’s a lot of pride — pride that these really great people have managed to have success in their lives,” Murphy said about players such as Shampklin, who have moved on to the NFL, per The Harvard Gazette. “To see those guys be able to continue to climb and reach their goals makes you really happy for them.”