Patrick Reusse
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BOSTON – Harvard is calling this its 150th year playing football, dating to 1874 and a pair of rugby-style games vs. Montreal's McGill University.

And speaking of anniversaries, this is also the 40th for the classic comedy, "Risky Business."

There is a scene where rich kid Joel Goodson, played by Tom Cruise, is meeting with a college recruiter as a raucous party is taking place in surrounding rooms of the Goodson home.

And the recruiter says to Joel about his academic résumé: "You've done a lot of solid work here, but it's just not Ivy League, now is it?"

Transfer that scene to Harvard Stadium, the ancient home of the Crimson, on Saturday afternoon, and a similar message could've been offered to St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso when the coaches met for the postgame handshake.

Tim Murphy, in Year 30 as Harvard's coach, might have phrased it this way after the Crimson's 45-13 win:

"You've done a lot of solid work here, Glenn, in the MIAC and now the Pioneer League, but it's just not Ivy League, now is it?"

The Pioneer Football League was formed in the early 1990s as a home for Division I basketball schools that were ordered to move all programs to that level by the NCAA.

The schools that didn't want to fully finance their football programs started the PFL as a non-scholarship conference that has been coast-to-coast and ever-changing with teams.

The eight-team Ivy League was formed in 1954, with the most prestigious of Eastern academic institutions that had been playing football against one another for decades.

The football is also non-scholarship, but the academic aid and the prestige of being recruited by an Ivy can make up for the fact the schedule starts in mid-September, consists of 10 games and has no postseason.

St. Thomas entered the Pioneer in 2021 with a five-year restriction before being eligible for the FCS playoffs. It took only until the second season for Caruso and the Tommies to go 8-0 to win the Pioneer.

But that's not Ivy League, now is it?

The Tommies started Saturday with a drive, down to Harvard's 21, and then tried a double-lateral pass on fourth-and-8. Tight end Patrick Wagner was open for a touchdown, but quarterback Amari Powell hesitated, threw late and the pass was knocked down.

And then for the rest of the first quarter St. Thomas looked as mismatched as St. Scholastica against … almost anybody.

Harvard's first play: Shane McLaughlin's 79-yard touchdown, running to his right. Then, three plays from mid-field, with Jaden Craig scoring the touchdown. Then, three plays and a 25-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Abbey.

Harvard, 21-0 at the quarter.

Later, there was a 96-yard interception return by Ty Bartrum, a safety speeding past Tommies that looked to have angles on him. And to start the second half, Harvard's quarterback, Charles Deprima went right for 69 yards to make it 38-0.

Caruso changed at quarterback to freshman Tak Tateoka, who had played in last weekend's shutout at South Dakota (24-0) when Powell was injured.

There were a couple of second-half touchdown drives — 53 and 78 yards — and the Tommies also increased their level of feistiness. Yet, there was no denying the first-half faux pas.

"They had more speed than we're used to playing against," Caruso said. "They were strong up front, too. I wouldn't say we adjusted. We did make it harder for them in the second half.

"You're never in a hurry to have a freshman at quarterback, but from the sideline, it seemed like Tak hung in there and made some plays."

This led to loud cheers from the several hundred St. Thomas fans congregated in their purple on one side of the stadium. There weren't many more in Harvard red on the other side.

The crowd in the 36,000-bench seat stadium was announced at 6,217, which was extremely generous.

The tiny crowd and an outcome determined early didn't nullify this opportunity to be on the road in a city like Boston, at a place as famous as Harvard.

"As a football guy, as someone who loves football, to play here was tremendous,'' said Luke Herzog, a junior linebacker. "We saw a bit of the city of Boston, too — even Fenway Park. It was a great experience.''

Part of the experience for Herzog was a battle with Harvard's Tyler Neville, a 6-4, 235-pound tight end of considerable repute.

"He started off cordial, and then got pretty loud," Herzog said. "It got a little heated … not too bad.

"He's a good player. Harvard had quite a few of them."