With two highly capable quarterbacks in the Crimson mix, Harvard football coach Tim Murphy has been in a bit of a bind over the past few Saturdays. But given the big playmaking going on between senior captain Neil Rose and sophomore marvel Ryan Fitzpatrick, the coach’s conundrum has become Harvard’s blessing. And in a somewhat surprising twist, Rose and Fitzpatrick – who’ve taken turns in the starting slot in the past few outings – have put forth their best efforts in the role of reliever.
Deadlocked at 7 apiece against host Princeton this past Saturday (Oct. 26), Rose, whose minutes, until very recently, have been limited by a season-long back strain, came off the bench early in the second quarter to orchestrate a 17-7 Harvard lead at the half. In the third quarter, Rose & Co. marched 56 yards in five plays to extend the lead to 24-7. All told, the recovering Rose completed 13 of 19 passes for 170 yards, while setting the school record for career completions (375) – unseating Rich Linden ’00 (372) – en route to the 24-17 win. Not bad for a backup.
In the previous week (Oct. 19), it was Fitzpatrick who played second fiddle to the starting Rose, orchestrating a near come-from-behind upset of nationally ranked Northeastern. And, though the Huskies held off the last-minute Harvard drive to secure the win, 17-14, the sophomore from Arizona threw for 155 yards and rushed for a team-leading 81 yards. With backups like this, who needs starters?
In another notable performance, Crimson cornerback Chris Raftery ’04 recorded 12 tackles, two pass breakups, and an interception against Princeton to earn Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors.
After taming the Tigers, 24-17 – Harvard’s 10th straight Ivy victory (a school record) – the Crimson are 4-2 overall (3-0 Ivy). Harvard is tied with Pennsylvania (5-1, 3-0 Ivy) for the No. 1 spot. The Crimson visit the back-on-track Big Green in Hanover on Nov. 2. Dartmouth (3-3, 2-1 Ivy), winners of three straight, edged Columbia 24-23 on Oct. 26. The action starts at 12:30 p.m.