Following the Harvard football team’s 52-14 thumping of Brown this past Saturday (Sept. 26), you couldn’t help but feel bad for the Crimson cheerleaders. What with junior quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his cohorts generally going ballistic, marching and catching for 546 total yards, it seemed as if Harvard’s spirit squad spent their entire afternoon doing push-ups. A cumulative total of 240 to be exact, one for each point every time Harvard scored.
Sympathy aside (and not just for the cheerleaders, either), Harvard’s seven touchdowns suggests that this “rebuilding” season will turn out to include demolition as well. Led by Fitzpatrick’s 881 total yards over the first two games of the season, including the 43-23 win at Holy Cross on Sept. 20, the Crimson have so far outscored opponents 95-37 – good enough to garner the club’s offense a first rank nationally.
Against the Bears (1-1, 0-1 Ivy), however, it was the defense that set and controlled the game’s tempo. After Fitzpatrick was picked off on the very first throw of the very first play of the day, the Crimson defense quickly squelched the Brown threat. Following two key stops on Harvard’s own 22-yard line, senior end Brian Garcia sacked Brown’s Kyle Slager for a nine-yard loss, forcing an unsuccessful field goal attempt.
Back on the ball, Harvard’s offense continued to struggle, as Fitzpatrick, eager to avoid his fourth career interception, overthrew his receivers. Forced to punt, the Crimson D again took to the field prematurely, and once more found its rhythm. This time managing a touchdown, as senior free safety Chris Raftery returned an interception 23 yards to put Harvard on top, 7-0.
And though Brown notched things up at 7-7 to close out the 1st quarter, Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Harvard attack soon found its own rhythm, effectively blowing the game open. Less than three minutes into the second stanza, the junior play-caller connected with Brian Edwards ’05 on a picture perfect cross-field pass to give Harvard a 14-7 lead. Fitzpatrick than notched his first of two solo touchdowns with a 1-yard sneak to cap a 59-yard scoring drive. For insurance purposes, he then found freshman Corey Mazza in the end zone on a 10-yard pass with just three ticks remaining in the first half to bolster the lead, 28-7.
The second half? More of the same – including a 9-yard touchdown run by Fitzpatrick (49 rushing yards on the day), scoring passes to Ryan Tyler ’06 and James Harvey ’05, and a 31-yard field goal by Adam Kingston ’04. To be perfectly honest, however, by the second half I was rooting for Harvard’s cheerleaders.
The Crimson will host the hot Northeastern Huskies (4-1), ranked No. 10 by both the Sports Network and in the ESPN/USA Today poll, on Saturday (Oct. 4). Last season, Northeastern squeaked by the Crimson, 17-14, though Harvard owns the series, 5-1. The battle ensues at 1 p.m.