After weeks of sitting back and watching Division I teams from around the nation kick off the 2004 season without them, the football squads of the Ivy League finally joined the action last weekend. Every team in the Ancient Eight came into week one with new hopes, high expectations, and the innocence of an undefeated team, yet few came away unscathed. Alas, such is the perilous nature of Ivy League football, and the main focus of this week”s Around the Ivies.
Harvard 35, Holy Cross 0
Fans in Cambridge may have missed the Crimson”s sparkling victory over the weekend in the midst of all the Red Sox hoopla, but Harvard”s season opener provided more highlight reel-worthy plays than any Johnny Damon catch. Sophomore Clifton Dawson ran for three touchdowns in the first half alone and the Crimson defense suffocated the Crusaders throughout Saturday”s soggy contest at Harvard Stadium. Although quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for only 78 total yards, the Crimson notched 325 net offensive yards in a game that was essentially over prior to halftime. Harvard opens up league play against Brown this weekend in Providence, R.I.
Yale 24, Dayton 17
The Bulldogs” first trip to the state of Ohio resulted in a rollercoaster game that was not firmly decided until the clock ticked to zero in the fourth quarter. Yale balanced a strong running attack led by senior Robert Carr (172 yards, one touchdown) with an animated aerial assault — benefits of which were reaped by wide-out Chandler Henley (seven receptions, two touchdowns). Dayton, a national powerhouse at the I-AA level, amassed 300 total offensive yards but was decimated by turnovers and a lack of execution. The Flyers gave up four fumbles and converted only five of 13 third downs.
Colgate 17, Dartmouth 15
A long, cold winter in New Hampshire got started early as the Green football team lost a heartbreaker to Colgate last Saturday. Things looked sunny for Dartmouth early in the fourth quarter as the squad held a 9-3 advantage, but quarterback Charles Rittgers gave the game back to the Raiders by tossing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Colgate bruiser Jamaal Branch broke the game open with a 45-yard run to put the Raiders up for good and shatter the Green”s hopes for an undefeated season.
Princeton 35, Lafayette 18
The Tigers gnashed their powerful teeth in their season opener, exacting revenge on a Lafayette squad that had run over Princeton in last year”s season opener. Senior quarterback Matt Verbit proved veterans really do have more fun, accumulating 227 yards on 18-for-26 passing. He was complemented by Dante Hall-esque return man Greg Fields, who finished the game with 230 all-purpose yards — including 165 return yards. The game was not quite as close as the score indicates — the Tigers held a 35-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Penn 61, San Diego 18
All bets were off in Southern California on Saturday, as perennial Ivy contender Penn bucked the stereotype and demolished the Toreros to pick up its 17th consecutive victory. The defending league champs were led by running back Sam Mathews, who picked up 102 yards on the ground plus three touchdowns. In an offensive fireworks display — the teams combined for 937 total offensive yards — the Quakers made the most noise, finishing with eight touchdowns. The Ivies will continue their tour of the West Coast this weekend as Princeton travels to play San Diego on Saturday.
Brown 35, Albany 7
In another near-rainout, sophomore quarterback Joe DiGiacomo threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut at Brown Stadium. The Bears” defense also displayed its mettle, allowing only 142 total yards and one Albany touchdown. Nick Hartigan bore most of Brown”s rushing duties, picking up 93 yards on 26 carries in addition to finding the end zone on two occasions. The Bears will face Harvard in this Saturday”s home-opener.
Fordham 17, Columbia 14
In a thriller at Wien Stadium, the Lions fell about three yards short of prolonging one of the most hotly contested games of week one. Columbia senior Nick Rudd”s 41-yard field goal attempt with 30 seconds left in the game fell just short of its mark, handing the Lions their first loss of the year. The Rams had jumped out to a 17-0 lead at halftime, but the Lions capitalized on two Fordham errors — Columbia pulled within three points after scoring on a blocked punt return and 42-yard fumble recovery.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor