October 13, 2004

Harvard's playmaking quarterback Fitzpatrick makes all the difference

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BOSTON — Jim Knowles ’87 said repeatedly after Saturday’s 34-24 loss to Harvard that the Red was just one athlete short of beating the Crimson. That athlete was Ryan Fitzpatrick, and unfortunately for Cornell, he plays for Harvard.

Throughout his collegiate career, the Crimson senior has devastated the Red time and time again, helping Harvard to four straight victories over Cornell. In 2002, his sophomore season, Fitzpatrick completed 24 of 32 pass attempts against the Red in Boston, racking up 417 total yards, including 353 in the air. It was one of only four games he started that year, and was impressive enough to earn him Ivy League Player of the Week honors.

A year ago, Fitzpatrick threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns, and added 83 yards on 14 carries at Schoellkopf before being forced out of the game by a fractured right hand in the second half. Fitzpatrick missed three games last season because of that injury, which only came as he was leading the Crimson to a 27-0 shutout of Cornell.

Saturday, his dominance just continued. While the Red focused much of its defense on preventing a big game from running back Clifton Dawson. That strategy was largely successful — Dawson was only able to muster 61 net yards. However, Fitzpatrick ran for 102 yards and a touchdown. And that was just icing on the cake for him — he also passed for 317 yards and two touchdowns.

“When you have a quarterback like that who can throw it and run it and if you get him boxed in, he gets out of it, their offense is very hard to handle,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “When he scrambles it for 20 yards, they’re going to score a lot of points.”

Fitzpatrick has been crucial to Harvard’s ability to put up so many points over the past few years.

“We made some big plays in the passing game, and I think they held back, trying to prevent the passing game,” Fitzpatrick said. “That left open a lot of running lanes for me after I got outside the pocket.”

Trying to avoid the potentially-devastating effects of a Fitzpatrick-Dawson tandem clicking on all cylinders, the Red was forced to make a choice. Ultimately, though, there was no way around the fact that Harvard boasts one of the deepest and most diverse offenses in the league.

“I think what helps me out a lot is we’ve got a lot of great athletes on the offense and we had three full receivers step up today and make some big catches,” Fitzpatrick said. “It sure makes my job a lot easier when you’ve got someone like Clifton Dawson in the back field that they’re focusing on. It takes a lot of the pressure off of me that they’re leaving things open.”

“I almost felt like we wee one or two athletes away on defense behind their receivers and quarterback. We really didn’t have people who could match up,” Knowles said.

Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor