October 15, 2008

Harvard Cruises Past Cornell

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Prior to Saturday’s loss in Cambridge, Mass., the football team had stayed close in all of its three games, bouncing back to win each game at the wire. Saturday at Harvard, however, the game was essentially decided before halftime, as fifth-year quarterback Chris Pizzotti and the Crimson rolled over the Red, 38-17.
“We got beat by a better team today,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “I think they beat us in all areas and all phases of the game. Offense, defense, special teams. I thought they beat us to the punch early, but things settled down in the second half and things were fairly evenly matched.”
[img_assist|nid=32654|title=Under pressure|desc=Senior quarterback Nathan Ford, who has faced little pressure behind the line this season, was sacked for the first time in 2008 on Saturday and threw two interceptions in the Red’s loss to Harvard.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red matched up fairly well against the Crimson in the second half, with each team scoring 10 points. The difference, however, came in the first half when Harvard hit Cornell with several big plays to the tune of 28 points. Regarded in some circles as an NFL, Pizzotti looked the part Saturday, exploiting many holes in the Red’s defense. He would finish the contest with 281 yards on 16-for-23 passing and three touchdowns.
“We gave up way too many plays on defense,” Knowles said. “They were able to pretty much do what they wanted with their offense. Today they were better, they were more physical with their offense.”
Harvard freshman wide receiver Adam Chrissis who had never caught a pass before Saturday’s contest, made his impact felt early. On Harvard’s first third down play, he caught a screen pass and sprinted 67 yards past the defense for an early touchdown.
“When I first got the ball,” Chrissis said. “I just saw a bunch of green in front of me and [wide receiver] Chris [Lorditch] was leading the way. … I thought our line did a great job of selling the run the other way and we caught them over pursuing like we thought they would do. The pieces of the puzzle just fit together and we got a touchdown there.”
One matchup that was exposed by the Crimson was Matt Luft against sophomore cornerback Emani Fenton. Luft would finish the contest with four catches for 139 yards.
Cornell’s defense gave up big plays — seven plays for 20 yards or more — but the defense wasn’t the only problem with the Red early on. The offense couldn’t manage to get a first down until the second quarter. Unlike its other games this season, the offensive line couldn’t protect Ford, giving up its first two sacks of the season and succumbing to the Crimson’s blitz.
“I think on the couple of sacks, they just ran a good blitz and we just didn’t have it protected,” Ford said. “I still thought the offensive line did a good job today protecting. We were not as physical as we usually are up front and we needed to be both in the run game and the pass game.”
Two three-and-out possessions later, the Red placed the Crimson on the Cornell 37 to start a drive. The drive eventually culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by Crimson tailback Cheng Ho. The Red was down 14 points before the end of the first quarter for the first time this season. The deficit would be too much for Cornell to handle it the Crimson went into halftime leading, 28-7.
The score at the break was a result of one of two interceptions thrown by Ford. With under two minutes left, Ford scrambled on a play which would end up getting deflected into Harvard linebacker Glenn Dorris’ hands on the Cornell 37. A personal foul would push the Crimson to the Red’s 22-yard line. The Crimson quickly took advantage of positioning, scoring on a reverse handoff to Chrissis.
Overall, the slips in the Red’s defense and the slow start would doom the Red.
“They just executed,” said senior safety Tim Bax. “The quarterback had some time and he sees the field well and he just made the throws that he needed to make. … It was just mental lapses by us.”