CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
found out Saturday morning that he was invited to play in the Hula
Bowl with other top pro prospects. Then he went out and showed why.
Fitzpatrick ran for one touchdown and threw for another to help
Harvard complete a perfect season with a 35-3 victory over Yale in
the 121st edition of The Game. Clifton Dawson ran for 120 yards to
break Harvard's single-season rushing record, and Ricky Williamson
scored on a 100-yard interception to help the Crimson finish
unbeaten and untied for the second time in four years.
"This is the perfect ending to a perfect season," coach Tim
Murphy said, pausing to add, "the most perfect season."
Murphy is the first Harvard coach since World War I who has
enough perfect seasons to compare, having led the team to a 9-0
record in 2001 when one game was canceled because of the Sept. 11
attacks. Before that, the Crimson hadn't finished the year perfect
Harvard (10-0, 7-0 Ivy) had already clinched at least a share of
the Ivy title, and the 2004 banner had been added to the ring above
Harvard Stadium. But no season is complete without a victory
against Yale (5-5, 3-4), and Harvard finished them off for the
fourth consecutive year; the last Harvard seniors to go 4-0 against
their rivals was the class of '23.
"It's very satisfying to leave our legacy," Fitzpatrick said.
"It was great to have the rings and go 9-0 our freshman year. But
it was what we did in our senior year that's how we're going to be
Despite the outcome -- the most lopsided in The Game since a 45-7
Harvard victory in 1982 -- it was played with the intensity
befitting a 129-year-old rivalry, with a handful of personal fouls
on the field and among the sellout crowd of 30,323.
Only a 28-yard field goal with 4:43 left in the first half
helped Yale avert a shutout.
The only other consolation for Yale was the fact that some of
its partisans managed to steal the Harvard flag at halftime. An
incensed Harvard cheerleader went into the crowd of Yalies in an
attempt to retrieve it; fists flew as he pursued the flag up the
concrete seating bowl before security turned him back.
Dawson, a transfer from Northwestern, opened the scoring with a
4-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 26 carries. That
brought his total for the season to 1,302 yards before he left to a
nice ovation with nine minutes to play.
Fitzpatrick left a minute later and received the congratulations
of his teammates and the fans. He finished 15-for-24 for 124 yards
passing and 67 rushing and the school career record for total
offense (6,721 yards).
Harvard has not sent a quarterback to the NFL since the Great
Depression, and only 14 players in all have made the leap from the
Division I-AA school to the pros since the leather-helmet era. But
Fitzpatrick has been watched by scouts all season; representatives
from the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots were there on
Saturday to see if he is ready for the NFL.
"I'd love to do it if I get the opportunity," Fitzpatrick
said. "I'm going to play football until they tell me to stop."
Yale punter Tyson Crawford struggled on his first two kicks and
outkicked his coverage on his third, early in the second quarter.
Brian Edwards dropped it, but he picked it up and went to his right
before finding a hole and streaking down the sideline for a 53-yard
score that made it 14-0.
A wide receiver with four touchdown catches this season, Edwards
has four returning TDs and has also thrown for a score.
Williamson is credited with a 100-yard return even though he was
in his own end zone when he caught Alvin Cowan's pass and took it
the length of the field to give Harvard a 21-0 lead. It was the
third 100-yard interception return in school history and the first
since 1969; in 1910, when the field was 110 yards long, Edward
Graustein ran one back 104 yards against Cornell.
"The punt return and the interception put us in a big-time
hole," Yale coach Jack Siedlecki said. "Those plays made us play
catch-up the whole game."
Yale had a chance to make it close, driving to the Harvard 36 in
the third quarter before Cowan's sneak attempt on fourth-and-inches
was stopped. Harvard went long on the next play and drew a pass
interference penalty that sparked a 10-play, 64-yard drive.
Fitzpatrick ran twice on third downs to keep the drive going
before carrying it in from the 1 to make it 35-3.
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