12:30 PM ET, November 20, 2004
STADIUM_NAME, NOT KNOWN, USA
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 since 1913.
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 remembered."
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-17||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-4||0-2|
|TD||4:00||CLIFTON DAWSON 4 YD RUN (MATT SCHINDEL KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 50 yards.
|TD||11:56||BRIAN EDWARDS 53 YD PUNT RETURN (MATT SCHINDEL KICK)||0||14|
|TD||9:09||RICKY WILLIAMSON 100 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (MATT SCHINDEL KICK)||0||21|
|FG||4:43||ANDREW SULLIVAN 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 15 plays, 46 yards.
|TD||8:25||BRIAN EDWARDS 27 YD PASS FROM RYAN FITZPATRICK (MATT SCHINDEL KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||2:01||RYAN FITZPATRICK 1 YD RUN (MATT SCHINDEL KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 64 yards.