It was one small step for Neil Rose, but it was one giant leap for Crimson football.
With the score knotted at 21-21 in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against Princeton, Harvard's junior quarterback was faced with fourth-and-6 from the Tigers' 35-yard line. As soon as the ball was snapped, two Princeton linebackers penetrated the backfield and barreled towards Rose.
Most quarterbacks would have been caught flat-footed and obliterated by the unblocked defensemen. Others would have tried in vain to scramble from the inevitable collision.
Rose, however, fearlessly took a step towards the impending doom and delivered a touchdown pass to senior tight end Chris Stakich for the go-ahead score and a turning point in Harvard's season.
On the strength of Rose's clutch pocket passing, the Crimson was able to knock off the Tigers and move into a tie for first place in the Ivy League.
Playing in front of his father and other relatives for the first time in at least three years, the Hawaii native threw for 292 yards on 25-for-36 passing and finished the day with two touchdowns. More important than Rose's prolific production though, was his steady leadership and poise throughout the contest.
"Neil really takes charge on the field," said sophomore wide receiver Carl Morris. "It's good for the whole team to see confidence in the quarterback."
However, Rose's confidence and calm demeanor are only half of the recipe of his success in his first season as the Crimson's starting quarterback.