With starter Neil Rose sidelined and his team facing a 18-7 deficit going into the second quarter, sophomore quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did what he does best.
He answered the call and rose to the occasion.
Fitzpatrick—whose entire Harvard football career has been a string of fill-in heroics—engineered three straight scores, leading the Crimson to a come-from-behind victory over Brown in Providence on Saturday afternoon.
Fitzpatrick received the Gold Helmet Award as New England’s Division I Player of the Week for his gritty display and is The Crimson’s Athlete of the Week.
“Fitzy,” as he is affectionately called by his teammates, filled in admirably in the Neil Rose Air Show. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
But Fitzpatrick made his real mark on the ground. He led all players with 131 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Sixty-one of those yards came on Fitzpatrick’s first trip down the field—a drive capped by a one-yard Nick Palazzo touchdown run.
Although the score still left the Crimson trailing by four, it served as reassurance that an offense with Fitzpatrick at the helm could put points on the board and match a talented Brown offense score-for-score.
A gutsy, drive-saving 30-yard scramble in the third quarter and a pair of touchdown strikes to senior wideouts Carl Morris and Kyle Cremarosa highlighted Fitzpatrick’s outstanding performance the rest of the way.
From the start of his Crimson career, Fitzpatrick has displayed an Elway-like resilience, engineering come-from-behind wins in three games during the Crimson’s current 11-game win streak.
Fitzpatrick saw his first extended action in a 2001 comeback win over Princeton. Entering the game in the second quarter he completed 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards. In the Crimson’s come from behind win over Dartmouth a week later, Fitzpatrick led the team to 31 second half points to seal the victory .
Fitzpatrick is slated to start the Lehigh game as Rose mends. As Harvard looks to extend its 11-game win streak, the team can be confident knowing that the man in the pocket has saved that streak several times before. If last week’s performance is any indication, Crimson faithful will have nothing to complain about at the quarterback position in 2002, with or without a healthy Rose.