MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Carl Morris

Morris Makes Dream Season a Reality

David E. Stein

CARL MORRIS almost singlehandedly engineered Harvard’s 21-point comeback against Dartmouth.

He broke countless Harvard records. He broke the ankles of defensive backs. He broke down defensive game plans and broke open games.

But the most important thing that junior wide receiver Carl Morris—The Crimson’s Male Athlete of the Year—broke this season? Opponents’ hearts. Just ask Dartmouth.

It was the last weekend of October and Harvard’s perfect season was on life-support as the Crimson trailed the Big Green 21-0 midway through the third quarter. All-Ivy senior quarterback Neil Rose and senior tailback Josh Staph, the team’s leading rusher, were injured and could only look on helplessly as the dream season spiraled into a nightmare. Junior tailback Nick Palazzo was playing with a nagging hamstring injury.

The Crimson had only one proven, healthy offensive weapon on the field. Luckily, it was Morris.

Facing second-and-four on the 35-yard line, freshman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick pitched the ball to Morris, who reversed to the right and heaved the ball across the field to senior wide receiver Sam Taylor for the Crimson’s first score of the game.

Seventeen seconds later, after a Dartmouth fumble on the kickoff gave the Crimson first-and-10 on its own 32, Morris scored on a fade pass from Fitzpatrick to cut the margin to 21-14. One possession later, Morris set up Harvard’s final touchdown—a five yard run by Palazzo—with a 40-yard reception on a spectacular leaping grab.

When Anders Blewett’s 30-yard field goal attempt split the uprights at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Harvard had completed the biggest comeback of its 128-year history thanks to Morris, who finished with 11 catches for 153 yards.

“I’m glad he’s on our team,” senior offensive lineman Justin Stark said earlier this year. “I’d hate to have to go up against him. No one has been more important to our team’s success than Carl.”

Morris’ performance against Dartmouth preserved the perfect season, but his play against Penn two weeks later clinched Harvard’s first Ivy title since 1997.

Morris caught nine passes for 155 yards and two scores, both of which came during a run of 28 unanswered Crimson points. His second touchdown, on a 62-yard slant-and-go, gave Harvard the lead for good.

When the stakes were highest, Morris was always at his best.

“We had unbelievable playmaking under pressure all year long,” said Harvard Coach Tim Murphy after the game, “and that’s what separates good teams from championship teams.”

It is also what separates good players from champions.

The next week, Morris scored Harvard’s first and last touchdowns in the Crimson’s 35-23 victory over Yale in the 118th playing of The Game.

Clinging to a 28-23 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Crimson pieced together a nine-play, 75-yard drive highlighted by a 12-yard run on a reverse by Morris. A 16-yard touchdown pass from Rose to Morris secured sole possession of the Ivy title and the Crimson’s first perfect season since 1913.

Morris now owns one of the gaudy, gold championship rings—complete with deep crimson stones, veritas shields and the words “perfect season” engraved across the face—that arrived just weeks ago to cap a magical season. But the ring was just the last in a long line of honors Morris received since the conclusion of the season.

The Epsicopal High graduate was voted Harvard’s MVP by his teammates after setting new statistical standards in virtually every receiving category. With one year of eligibility remaining, Morris holds the season and career records for receptions (71 and 155, respectively), yards (943 and 2,200) and touchdowns (12 and 20), as well as the single-game records for receptions (13) and yards (220).

With a three-touchdown performance in any game next season, Morris will own every possible Harvard receiving record. That one remaining mark is definitely within reach—Morris has caught two touchdowns seven times in his career.

But according to his coach, Morris is about much more than statistics.

“Carl is more than the terrific player that people see making that incredible number of catches,” Murphy said at the team’s post-season banquet. “He does so many little things for us, both on and off the field, that have made him so valuable to our program.”

His statistics, though, were honored time and time again. Morris was awarded the Bushnell Trophy as Ivy League Player of the Year, the first Crimson honoree since 1973. The New England Sports Writers Association then honored Morris as the New England Division I Player of the Year. Morris won the award over players like then-Heisman hopeful William Green of Boston College.

“Carl Morris is the best receiver in the Ivy League,” Rose said of his top target earlier this year. “Simply no one can stop him. He’s smart, he’s strong and he’s fast. I am lucky to have him.”

Rose, who returns as a fifth-year senior after obtaining a medical redshirt, gets to have him for one final season, and so does Harvard. Morris

the gamebreaker—and the heart breaker—is not through just yet.

Harvard Football and Carl Morris

Game-By-Game

Date Opponent Result Rec. Yards TD Long

Sept. 22 Brown W 27-20 8 101 1 29

Sept. 29 Lafayette W 38-14 9 123 2 40

Oct. 6 Northeastern W 35-20 4 41 1 22

Oct. 13 Cornell W 26-6 7 157 0 39

Oct. 20 Princeton W 28-26 9 73 1 24

Oct. 27 Dartmouth W 31-21 11 153 1 40

Nov. 3 Columbia W 45-33 9 86 2 36

Nov. 10 Penn W 28-21 9 155 2 62

Nov. 17 Yale W 35-23 5 54 2 16

Totals — — 71 943 12 62