The Crimson (1-0) attack dominated a seriously overmatched Holy Cross (1-2, 1-1 Patriot) defensive unit, accumulating 636 yards of total offense—just four short of a team record—en route to an impressive 43-23 victory on homecoming day at Fitton Field.
With the team firmly in his command for the first time in his collegiate career, Fitzpatrick turned in the single finest offensive performance in Harvard history, racking up a record 471 yards of total offense and three touchdowns—two passing, one rushing—and earning the Johnny Turco Memorial Trophy as the game’s top player.
“I haven’t really heard any of these number things,” Fitzpatrick said. “But that wasn’t our best game on offense and that’s what so exciting about this. We obviously played very well on offense, but there are a lot of things we need to shape up and I think were going to be a very, unbelievably good offense this year.”
He distributed the ball brilliantly, finding six different receivers for 359 yards through the air. Fitzpatrick rarely forced his throws, confounding the Crusaders’ secondary and patiently exploiting the vulnerabilities of each defensive strategy, whether that meant passing down field or in the flat.
“It’s awesome,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are very deep at the skill positions, wide receivers and running backs, and you kind of had the coming-out party of [sophomore transfer] Clifton Dawson today. There’s another weapon. It just makes my job easier.”
With Holy Cross using man-to-man coverage early on, Fitzpatrick and junior wide receiver Brian Edwards connected with such ease that they seemed like oversized children playing monkey in the middle with no one even remotely capable of stopping them.
“What I said privately to people—certainly not publicly—was that the name they were going to hear at the end of this game was Brian Edwards,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said.
The duo hooked up for four receptions, 143 yards and one touchdown—in the first quarter.
“Coach told us to pray for man-on-man coverage because their corners were young and we could take advantage of them deep,” Edwards said.
Sure enough, their prayers were answered.
Abusing the inexperienced secondary, Edwards repeatedly blew by his coverage, with Fitzpatrick lofting perfect passes into his waiting arms.
And the receptions were only the opening act in Saturday’s Brian Edwards Show.
Edwards twice turned modest gains into drive-making receptions with speed and sheer determination combining for dozens of yards after the catch, his fluid lateral movement leaving opposing safeties tackling nothing but air.
“Nobody really knew who he was,” Fitzpatick said of Edwards. “He didn’t get a lot of playing time last year or a lot of catches, but obviously today he showed he’s going to be a tremendous player for our team and for the Ivy League.”
After getting badly burned in the first quarter, the Crusaders changed to a zone defense to prevent further deep balls.