FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Mazza Again Poses Matchup Problems

MODEL PERFORMER
Lowell K. Chow

Wide receiver Corey Mazza (83) couldn’t quite haul in this pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Mazza and Fitzpatrick connected four times for 112 yards on Saturday, including a 61-yard touchdown in the first half.

EASTON, Pa.—Maybe—just maybe—opposing coaches should start defending Corey Mazza with a cornerback taller than 5’11.

The primary beneficiary of the increased attention drawn by senior Brian Edwards, Mazza basked in his single coverage on Saturday. The sophomore hauled in four catches for 112 yards—cracking the century mark for the second straight week—and one touchdown.

His 89.3 yards per game—though deflated by Harvard’s soggy opener against Holy Cross—lead the Crimson, as do his two receiving touchdowns.

On Mazza’s most recent trip to pay dirt—a 61-yard strike that gave Harvard a 21-7 lead—the five yards between him and the nearest defender mattered more than that cover man’s height.

But when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick heaved a third-down prayer into double coverage late in the third quarter, the four-inch advantage Mazza enjoyed over defensive back Taj Murphy turned a near-interception into a 36-yard completion.

“The one thing Mazza does so well is that he’s a big 6’3. He’s a big presence out there,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I’ve got a lot of confidence in him, throwing that deep ball to him when it’s him versus a defender. I’d say, seven, eight times out of 10 he’s going to come down with the ball no matter where you put it.”

ON BORROWED TIME

One week removed from a dismal first half showing in Providence, the Harvard offense made the most of its limited time of possession.

Holding the ball for just 9:52 through the first two quarters, the Crimson still managed three touchdowns on only four complete possessions. (Its fifth and final possession was just one play, with Fitzpatrick taking a knee to end the half.)

“We needed to be extremely efficient offensively,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “We only had the ball nine minutes in the first half so we had to score almost on every opportunity.”

Lafayette, on the other hand, held the ball for 20:08 and conducted two drives which exceeded 5:20, including a 22-play march from its own three-yard line. But, as was the case throughout the first half, that series yielded only a blocked field goal.

KICKIN’ IT OLD SCHOOL

After two weeks of near perfection, the kicking game was due for a mistake or two.

Matt Schindel pushed his first extra-point try wide right and the Crimson attempted a two-point conversion following its next score. But unlike last season, when Murphy expressed little to no faith in his kickers, Schindel returned to convert three PATs and a 31-yard field goal.

“There are some things we’re doing real well in our kicking game,” Murphy said. “But all of a sudden for whatever reason we’re having a hard time kicking the ball off with any degree of reliability.”

On his first two tries, Schindel could not loft the ball past the six-yard line. Sophomore backup Clem McDavid replaced him after Harvard’s third score, but fared even worse in his effort, breaking the 14-yard line just once and failing to reach the 20 just as often.

FOURTH AND THREE

Clifton Dawson’s three touchdowns increase his season total to nine, just four short of the record held by Chris Menick ’00. He leads the nation in points per game with 18...Dawson has now rushed for 100 yards or more in nine consecutive games...Lafayette tailback Jonathan Hurt was forced from the game after suffering a triceps contusion in the first quarter. Converted fullback Joe McCourt assumed the bulk of the carries, rushing for 101 yards...Cornerback Gary Sonkur, suffering from an injured shoulder (AC sprain), was inactive. He was replaced by Danny Tanner, who recorded seven tackles.

—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at mcginn@fas.harvard.edu.

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