After re-injuring his ankle last week in practice—an injury originally sustained in week two against Brown—the junior learned that he would almost certainly miss the remainder of the season.
This week, both Mazza and Crimson coach Tim Murphy indicated that, unless the wideout makes a miraculous recovery, he will look to gain an extra year of eligibility.
The Ivy league does not allow players to redshirt a year, but it does provide a “fifth-year medical hardship eligibility year” if a player does not compete in more than two games in a season due to injury.
Mazza played in Harvard’s opener against Holy Cross and was injured in the fourth quarter against the Bears in his second game, and has not seen the field since.
“If he goes through the proper channels and gets the proper paperwork and documentation, he will be eligible for the 2006 and 2007 season, so you have to look on the bright side,” Murphy said. “Since this is so straightforward, [the process] is more or less a formality.”
The extra year of eligibility means that Mazza will retain his third-year eligibility status next season, making his senior season correspond with that of sophomore quarterback Liam O’Hagan.
Over the next two years, the two could form a dangerous Crimson passing tandem.
It’s been a very long time since the Harvard Football team found itself in such a dire situation this early in the Ivy season.
The last time the Crimson (3-3, 1-2 Ivy) dropped two out of its first three league games was back in 1996, when Harvard lost its opener to Columbia and also lost to Cornell before knocking off Princeton.
That Crimson team finished the season with a disappointing 4-6 record and only managed two Ivy wins. While this year’s squad is certainly hoping to finish much stronger, it remains realistic about its chances. And that reality means coming to grips with the fact that Harvard’s preseason goal of winning its second straight league title has all but slipped away.
“It changes our goals but not our focus,” said Harvard coach Tim Murphy about having two conference losses. “Our focus has always been just one game at a time...In all honesty it changes some of our goals, but our focus is still to find a way to win this week.”
The Crimson is technically not eliminated from the Ivy chase, but history isn’t on its side. The last league crown to go to a two-loss team was 23 years ago in 1982. That year, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Penn shared the title.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Murphy admitted this week that junior running back Clifton Dawson had been battling an assortment of ailments that kept him out of practice throughout much of the season.
Dawson had his best game of the season last week against the Tigers after his first full week of practice. The junior ran for two touchdowns and 203 yards—his first two hundred yard performance of the season.
“Other than Thursday walk throughs, he hadn’t practiced [before last week],” Murphy said. “Just seeing him practice hard, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, anyone out there could tell he was ready to bust out for a big game.”
Murphy and Dawson had both downplayed the role of injuries earlier in the season, fearing that opposing defenses might take advantage of knowing that Dawson was hurt.
Dawson currently places second in the Ivies with 743 yards rushing on the season.
FOURTH AND THREE
Harvard looks to tomorrow’s game ranked last in the league in turnover margin, with a minus-five differential...Despite throwing the ball only 16 times last week, O’Hagan remains second in the Ivies in total offense with 230 yards per game...The Crimson beat the Big Green by one point last year in Hanover, 13-12.
—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.