Junior receiver Corey Mazza began this week optimistic that he was a “fast healer” and would return to action soon from an ankle injury that knocked him out of the game last weekend against Brown.
An MRI later, Mazza learned that he had torn ligaments in his ankle and might not return for the Crimson at all this season.
Through the first two games, Mazza had 13 catches for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns—further solidifying his status as one of the top wideouts in the Ivies. He also ranks seventh on the Crimson’s all-time reception list with 85.
“There’s a 50-50 chance that Corey will be able to play again this year,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “You have to move on. It’s interesting, we’ve lost the sixth and [seventh] top receivers in Harvard Football history in the last two weeks so it’s been a very interesting year already.”
The Crimson also lost senior Rodney Byrnes due to a hamstring injury in its opener against Holy Cross.
Senior Ryan Tyler and sophomore Joe Murt will take over as the starting wideouts on Saturday and will become sophomore quarterback Liam O’Hagan’s primary targets.
Together, Tyler and Murt have 44 career receptions.
Just two weeks into the season, junior running back Clifton Dawson received the first of what will likely be a steady stream of accolades throughout the season.
The Payton Award finalist from a year ago was named Ivy League player of the week and ECAC Division I-AA player of the week for his performance in Harvard’s comeback win over Brown. He also collected the Boston Globe Gold Helmet award for the top performance in New England in Division I-AA.
Dawson racked up three touchdowns and 189 yards while leading the Crimson back from an early 16 point deficit.
The junior back has carried a heavy load for the Crimson with 34 carries last week and 37 in Harvard’s season opener at Holy Cross. He was forced to leave the game briefly in the first half of last week’s contest due to a minor hip injury.
With the injuries at wide receiver, Harvard’s offense won’t be able to give Dawson much of a break, even if Murphy would like to.
“We don’t want to give him 35 carries, nevermind 37,” Murphy said. “But we’ll be hard pressed in light of the other developments to get him any less.”
Although Dawson will still likely get plenty of carries, he’ll be forced to run without one of his favorite blockers.
Senior right tackle Brian Lapham will be out indefinitely due to an undisclosed knee injury. Lapham, who was a First Team All-Ivy selection as a junior, was expected to make a run for All-American honors this season.
Senior Nik Sobic will move from left tackle to right tackle to take Lapham’s place and senior Bennett Kowalk will take over for Sobic on the left side of the line.
“I think we’re very solid there,” said Murphy of the offensive line. “The only concern is we’ve got a lot of respect for Brian Lapham, a First Team All-Ivy player a year ago, and he’s our best tackle.”
Fourth and Four
Harvard has averaged 105.5 yards in penalties over its first two games—a trend that Tim Murphy believes will stop soon. “I believe in the final analysis it’s something we can work out of our system,” he said…Senior punter Mike King returned to action last week and punted well after taking over for junior Clem McDavid mid-game. King will remain the Crimson’s starting punter this week…Senior cornerback Gary Sonkur, who has yet play a down this season due to a hamstring injury, continues to struggle to get back on the field. Freshman Andrew Berry will continue to start in his place...Harvard maintains the longest winning streak in Division I-AA, with 13 straight victories going into the game tomorrow.
—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached at Stearns@fas.harvard.edu