Unlike his journey back to Harvard, Andrew Hatch’s performance Saturday night could not have gone more smoothly.
The senior quarterback completed 20 of his 25 passes and had three touchdowns, leading the Harvard football team (1-0) to a sound 34-6 victory over Holy Cross (1-2) in the season opener at Harvard Stadium.
In front of 21,704 fans, Hatch passed for 276 yards, the most for a Crimson quarterback since 2008.
“I was a little surprised,” said junior wide receiver Levi Richards. “He played unbelievable. I thought he was going to play well, but I didn’t know he was going to come out guns-a-blazin’.”
Saturday night’s game was Hatch’s first in a Crimson uniform at the varsity level, last playing for Harvard as a freshman on the junior varsity team in 2005.
His Crimson playing career was then sidetracked by his one-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, two-year playing stint at Louisiana State University, and, after transferring back to Harvard, one-year restriction from play due to NCAA regulations regarding transfer students.
Thus, the season’s first contest had a special significance to Hatch.
“I’m just really trying to enjoy every minute of it and just really appreciating the chance to be out there,” Hatch said. “It just felt great.”
Hatch and the Crimson started the game on a high note, gaining three points on the first possession.
“It’s the first game, so there’s always a few butterflies for everyone going into it,” Hatch said. “It’s just nice to get some points on the first drive. That was a good way to start off.”
The Crimson did not relent, and with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, Harvard scored its first touchdown on a four-yard run by senior running back Gino Gordon.
In the first possession of the second quarter, Hatch and the Crimson marched 82 yards downfield in just eight plays. The drive culminated in Hatch’s first passing touchdown of the season.
On the final play of the drive, Hatch quickly deciphered the Crusaders’ defense, noticing that Holy Cross planned to dissolve into a cover-three defense. This meant that senior wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi would only be covered by a linebacker.
“A receiver on a linebacker in most books is a mismatch,” Iannuzzi said. “So I think [Hatch] just identified the mismatch...and then he just threw a great deep ball there, and we caught it just inside the back of the endzone.”
Hatch’s strong play continued in the second half, as he threw two touchdown passes, both to senior wide receiver Chris Lorditch.