Football Takes Home Postseason Awards

Published by Sam Danello on December 08, 2014 at 11:17AM

To the victors belong the spoils.

In the aftermath of a last-minute win over Yale in the 131st playing of the Game, several Crimson players earned more than the emotional satisfaction of a thrilling finish—they also racked up personal honors.

As usual, senior defensive end Zach Hodges led the pack. For the second season in a row, he was named a finalist for Ivy League Football Player of the Year. Hodges, who has the most sacks in Harvard history, won the prize in 2013. If he duplicates the feat, he will be the first Ancient Eight player to receive the title two times in a row since Crimson wide receiver Carl Morris in 2001 and 2002.

The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston went a step further in naming Hodges the recipient of the George “Bulger” Lowe Award. Nicknamed “New England’s Heisman Trophy,” the prize goes to the top defensive player in the region.

Hodges’s continued to rack up prizes on a national scale. Earlier this week, he accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game, which will take place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The next day, the team announced that Hodges had also earned a spot on the College Sports Madness All-America team. 

On the season, the defensive back topped the Ivy League with 8.5 sacks and placed third with 10 tackles for a loss. His largest play of the year came in the dying seconds of the matchup against the Bulldogs, when Hodges dragged down Yale quarterback Morgan Roberts. Harvard intercepted the ball on the next play.

Predictably, Hodges was a unanimous All-Ivy first team selection. Seventeen teammates joined him on one of the all-conference squads. Junior defensive back Sean Ahern, senior offensive lineman Nick Easton, senior tight end Tyler Hamblin, senior defensive back Norman Hayes, senior defensive tackle Obum Obukwelu, senior linebacker Connor Sheehan, junior running back Paul Stanton, Jr., and junior offensive lineman Cole Toner all got the first-team nod.

Although junior wide receiver Andrew Fischer made the second team, he earned Ancient Eight co-Offensive Player of the Week after racking up 264 total yards and two touchdowns against Yale. In addition, he garnered a New England Football Writers’ Association Gold Helmet. Sheehan won Defensive Player of the Week thanks to a performance that included a 90-yard pick-six at the end of the third quarter.    

Players were not the only Harvard affiliates to receive personal prizes. After his third undefeated season with the Crimson, Harvard head coach Tim Murphy was tapped as the inaugural Ivy League Coach of the Year.





Saunders Added to Naismith Watch List

Published by David Freed on December 04, 2014 at 8:23PM

Five games into the season, nobody is playing better basketball in the Ivy League than senior wing Wesley Saunders—and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Wednesday, Saunders was named to the Naismith Trophy Men’s Top 50 watch list. The senior ranks seventh in the NCAA in scoring at 21.8 points a game, putting up 27—including the game-clinching three-point play—in the team’s most recent 77-75 win over UMass. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year leads the team with 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game, ranking first in assist-to-turnover ratio as well.


Men's Basketball Preview: Northeastern

Published by David Freed on December 04, 2014 at 5:53PM

After a closer-than-expected win over MIT to start the season and an unexpected loss against Holy Cross, it is safe to say that the Harvard men’s basketball team (4-1) has righted the ship. The team is 3-0 on its current five-game homestand, closing with Northeastern (7:00 p.m., NESN) and Boston University as the semester winds down. Below, The Back Page takes a look at the three main things to keep your eye on as Harvard aims to extend its win streak against the Huskies.

Vulnerability Inside: The biggest story from Harvard’s victory over UMass was the performances of reserve big men junior Evan Cummins and sophomore Zena Edosomwan, who played solid defense on Minutemen star Cady Lalame and got key buckets on the other end. With senior Jonah Travis again questionable to play, the Crimson will need both players to step up against burly Northeastern forward Scott Eatherton. The senior, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds the last time these teams met, was named CAA Player of the Week Monday after leading the squad to the Hall of Fame Tip-Off title and a win over Florida State. The Huskies are playing historically good basketball, having won five games in November for the first time ever, and Eatherton’s play is the biggest reason why.


Fitzpatrick '05 Sets New Franchise Record

Published by Sam Danello on December 02, 2014 at 11:19AM

Six touchdowns. No interceptions. 358 yards passing.

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out that Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 had a pretty good game last Sunday. But in case Fitzpatrick—a former captain and standout for the Crimson—needs the confirmation of a numbers whiz, he can always turn to his younger son Brady.

At the end of the press conference following the Texans’ 45-21 win over the Tennessee Titans, Fitzpatrick introduced Brady, described by the New York Post as an “adorable human calculator.” Fitzpatrick the elder asked the crowd for two numbers between 90 and 99. When a reporter suggested 93 and 97, it took Brady only a few seconds of wide-eyed staring before he multiplied the numbers together to get 9,021.

The answer of over 9,000 might as well have described Fitzpatrick’s quarterback rating on the day. By tossing six touchdowns, Fitzpatrick not only set a franchise record, but he also recorded more passing scores than he had combined for over his previous nine games of action.

In the first week of November, a loss against the Eagles had led Houston to bench Fitzpatrick in favor of Ryan Mallett. But two games later, a chest injury ended Mallett’s season and landed Fitzpatrick back in the starter’s seat.

Against the Titans, Fitzpatrick showed no rust. He connected on 24 of 33 pass attempts, and his 10.85 yards per pass exceeded his season total by more than 2.5 yards. DeAndre Hopkins was the most frequent beneficiary of Fitzpatrick’s breakout, as the second-year wide receiver finished with 238 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches.

Fitzpatrick’s accomplishment loses a little luster given the fact that Tennessee boasts the league’s worst scoring defense. Last week, the Titans conceded 27 first-half points en route to a 43-24 drubbing by the Eagles. However, hope is on the horizon for Tennessee in the form of Eli Manning, who accounted for 70 passing yards and two lost fumbles in the second half of a loss to the Jaguars.

For many NFL players, a franchise-record performance might stand as a career highlight. But the picture is more complicated for Fitzpatrick, who participated in two undefeated seasons at Harvard. As a senior, Fitzpatrick won Ivy League Player of the Year after posting a 128.9 passer rating on the year. The season included a 21-point comeback against Brown to preserve perfection and, predictably, a 35-3 beat-down of Yale. 

Men's Basketball Looks to Stay Undefeated At Home Against UMass

Published by David Freed on November 29, 2014 at 9:20AM

Junior co-captain Siyani Chambers will be key to the Crimson's matchup with UMass Saturday.

Four games in, the Harvard men’s basketball team (3-1) has performed roughly as its ranking would have suggested. Apart from a one-point loss to Holy Cross, Harvard has blown away each of its other opponents with suffocating defense and timely offense. The Crimson will look to run its record to 4-0 at home when UMass comes to town Saturday afternoon at Lavietes Pavilion (2:00 p.m., ESPN3). Below, The Back Page takes a look at the three main things to keep your eye on as Harvard goes for its first marquee nonconference win of the season.