Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan rears back for a throw against the Crimson.
To say that that the 2017 Ivy League Football season has not gone according to plan would be an understatement. Many pundits picked Cornell and Columbia to finish in the bottom of the league, but four games into conference play, the Empire State colleges find themselves tied for first with Yale. Meanwhile, traditional powerhouses Harvard, Princeton, and Penn find themselves in the middle and bottom half of the standings. With three weeks remaining, and with no tiebreaker for league champions, the Ancient Eight football title race is wide open, with seven of the eight teams still in contention.
Unfortunately for the Bears, their 0-4 league record has eliminated them from contention. But make no mistake—Brown still has an opportunity to have a say in the championship. With games against Yale in New Haven, Conn., Dartmouth at Fenway Park, and on the road at Columbia, the Bears can play spoiler down the stretch.
The Cinderella story of the 2017 season, Columbia is off to its hottest start since 1996. The Lions lost their first league game of the season against Yale on Saturday afternoon. This result narrowed Columbia’s margin of error as the team seeks its first league title since 1961, and only its second Ivy League championship. At 3-1, the Lions still control their own destiny, but huge matchups against Harvard and at Cornell loom ahead. Fortunately for the Lions, their final game of the season comes at home against cellar-dwelling Brown, giving Columbia arguably the most straightforward path to the championship.
After opening the season with a 49-24 loss at Yale, the Big Red rebounded, winning games against heavily favored Harvard, and Brown. A game-winning field goal in the dying seconds of Saturday night’s tilt at Princeton lifted Cornell to a shocking 3-1 league record and a share of first place, one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season. With a date against Columbia in Ithaca looming two weeks out, the Big Red has control of its own fate. Winning out would mean at least a shared Ancient Eight crown, the program’s first since 1990.
The Big Green opened the season with two nail-biting wins over Penn and Yale and appeared primed for a run at the hardware. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, one-possession losses to Columbia and at Harvard have left the team in the middle of the Ivy League pack at 2-2. Like Princeton, the Big Green will have to win out and hope for a Lions loss. However, with two of its three games at home, and the third on the road at Brown, Dartmouth remains in the hunt.
A 52-17 home loss against Princeton two weeks ago deflated title hopes for the Crimson, but a 25-22 comeback against Dartmouth kept Harvard in the race for a share of its fourth championship in five years. The Crimson has a must-win matchup Saturday in New York City against Columbia. A win against the upstart Lions, followed by a victory over Penn, would keep Harvard’s title hopes alive entering the final weekend of the season. If Cornell were to lose a game to the Big Green, the Quakers, or Columbia, the Crimson would ride into New Haven with an opportunity to beat Yale to earn a share of the championship.
Home losses against Dartmouth and Yale, combined with a heartbreaking overtime defeat at Columbia, have stacked the deck against the one-win Quakers. Penn’s bumpy start to 2017 contrasts with recent years, as the Quakers have shared the title in the last two seasons. Technically, Penn can still earn part of the crown, but that situation would involve some ridiculous events, most notably Brown winning out. More likely, the Quakers will have an opportunity to affect the race by playing spoiler against Princeton and Cornell at home and Harvard on the road.
Princeton’s 52-17 win at Harvard two weeks ago appeared to poise the Tigers for a run at the championship. Last Saturday night, however, a heartbreaking 29-28 loss at home against Cornell left Princeton at 2-2. The Tigers’ road to a share of the title would likely require a 3-0 finish against Penn, Yale, and Dartmouth, supplemented with a Columbia loss.
A 28-27 road loss at Dartmouth is all that separates the Bulldogs from a 4-0 record. However, the Bulldogs rose to the occasion last week, soundly beating previously undefeated Columbia. Tied atop the standings at 3-1, wins against Brown and Princeton would set up a Harvard-Yale game with serious implications. If Yale were to defeat the Crimson in the 134th edition of The Game, the Elis would then secure a piece of the title. Yale last earned a share in 2006.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 121st captain of the Harvard football team, scrambles around the pass rush.
After 144 years of play, the Harvard football program boasts nine national championships, 14 Ivy League titles, and 20 inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame. It’s hard to be the first to do anything. Last Sunday, however, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick proved that he’s still in the business of breaking Crimson records.
With a touchdown to tight end Cameron Brate ’14 in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, Fitzpatrick completed the first Harvard-to-Harvard scoring pass in NFL history. While the Cardinals earned a 38-33 victory, the score testified to the growing relevance of Crimson players at the professional level.
Last Sunday, Fitzpatrick made it onto the field after an injury to starter Jameis Winston. Midway through the third quarter, the Cardinals held a 31-0 lead. Few could blame Tampa Bay fans for leaving the University of Phoenix Stadium. But Fitzpatrick, Brate, and company still had life.
A third-quarter score reduced the deficit to 31-6. Then, with 13:32 left, the unique event occurred. On third-and-goal from the 10, Fitzpatrick dropped back, scanned the field, and fired a rocket through a pack of defenders.
Another Crimson alumnus was waiting in the end zone. Brate had weaved his way through the Arizona secondary and turned to locate the ball. Hedging a defender with his shoulder, he reeled in the catch and tiptoed inbounds.
The touchdown sparked a larger rally, as the Buccaneers got within 38-33 with 2:02 left. However, the Cardinals recovered the ensuing onsides kick to clinch the contest.
Although nearly a decade apart, Fitzpatrick and Brate had strikingly similar Harvard experiences. The two Dunster House residents guided the Crimson to multiple Ancient Eight championships. As seniors, both players led their squads to 10-0 campaigns.
Fitzpatrick, a Mathematics concentrator, displayed his Harvard roots at the NFL combine, where he scored a whopping 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test. That performance, which assessed cognitive ability, earned Fitzpatrick some pre-draft media attention.
Selected as the sixth-to-last pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick has stuck around for more than a decade. Now in his 13th year and on his seventh team, the quarterback has passed for over 26,000 yards and 169 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Brate graduated from Harvard in 2014 with an Economics degree. Undrafted, he earned a roster spot through preseason tryouts. Last year, “The Brate Train” picked up speed by scoring eight touchdowns.
Having notched four scores already in 2017, Brate looks to further his success—perhaps with the help of a familiar quarterback.
Harvard’s elite contingent of professional athletes continue to make a substantial impact as we near the end of 2016.
JEREMY LIN ‘10
The Nets’ brand-new starting point guard and lone Ivy alum in the NBA, is off strong start in his seventh year in the league. Through four games, Lin is averaging 16.3 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, all of which would be good for career-highs. A down year in Brooklyn figures to give Lin the opportunity to cement himself as a centerpiece of the team.
RYAN FITZPATRICK ’05
The former Crimson standout's struggles have been well-documented through the first eight weeks of the 2016 NFL season. A dismal performance against the Chiefs in Week 3—a game in which he went 20-for-44 in the air and threw six picks—helped lead to his league-leading 11 interceptions and lowest completion rate (56.1%) among QBs with at least 200 attempts. With replacement Geno Smith out for the season after tearing his ACL in Week 7, Fitzpatrick regained the chance to turn around the Jets disappointing 3-5 start after a 2015-16 resurgence.
JIMMY VESEY '16
The New York Rangers’ is tied for second in the NHL with six goals, trailing only Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. Vesey’s rookie campaign is off to a flying start, and with nine points, the Boston native is already skating with the first line. The breakout left wing tallied three points last night against the Blues, scored and assisted in a 5-2 dismantling of his hometown Bruins Oct. 26, and netted two goals four days earlier against the Caps. It figures to be a race between Vesey and Toronto’s first overall selection Auston Matthews for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the rookie of the year.
Published by Cade Palmer
on September 27, 2016 at 12:12AM
While freshman standout Bente van Vlijmen earned Athlete of the Week honors for her three-goal weekend performance on the field hockey pitch, other Crimson athletes had solid games of their own.
PAIGE KEBE, OUTSIDE HITTER, WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL
In its first Ivy League matchup of the season, the Harvard women’s volleyball team defeated rival Dartmouth with an offensive performance from junior outside hitter Paige Kebe.
Despite losing the conference opener to Dartmouth (6-5, 0-1 Ivy) in the two seasons prior to this one, Friday’s match was won handedly by the Crimson (3-7, 1-0) in three sets (27-25, 25-16, 25-23). Kebe led the team in kills with 11, while teammates sophomore Christina Cornelius, freshman Maclaine Fields and freshman Grace Roberts Burbank each added seven of their own. Kebe also tallied a dig, a block and, with her 26 total attempts, a hitting efficiency of .346. Overall, the junior hitter led the team with 11.5 points on the match.
With the win, Kebe’s kills for the season rise to 76, the second best for the team behind only Cornelius, who currently sits at 83. Now with 270 total attempts, her hitting efficiency has risen to .167 and her total points to 82.5, the third highest for the team.
This Friday, the women’s volleyball team looks to maintain their undefeated Ivy League record in a match at Princeton. The Tigers (7-3, 1-0) are also looking to sustain an unblemished conference record as they are coming off a close five-set victory against Penn.
DEFENSIVE BACKS, FOOTBALL
Traveling to Providence to play Brown in their annual Homecoming game, the Harvard football team (2-0, 1-0) held its pass-happy opponent to only three touchdowns through the air in the path to a 32-22 victory.
The Crimson’s defensive backs played a heavy hand in holding Brown (1-1, 0-1) standout senior receiver Alex Jette to 79 yards, in addition to intercepting quarterback Kyle Moreno on three separate occasions. The first of these came early in the second quarter at the hands of senior safety Kolbi Brown. Grabbing the ball at the Brown 45, the Crimson safety returned it to the 20, giving the offense the opportunity to capitalize on the turnover with a field goal.
Up 32-16 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Crimson defense struggled as the Bears marched down the field. As Brown drove to the Harvard 19, their offensive push was stopped with a well timed interception by junior safety Tanner Lee on the Crimson’s own two-yard line. Lee would return the ball 21 yards to the Harvard 23. However, the drive would end in a fumble for Harvard.
Again, Brown charged down field, stopped by yet another interception, this time by sophomore cornerback Wesley Ogsbury on the Harvard 37 yard-line. It would be these two late interceptions that kept the Brown offense at bay throughout the fourth quarter, securing the win for the Crimson.
Published by Sam Danello
on February 05, 2016 at 10:45AM
Crimson fans can add another color to their wardrobe.
As of a few weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns have emerged as a possible darling of the student body, filling their front office with a selection of Harvard graduates. Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, and Andrew Berry compose what is likely the most intriguing management in professional football—and, perhaps, a new bandwagon team for Crimson fans.