Sitting high above the action at Lafayette's Fisher Field Saturday during the first quarter, I started to worry. By this time, as my logic and friends had told me, Harvard should be up at least two touchdowns.
Instead, only five minutes remained in the quarter and the high-powered Crimson offensive onslaught that was so prevalent against Brown had failed to materialize.
In its place, a scrambling, stumbling offense had failed to get a first down. In fact, the Harvard offense through the first three series had lost 32 yards. Lafayette was leading 7-0, and most of us sitting up in the press box couldn't figure out how the Crimson might break out of the slump.
As it turned out, of course, I needn't have worried. Harvard rolled off 21 unanswered points and ended up winning 42-19. Junior quarterback Neil Rose impressed once again, throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more. Fifth-string tailback Nick Palazzo picked up 101 yards, and the defense shut down any semblance of a Leopard attack.
Behind the flashy offensive numbers (379 total yards, 265 passing yards), however, another, more important reason for the Crimson's recent success hides. This is, as all football fans and observers know, the offensive line in the "battle in the trenches."
This weekend's game can essentially be split into two parts: the first quarter and all the others. Harvard started its first possession with what could be construed as a potentially bad omen. Center Jason Hove, starting instead of John Kadzielski, the usual center, tossed a high snap to Rose, who was in the shotgun formation. Rose bobbled the snap, and was sacked and called for intentional grounding. The Crimson ended up going three-and-out.
On the next try, Lafayette was able to pressure the offense on three consecutive plays, resulting in an incomplete pass, a quarterback scramble and a sack.
It got worse still. On Harvard's next possession, Rose was sacked for a loss of 12 yards. Then he was flushed out of the pocket for an incomplete pass. Finally he took another bad snap, looked for the option and instead saw four Lafayette defenders running at him. He quickly ran out of bounds to set up fourth-and-26.
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