Saturday’s matchup between Harvard and Princeton was the historic 100th meeting between the two Ivy rivals.
It also turned out to be a historic day for quarterback Chris Pizzotti.
The senior threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-10 victory, a performance that vaulted him into the Crimson record books.
Not only was Pizzoti’s effort a career high, but his aerial assault on the Tigers was also the fourth-highest single-game passing total in Harvard history.
Pizzotti completed 23 of 35 attempts on the day, connecting for two touchdowns and throwing to seven different receivers in the process.
The Tigers’ defense struggled to contain Pizzotti, as he often scrambled freely in the pocket to create more time for his receivers downfield. Princeton only managed to sack the senior once on the day.
“I work on it each week,” Pizzotti said of his scrambling abilities. “And the receivers were doing a great job of getting open when I scrambled out. It definitely helps, having confidence in the receivers, knowing they’re going to make the right adjustment when I start scrambling, and they were in the right spot each time.”
His ability to roll out of the pocket became apparent when a five-yard route by junior tight end Jason Miller became a 59-yard completion in the second quarter.
It was the game’s longest play from scrimmage, and it came to fruition thanks to Pizzotti buying his target some time.
“We got a lot of plays off of him rolling around and keeping the play alive and giving us a chance,” Miller said of Pizzotti.
“I think in fairness to Princeton, a lot of the plays were improvised by Chris,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said after the game. “I think this is a dimension where we have improved so much, and that is, improvising when things aren’t perfect.”
Pizzotti set the tone from the beginning, leading the Crimson to its first touchdown on the team’s first possession with a five-play drive that was capped by a 41-yard touchdown strike to senior Corey Mazza.
“We had a play called, and they gave us a different defense than we expected,” Pizzotti said of the play. “It was great coverage, and I just rolled out, Corey wheeled up the sideline, and was wide open, and I just tried to get the ball out as soon as I could.”
Pizzotti later led the final drive of the day, a six-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a connection to sophomore Mike Cook to seal the win for Harvard.
Though his performance did not net him the title of Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honor—that went to Cornell running back Randy Barbour, who recorded 159 yards and three touchdowns on the day in a 38-31 overtime win over Brown—it did displace former Crimson great Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05, who now backs up Carson Palmer for the Cincinnati Bengals in NFL.
This season began with Pizzotti playing a supporting role to first-stringer Liam O’Hagan, who won the starting job early in the preseason.
But O’Hagan suffered a dislocated shoulder during a Week 3 loss at Lehigh, and an injury that ended his season prematurely.
Since then, Pizzotti has guided Harvard to three straight wins. His career mark now sits at 7-1, and he’s undefeated in games in which he’s both started and finished.
And with just four games to go in his career, perhaps he’s finally proving that he’s capable of leading the Crimson into the second half of the Ivy schedule.
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