Wideout Plays Through Pain To Help Win The Game

Marco Polo
Kevin H. Lin

Senior wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi made quite a splash on Saturday against Yale—his first appearance since breaking his clavicle against Lafayette on Oct. 2. He took the opening kickoff of the second half 84 yards for a game-tying touchdown that boosted the Crimson to a 28-21 victory in The Game, earning Iannuzzi the title of Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week. He also hauled in a 46-yard pass to set up the team’s first touchdown of the day.

Having overcome every other obstacle in his way, Marco Iannuzzi seemed to have met his match in a broken clavicle. Instead, the senior wide receiver made it back to the gridiron in time to make Crimson history and help his senior class secure a 4-0 record against Yale with Harvard’s 28-21 victory over the Bulldogs.

“He can do anything he sets his mind to,” junior quarterback Collier Winters said. “His character and never-say-die attitude allow him to bounce back.”

A week after becoming the first Crimson football player since 2006 to return a kickoff for a touchdown, Iannuzzi broke his clavicle in Harvard’s game against Lafayette.

“During the Lafayette game, I came down on it,” he recalled. “And when I came to the sideline I knew something was wrong with it. It’s happened before. During the Brown game [two years ago], the same thing happened.”

But while Iannuzzi knew immediately that his clavicle was injured, he thought he might be able to avoid surgery.

“The initial plan was [trying] to go for a simple bone graft...which wouldn’t have required surgery,” he said. “We thought that at nine in the morning the day after. By about noon, my doctor called me and said, ‘The fractures won’t heal properly. We’ll have to do surgery if you want it to repair right.’...I had a previous plate...We chiseled those and put them into the new fracture. It promotes faster healing for laying down bones. There were some risks to having it so close to the [center line]. The doctor really pulled through a miracle.”

While his clavicle was healing, Iannuzzi worked to keep up his fitness and receiving ability.

“In week one, two, I was biking, doing cardio,” he said. “Week three, I was able to start running. Week four, I started catching. I ran full practice: everything minus hitting.”

His efforts did not go unnoticed by his teammates.

“Marco’s always been a wonderful leader,” said sophomore running back Treavor Scales. “He’s always helping coach the young returners. [He’s always helping] guide us along, keep us informed and on point. It was monumental to see him come back. As a young player coming up on this team, to see a senior work so hard to come back was phenomenal.”

But despite his improvement, Iannuzzi didn’t get cleared to play until two days before The Game.

“[The doctor] said, ‘As soon as you take your shot, it’s going to hurt,’” Iannuzzi said. “If I was willing to deal with that, he was going to give me clearance...It was just a matter of dealing with pain. I’ve never taken taken pain medication—I’ve just built up a tolerance for pain.”

Crimson coach Tim Murphy was still hesitant to employ the receiver in the first half.

But when Iannuzzi was let loose, he made one of the biggest plays of the game, a 46-yard reception on a flea-flicker play that set his team up for its first touchdown of the day.

“For him being out as many weeks as he was and being on the same page says a lot about him,” Winters said. “He made a great play. He’s definitely a big-time deep threat. He did a great job catching the ball.”