EASTON, Pa. - Does Chris Pizzotti have a pro future?
"Absolutely, no doubt about it," said Harvard coach Tim Murphy after his senior quarterback shredded the Lafayette secondary for 231 yards and a 67-yard touchdown toss to Chris Lorditch in a 27-13 dismantling yesterday of the previously unbeaten Leopards.
Pizzotti, a 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pounder out of Reading (Mass.) High, climbed into 10th place on the Ivy League's all-time passing yardage list even though he wasn't close to having a career day. He'd thrown for more than 300 yards in his last three starts, but settled for 15 completions in 28 attempts in this one.
For Harvard (2-1), the 2007 Ivy League kingpin, it was a happy turnaround after the tough-luck 24-22 loss to Brown a week ago and a boost to expectations of another run at the Ivy crown.
But it was a devastating loss for Lafayette (3-1), after the Patriot League representative whipped its first three foes by a combined 76-29. It was Harvard's eighth consecutive victory over Lafayette.
"I can see why they like playing us," said Lafayette coach Frank Tavani. "If I was Harvard, I'd like playing us, too, especially the way we played today.
"They played their best football this year and we may have played our worst. We like playing the best and Harvard is the Ivy League's best."
Actually, the Harvard offensive line, keyed by veterans James Williams at left tackle and Zach Copple at right guard, deserved as much credit as Pizzotti and his receivers.
Pizzotti got all the protection he needed. With junior running back Cheng Ho (20 carries, 108 yards) having a big day, too, the Leopards, who'd gained votes in last week's Football Championship Subdivision polls, were never in it after the Crimson built a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter.
In a sense, this was two different games. It was Harvard up, 24-13, at halftime, and with both teams' defenses tightening up in the second half, the only other score was Patrick Long's 45-yard field goal - Harvard's longest since 1993 - with just under six minutes to play.
Lafayette marched 50 yards with the opening kickoff but settled for Davis Rodriguez's 23-yard field goal after stalling at the 6. The Crimson retaliated with a 67-yard TD drive capped by Ho's 1-yard blast through the middle. Before the quarter was out, Harvard tacked on a 41-yard field goal by Long.
It went to 17-3 on Pizzotti's heave to Lorditch, the sophomore wide receiver, who streaked down the right sideline for a 67-yard score at 12:14 of the second.
Lafayette responded with Rob Curley's 22-yard TD toss to Shaun Adair, who fought off cornerback Andrew Berry at the goal line, only to see Harvard charge right back. Sophomore tailback Gino Gordon took an option handoff and scooted around the Leopards' right from the 3, building the lead back to 14 at 24-10. Rodriguez booted a 41-yarder to make it 24-13 at the break.
Curley had an impressive day, too - 23 of 39 for 220 yards and the single score - but he was intercepted twice and sacked three times. With four solo stops, five assists, and a sack, senior tackle Matt Curtis, a 6-2, 255-pounder out of Lynn, Mass., was the bulwark of the Harvard defensive unit.
With Cornell up next, life in the passing lanes won't get any easier for Pizzotti and his receivers. Mike Cook is out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle and Marco Iannuzzi is questionable with a shoulder injury.
On top of that, Lorditch went down in the fourth quarter with "either a broken ankle or a high ankle sprain," said Murphy.
"Cornell's always tough," said Murphy. "Obviously, we'll have to make some adjustments."