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FCS East Wrapup: The Real Hatch Attack

(Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Worcester Telegram-Gazette)

If you're an avid fan of Football Championship Subdivision football, perhaps you've heard of the "Hatch Attack", the type of triple-option offense used by head coach Andrew Hatch down at Murray State. Hatch, a former head coach at Georgia Southern, came up with the offense and was the unquestioned owner of that term going into this weekend.

After the 34-6 drubbing of Holy Cross by Harvard, though, it has a new owner and usage.

Harvard senior QB Andrew Hatch, riding a near-perfect evening, dismantled Holy Cross 34-6 in a game that should serve as notice for future opponents of the Crimson this year. Beating Harvard is going to be awfully tough. (more)


Hatch's statline is only part of the story. Going 20 for 25, with 276 yards passing, 39 yards rushing and 3 TDs, he was completely in control of the game from the opening snap, starting off the game 8-for-9 and never really looking back. Four offensive drives in the first half, four scores. Three of his first five incompletions were drops.

“Hatch just made a lot of good decisions,” Harvard head coach Tim Murphy said after the game. “We talked all preseason about it’s one thing being a good thrower and another thing being a good quarterback. He really did a good job. We pretty much executed our gameplan as planned."

How good was Hatch? Take this example from the Holy Cross game, as reported by the Worcester Times-Gazette: "In one instance, Hatch scrambled to his left, a difficult feat for a right-handed quarterback. He then dodged an oncoming Crusader, tucked the ball under his arm to run, and only at the last instant decided instead to throw a pass to Richards [which was caught]."

“[They saw] he was going to run, and he made the choice to pull up and then pass the ball,” WR Marco Iannuzzi said of the play. “It shows his field awareness [and] his quarterback smarts. He knows where his receivers are going to be.”

“He’s just one of those quarterbacks who brings that calming presence into the huddle,” WR Levi Richards added. “You’d walk off a cliff for the guy.”

Holy Cross knows a lot about smart, precise play at QB. They've just finished enjoying the era of QB Dominic Randolph, the best quarterback in Crusader and Patriot League history. The performance of senior QB Ryan Taggart and junior QB Kevin Watson didn't come anywhere close to reminding the Purple faithful of those days, however.

“We’re not making plays and we’re just not executing the assignments that we’re capable of executing,” a frustrated Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore said. “We went against a very good football team that did execute. We were ready for what they did. We just didn’t play well enough. I’ve got to believe we’ve got to make some changes and refocus how we’re preparing and figure out how we can be a lot more productive on offense and stop making these mistakes on defense.”

To be fair, Harvard's defense was every bit the offenses' equal as well, only allowing two drives over 40 yards all game, one of which occurred in the final quarter with the game not in doubt. The other long drive was stuffed when junior LB Alex Gedeon nabbed an interception before halftime.

Harvard will face off against Brown next weekend in what should be a fascinating game that could have serious Ivy League title ramifications. Last weekend, the Bears knocked off defending Big South Champion Stony Brook 33-30 in double overtime.

Elsewhere around the world of FCS football:

  • There's a piece at the College Sporting News, written by yours truly, that gives the incontrovertible evidence that Michigan has Armanti Envy. UMass came close to upsetting Michigan in the Big House - almost becoming the second nationally-ranked FCS team to do so - but fell 42-37 in a tightly contested game.
  • It's been a fantastic week of FCS football in Massachusetts - but down in New Haven, Connecticut, it was a thrilling week of football as well. Those of you who thought the words "Georgetown" and "barn burner" would never belong in the same sentence, eat your words: in a game where junior QB Scott Darby would throw for 340 yards and 2 TDs, the Hoyas would lose in the last ten seconds of the game as a run by RB Patrick Witt would give the Eli a thrilling 40-35 win.

    Notably, Yale head coach Tom Williams elected to run the ball for victory instead of line up for a chip-shot field goal - because the Hoyas had already blocked kicks, including a 18 yard chip shot late in the game that would have given Yale the lead. "I was a little shocked when we called the quarterback sneak," Witt said after the game. "I knew if we didn't get in it was game over."

    “We had several chances,” head coach Kevin Kelly said after the game. “We had the football, if we got a first down I think we could have run the clock out. Then we punted, a poor punt, and our defense let them score…We had plenty of opportunities to close the game out.”

    Senior WR Keerome Lawrence had a career day, with 135 all-purpose yards and a TD, ans sophomore CB Jeremy Moore made the Hoya's first kickoff return for a TD since 2004. Both made Patriot League Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Week honors respectively.

    Georgetown will host Holy Cross this weekend with a chance to go 2-0 in Patriot League play - no, really, who had that game circled on their calendar in September? - while Yale will take a trip to Ithaca, New York to face Cornell, who was thoroughly embarrassed 41-7 in their season opener this weekend at Wagner.
  • No. 1 Villanova trounced Towson 43-7, beating the Tigers by a 36 point margin (instead of the mere 35-point margin they racked up over Lehigh the week before.) In other news regarding former Lehigh opponents in 2010, No. 22 Montana State beat Drake 48-21 in a game where the Bulldogs hung in there for about a half before three big Bobcat drives would in esssence put the game away.
  • Before renewing their rivalry with their "old friend" Colgate next weekend, FBS Syracuse tuned up with a 38-14 drubbing of Maine of the CAA, New Hampshire's biggest CAA rival. Encouragingly, the 1-2 Black Bears were on the verge of a 21-10 lead when WR Derrick Session dropped a sure touchdown pass. The next play, Maine turned over the ball, and the Orange would score the next four touchdowns to rout the Black Bears.
  • Rivalries aren't always pretty: sometimes they're downright ugly. But Fordham will take an ugly win over a pretty loss as they topped Columbia 16-9 in 9th annual Liberty Cup. "The Rams eventually wore the Lions down with a relentless running attack and a timely pass or two to score their first and deciding TD late in the fourth quarter," reported Jake Novak at Roar Lions Roar. Junior RB Darryl Whiting, who got the 1 yard plunge to take the league, scored the deciding TD, while sophomore PJ Patrick Murray would add all the rest of Fordham's points in the form of 3 FGs (24, 22 and 21 yards), an extra point - and, for good measure, six punts for a 38.7 yard average.

    On defense senior CB Isa Abdul-Quddus would force a key fumble on a kickoff return, and sophomore LB Michael Martin would lead the Rams with 11 tackles and 1 1/2 tackles for loss in a solid defensive effort. Fordham would hold Columbia to 275 yards in the game.

    Fordham will welcome Division II Assumption to Jack Coffey field this weekend - and before you think this will be a walkover, note that the Greyhounds are 3-0 and already own a win over Wagner of the NEC. Columbia will welcome Towson to town.
  • “What I thought they did well, they got us in situations where we had to make tackles in space. There were certain situations where we were out-athleticed,” said Bucknell head coach Joe Susan in a 43-20 defeat to Dartmouth.

    Down 20-6 right before halftime, the Big Green erupted for an amazing 37 unanswered points over the Bison with a balanced attack from RB Nick Schweiger (273 all-purpose yards, 2 TDs) and QB Connor Kempe (17 of 23 passing, 211 yards, 3 TDs). The Bison had no answer for the Schweiger show, as the Dartmouth defense held Bucknell to four consecutive three-and-outs in the second half to close things out.

    Bucknell has a bye week to try to figure everything out, while the Big Green host 1-2 Sacred Heart for a golden opportunity to go 2-0 for the first time since 1997. The Pioneers were dumped 41-0 by St. Francis (PA), thanks to seven interceptions.
  • "They decided they were going to be able to hump the ball on us, and they did it," Lafayette Coach Frank Tavani said Sunday after Lafayette let a 14-3 lead slip away as the Quakers won the 800th game in program history, 19-14.

    The two Leopard scores came from defense and special teams - senior DT Michael Phillips returned a tipped ball interception for a TD - and Penn's defense was as tough as advertised, forcing four interceptions, and allowing only 8 first downs and 168 yards of total offense. Even so, it took a late drive - and RB Lyle Marsh - to give the Quakers the victory.

    Senior QB Marc Quilling, was anointed the starter originally, but after his third interception, he was replaced by a guy who was on crutches earlier in the week: junior QB Ryan O'Neil. "All week we prepared with Marc as the starter and sophomore QB Andrew [Shoop] took the majority of backup reps," Tavani said after the game. "I'm sure [Shoop] probably wonders why I [went with O'Neil], but at the time, and given the situation, I felt it would be better to let Ryan do it with his experience rather than throw Andrew in there for the first time; I'd rather not have that be his first time out there. After [O'Neil] took the first hit, I was kicking myself because that's the very reason I didn't play him earlier and was hesitant to put him in the first place. The worst scenario happened, but we dodged a bullet. He'll be ready to go Saturday."

    Penn faces off against Villanova in a game that should be a dandy "Big 5" rivalry this Saturday, while Lafayette desperately will be looking to avoid an 0-3 start as they face Princeton.
  • Finally, if Lehigh fans were hoping to catch perennial playoff powerhouse New Hampshire off guard, think again. The nationally-ranked Wildcats led most of the way against Rhode Island - but then, in the last two minutes, everything went horribly wrong.

    Up 25-21, Ram DE Victor Adesanya stripped the ball on an pass attempt by QB R. J. Toman, which was scooped up by DE James Timmins and returned for a TD to put the Rams up 28-25. One minute later, Toman would be intercepted by S Matt Urban. Game over. Upset by an old Yankee Conference rival: Check. Pissed off Wildcats in time for Lehigh: Check.

    "We have to play better," said head coach Sean McDonnell during Monday's CAA conference call. "We have to protect the quarterback better. ... (R.J.) was 31 for 44 (for 284 yards and two TDs). He made a bunch of great throws on different plays and ran side to side very well. When he's got time to do what he does, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

    "We go back and play Lehigh a really, really good football team. They've beaten Drake and Princeton. They played probably one of the best teams in the country in Villanova and were in the game with them until the middle of the third quarter. We've got our hands full coming up this weekend at Cowell Stadium. The good thing about it, we're home. We've got to be able to play a little bit better."

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