One moment turned Harvard’s Andrew Fischer into legend

Andrew Fischer (Courtesy Harvard Athletic Communications)

What do you do when you become a legend before your time? What do you do when your name will forever be mentioned in association with one of college football’s most storied rivalries?

Harvard-Cornell-game-factsIn the case of Harvard senior wide receiver Andrew Fischer, you try not to think about it — a difficult thing, considering that even now, a year after he became the latest hero in the Harvard-Yale rivalry (or is it Yale-Harvard?), people still want to rehash his star turn, still want to talk about his game-winning 35-yard touchdown reception from Conner Hempel last Nov. 22.

Fischer nonetheless tries to keep the catch (or is it now The Catch?) in its proper place. And never mind that it came in what has long been known as The Game.

“I honestly think that it’s something that I’m not able to comprehend at this point,” the Diamond Bar, Calif., native said. “I’ve thought about it before, but I think it’s just a great experience for me.”

And then some. He called it “an unreal moment” and “surreal,” and said it dwarfed even his acceptance into Harvard, no small accomplishment.

At the same time, he said: “I’d put the win for the team over any personal achievements. I think that’s one thing that will definitely stick with me more than anything – the accomplishments that the team made, and continues to make.”

The Crimson, 3-0 this season, carries a 17-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at 0-3 Cornell, the second-longest active Division I streak behind Ohio State’s 18-gamer. The two-time defending Ivy League champs have also won 12 straight league games, and 11 straight on the road.

ICYMI: Harvard’s 17-game win streak

The 5-9, 175-pound Fischer has contributed a team-high 12 receptions this season, and is averaging 21 yards on four punt returns, the fifth-best FCS average. Already 10th on the Crimson’s all-time receiving list, his next catch will be the 100th of his career.

His 1,152 receiving yards are 14th all-time, and his 55 catches last season represent the sixth-best season in school history. Twelve of those came at Brown, the sixth-best day a Crimson receiver has ever enjoyed.

Yet he will forever be remembered for one catch, and one catch only.

The host Crimson built a 24-7 lead over Yale after three quarters last season, only to see the Bulldogs tie it late in the game. Then Harvard mounted a drive, and on first down from the Yale 35 Fischer, amid a day that saw him catch eight balls and accumulate 264 all-purpose yards, ran a slant-and-go route on cornerback Dale Harris.

That gave Fischer a sliver of daylight, but it was enough. Hempel delivered the pass, and Fischer cruised into the end zone with 55 seconds left, as bedlam erupted.

It has abated only slightly. After a game two weeks ago, Fischer said, a fan approached him and said the catch still gives him chills.

“That was something that definitely stuck out,” Fischer said, “that that play one, is still being discussed; and two, that it had that much of an impact on people.”

Fischer hopes to play in the NFL next season, but barring that has an offer for a sales/trading job from Bank of America, where he interned last summer. Either way, he will have to someday put football behind him.

“I think sales and trading is definitely the place for me,” he said. “It’s a great environment to be in. It’s fast-paced. Everything is constantly moving. You have to make decisions on the fly. I think it’s something that definitely suits my athletic traits and carries over into work.”

But there is more to do now. More games to play, including The Game, on Nov. 21.

More history, potentially, to be made.

Above: Harvard’s Andrew Fischer earned a spot in Crimson lore with his game-saving, final seconds catch against Yale in 2014. (Courtesy Harvard Athletic Communications)




Gordie Jones

Gordie Jones is a freelance writer based in Lititz, Pa.