Harvard's football season closed on Franklin Field, Philadelphia, last Saturday afternoon, with a defeat by the University of Pennsylvania, the score being 15 to 6.
The game was played under the most favorable weather conditions, although the slippery ground caused the Harvard backs to stumble at times. As compared with the '96 elevens which met on the same field, Pennsylvania had made a most noticeable advance in football. In the kicking department there was a great advance. She had a larger number of offensive plays, including a place drop kick, which was successful, and some fakes on "guards-back" formations, which gained several times. The one play used always for gains was the "guards-back" formation with its many variations. Her greatest improvement, however, was in her defensive play, where the line was far stronger, and in which, when the opposing fullback punted, she had an extra man on each end to prevent the opposing ends from getting down on the ball.
Harvard may not have been weaker than a year ago, but she could not gain as well by rushing. The line plays were not tried to any great extent, the chief reliance being placed on trick and end plays. Her defense, though twice admirable in holding their opponents for downs within the five-yard line, was not developed to resist the mass plays hurled at the line. On the whole, Harvard's defense, especially in the second half, was a trifle better, though her offense was not so good as it was a year ago.
Still, man for man, the work of the Harvard eleven might be compared favorably with that of Pennsylvania. Between the teams, however, there could be no comparison-Harvard played with eleven men, Pennsylvania with an eleven. But for the individual work of Dibblee, Garrison and Parker, Harvard could never have scored; while in every score made by Pennsylvania it can justly be said that every man had a part. Harvard's slow, careless playing was taken advantage of by Pennsylvania many times.
It may be said that the Harvard men went into the game determined to do their best, that they played as well as they were capable of goes without questioning, but after the first three minutes every spectator almost felt that Harvard was outclassed. Had the men played with the dash they showed in parts of the Brown, the Cornell and the Wesleyan games, they might have won; but they were incapable of it. Harvard, try hard as she would, was not able to get out of that slow gait, while the Pennsylvania men were quick, snappy and ever active. It may be that the Harvard men were not over-trained, but something certainly was the matter.
As to the game itself, after Pennsylvania had been hard pushed Minds relieved the strain by punting the ball far into Harvard's territory. After exchanges by the fullbacks Pennsylvania resorted to rushing, carrying the ball to Harvard's 5 yard line, where she lost it on downs. A fair catch of Haughton's punt entitled Morice to try for a goal from the field, but he failed. This, however, did not discourage Pennsylvania, for when she had rushed the ball back to Harvard's 25 yard line again Minds succeeded in making a goal from the field on a place kick.
After a great deal of kicking Pennsylvania rushed the ball across the goal line on the "guards back" formation plays, Minds scoring the touchdown and kicking the goal.
Harvard's only touchdown was made on a run of 55 yards by Parker, who went through the left side of Pennsylvania's line and ran down along the side line. Garrison's excellent blocking off of Morice and Outland enabled Parker to score. Haughton kicked a perfect goal. Score, 11 to 6.
To the surprise of almost everyone Pennsylvania scored but once in the second half, this one touchdown being made by continuous poundings at Harvard's guards and tackles. Haughton skillfully blocked the punt out by Overfield, making the score 15 to 6. Though Pennsylvania carried the ball once afterwards from her own 25 yard line to Harvard's one yard line, on her same mass-formation and fakes around the end, she could not make another touchdown. Morice towards the end of the game tried for another goal from the field on a drop kick but it was blocked.
Garrison played excellently on the defensive throughout the game, making many brilliant tackles, while his blocking off on the offensive as well as his dodging when he ran with the ball were superb. Dibblee played in his usual determined excellent style, making many brilliant runs. Haughton, so far as punting was concerned, was a success, but otherwise he was of no service. Mills, because of his ignorance of the signals, several times blocked his own backs in the interference. He tackled well, however. Richardson's lightness prevented him from downing the heavy Pennsylvania backs without being dragged several yards before they were stopped. Moulton played as well as could have been expected considering Pennsylvania's novel system of blocking the ends. Parker got started badly at times but showed excellent form in his running when once he got started.
Doucette, Haskell, Bouve and Wheeler stood the heavy attacks aimed at them bravely, though usually ineffectually. It would be unfair to place the blame for the gains made by Pennsylvania on the "guards-back" play on the man at whom the plays were aimed. No one man could be expected to stop these plays.
A method of defense, if such formations are legal and are to be continued, has yet to be found against them. And if Harvard expects to win games from big teams, it seem that she too must find some such play which can be depended upon for consecutive gains.
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