An undermanned Crimson football team did its best to spoil Holy Cross' opening game in the Stadium Saturday, holding the visitors to a 6 to 6 tie through the first quarter; but the superior talent and depth of the Crusaders was more than enough to give them an eventual, and fairly easy, 33 to 7 victory.
This game started as a rout, tightened as the Crimson capitalized on breaks which it had forced, then fell apart again simply because Holy Cross blocked better, faked better, ran better, and passed better. Only liberal use of reserves by Crusader coach Eddie Anderson--plus seven fumbles and 124 yards of penalties--kept the score reasonable. And the Crusader subs were able to push over a touchdown, too.
Holy Cross took an under-par three minutes to open the scoring. The Crusaders received the opening kickoff, then moved upfield from their own 26 to score in eight plays. Unable to match the Purple's speed, and completely baffied by Charlie Maloy's ball-handling, the Crimson line offered no resistance at all.
Key play in this drive was a ten-yard quarterback sneak which moved the ball down to the Crimson four. Neither the center of the five-man line nor the secondary was able to stop Maloy effectively and quickly, a weakness which was evident on other occasions, and with other backs, all afternoon.
Crimson Defense Stiffens
The only time, in fact, that the Crimson battled on any sort of even terms was during the ten minutes immediately after the Crusader score. Then, while the teams scrimmaged ineffectually between the Harvard 20 and the 50, good defensive work by tackle John Nichols and end Don Case helped contain the Purple attack.
But even then the Crusaders seemed about to move. Captain Mel Massucco breaking loose for 25 yards to his own 42. Brian Reynolds' hard tackle jarred the ball-loose, and Art French recovered for the Crimson.
The following sequence produced no gains, and an out-of-bounds punt gave the Crusaders the ball on their own 23. On the very next play, fullback Bob Doyle fumbled; Nichols raced in to recover.
With the ball on the Holy Cross 22, Captain Carroll Lowenstein passed to wingback John Tulenko on the ten after a fine fake by end Fred Ravreby had loosened the defense. Tulenko, whose running was one of the best things in the Crimson attack, eluded the secondary and went on to score. Lowenstein's extra point try was partially blocked, leaving the score tied, and the Crusaders puzzled.
They started back immediately, however, and moved back from their own 20 all the way to the Harvard six as the period ended. Two plays later Massucco went across. Tackle John Feltch's conversion put the Crimson behind, 13 to 6.
Maloy almost personally engineered the next 72-yard touchdown drive five minutes later. His brilliant faking kept the Crimson lineman tackling the wrong backs, and his passing--to end Tom McCann--moved the ball consistently. Maloy later flipped a 22-yard scoring pass to McCann. Fullback Doyle finally ran 15 yards around left end for the score.
Three Crimson tacklers had shots at the Purple fullback; none was able to nail him. Indeed, the tackling ability of Coach Lloyd Jordan's team seemed to have retrogressed, after the impressive hard-hitting game against Springfield.
Another example of this fearful defensive lack popped up just ten seconds before the game ended, when the Crimson had apparently stopped an 82-yard Holy Cross drive on the two. Halfback Paul Gallo ran around left end and into two Harvard players, who not only failed to down him, but permitted him to slip away and score standing up.
After one incompleted pass, Lowenstein threw another, also incomplete, to end Paul Crowley on the 24. Safety man Mike Zinkiewicz had climbed Crowley's back, moving the officials to call the pass complete for interference and to award the Crimson a first-down.
But Lowenstein, who completed but two passes in 19 tries, was unable to hit a receiver, and the Cross again took over.
The weakness of the passing game hurt the Crimson. Fullbacks John Culver and Tom Ossman did most of the running, and ran well; Ossman was particularly effective on a fake pitchout play with which he gained good yardage during the second half. But the total passing gain was a paltry 21 yards.
Jordan was not enthusiastic after the game.
"We're a little weaker now than we were last year," he admitted. "We're going with a lot of sophomores who are hustling well; but they're very green yet."
Reynolds--a defensive halfback--and rookie linebacker Jeff Coolidge are examples of this aggressive inexperience, which apparently will be the Crimson's lot until the newcomers acquire game polish.