The better team won.
Realization of that fact was the most heartening result of the varsity's fine 26 to 19 victory over Dartmouth in the Stadium Saturday before 31,000--largest crowd since 1950.
Harvard won because it deserved to win, because it outfought the Indians, and outclassed them in every department except pass defense.
The vaunted Crimson running attack ground out 220 yards, with three men--John Culver, Dick Clasby, and John Ederer--doing all the carrying. And the passing game, supposedly a weak point in the offense, clicked for two touchdowns, both on Clasby-to-Ederer passes.
Crimson Starts Late
It took the Crimson some time to gain full control, however. In fact, Harvard had to come from behind twice to tie the score, then eventually opening up a 26 to 13 gap early in the fourth quarter which Dartmouth narrowed but could not close.
Dartmouth Moves on Passes
The forward pass, a season-long nemesis, threatened to trouble the Crimson again. A scant four-and-one-half minutes after the kickoff, Dartmouth's Jim Miller had pitched the Indians to a 6 to 0 lead on an eight-play, 71 yard "flight," with end Dave McLaughlin catching the final pass over the goal line.
Another passing barrage was propelling the Indians forward later in the period. From the Crimson 25, Miller tossed a fourth-down screen pass to fullback John Springer. Crimson halfback Brian Reynolds fought off a downfield block by guard Alex Athanas and made a fine tackle to save a touchdown.
But, the officials ruled, Athanas--an ineligible receiver--had no right to be downfield anyway. The whole play was nullified, and the Crimson took over.
"That play was the game's turning point," Dartmouth Coach Tuss McLaughry said later.
This remark, though, gives the Crimson less credit than it deserves. The strong Harvard running game--helped by exceptional blocking and the ability of the defense to stand when it really had to--these were the truly decisive factors.
Not only did Clasby pass for two touchdowns, but he ran for one as well. This second-period tally ended a short march after the Crimson had taken the ball on the Dartmouth 33, thanks to a messed-up Dartmouth punt attempt.
All in all, Clasby gained 103 yards in 32 tries. And he averaged 32 yards on four punts. The wind helped him on some of these, but Dartmouth had this gusty advantage too--and didn't do nearly as well.
Ederer enjoyed his first exceptional game of the year, averaging 4.3 yards in 12 tries, most of them on effective inside reverse plays. The amazing part of this exhibition was that Ederer's bad ankle had kept him out of scrimmage all week and the doctors were not sure how much he would be able to play Saturday. (No incapacitating injuries, incidentally, resulted from the contest.)
A Clean Game
Although this was, as expected, a ruggedly-played ball game, it never threatened to get out of hand. Penalties to both teams, in fact, totalled a meagre 50 yards.
The clinching touchdown--at 0:38 of the last period--resulted from a one-yard leap by Culver to climax a drive from midfield. The muscular fullback gained 65 yards in 15 plays, and earned the opposition's praise and respect while doing so:
"He certainly changes his direction well." McLaughry noted. "Remarkably well for a big man."
After Culver's score, a series of alternate fumbles gave Dartmouth the ball on its own 38. Miller's passing took the Indians to the Harvard one. With the Crimson line packed to stop a plunge, halfback Russ Smale--a good worker all day-swept wide for the score with two-and-a-half minutes left.
Hank Fry's attempted conversion sailed wide, though, and the Crimson was virtually assured of a tie.
Indians Try Recovery Play
Dartmouth essayed a bit of strategy on the ensuing kickoff. All kickoffs going more than ten yards are "free" balls--the kicking team can recover. The Green booted short, hoping to regain possession for one final drive. But the ball sailed straight at Crimson guard Art Pappas, who wisely smothered the pigskin and Dartmouth's hopes with it