As hard as it may be for Harvard fans to believe, the Crimson was not upset by little Tufts on Saturday. Instead, the well-balanced Jumbos, as poised in the second half as the most experienced Ivy League football team, soundly defeated a sluggish-looking Crimson eleven, 19 to 13.
There will be those who compare this latest loss with the one UMass handed the Crimson in 1954, 13 to 7, but on that day, an inspired squard caught a varsity team, more interested in the following week's game with Cornell, not concerned with some "push-overs" from Amherst, Mass.
Concentrated On Opener
Saturday, though, the Crimson was concerned about beating Tufts. Lloyd Jordan, remembering the embarrassment of 1954, had been orientating his squad toward this opener. At a pre-season press conference, Jordan said he was definitely concentrating on winning the opener, more than anything else.
But this Tufts eleven, perhaps the best in Jumbo history, would not be denied victory. After some visible nervousness, in the first half, the Jumbos settled down to good, hard football, fulfilling all the praise local writers had been heaping on them since September. In fact, there is a good chance that Tufts may achieve its first undefeated season since 1934, if it does not suffer too great a let-down.
Although things may now be looking very bright for Harry Arlanson, the same, unfortunately, cannot be said for Jordan. The unveiling of his new A-formation was not a complete success, and unless the team can show some rapid improvement, the weeks to come may be rather discouraging for Crimson fans.
The new offense, relying more on deception than the old single-wing did, was without much sparkle, except for a touchdown drive in the last period. The sudden switch in formations was especially rough on quarterbacks Matt Botsford and John Simourian who, understandably, lacked the finesse found in most Ivy quarterbacks.
What made their jobs even more difficult Saturday was that they were both being compared constantly to Ralph Thompson, Tufts' experienced T-formation signal caller. In comparison with these often awkward and undeceptive neophytes, Thompson was the picture of ease.
The 172-pould senior, a preview of quarterbacks yet to come from the opposition, consistently fooled the Crimson with his fake hand-offs, and his great play calling, especially in the third period.
With the score tied at 6-6, early in the period, Tufts had a fourth down and five to go on the H. 45 yard line. Every football convention calls for a punt in that situation, and Thompson lined up in a punt formation, but instead, he took the snap from center and fired a pass to fullback Normie Wright, free on the flat. He carried to the 25. Five plays later, Wright who was the spark in the Tufts attack, took a pitchout from Thompson on the four-yard line, and scored standing up.
That completely unexpected play seemed to take the life out of the Crimson attack. For it could not seem to move the ball in the period at all after that. At the end of the period, after a punt exchange, the Jumbos recovered a fumble on their own 35. Thompson took to the air again and completed another pass to Wright down to the H. 38, and two plays later, one to substitute back Dave Fox on the 18-yard line. Fox took it to the 14, where he was brought down as the period ended.
The Crimson held for a down, and then Thompson threw to Paul Abrahamian in the end zone, but the former Harvard man, juggled it out of the zone, making his catch illegal. On third down, Dave Wells held in check most of the day, cut around his left end on a pitch out play, and fooled two tacklers, going into the end zone for what seemed to be the clinching score. Lou Rigano's kick was good.
But suddenly, with a full period to go, the Crimson took fire. With Ron Eikenberry and Nat Dodge in at the halfbacks, and Botsford over the center, the varsity moved in 14 plays starting from its own 30, to score a touchdown.