The football season could hardly have started more sweetly. Amid predictions of a winning season, the varsity took its cue and convincingly downed the University of Massachusetts, 36 to 22, at Soldiers Field Saturday.
The first two teams showed a steady running attack for three periods, building up a 36-0 lead. Then the substitutes got some badly needed experience against a team that last week staged a dramatic, second-half rally.
Coach John Yovicsin aptly summed up his feelings when he said "for a first ball game, our first two groups did as well as we expected." Charlie Ravenel sparked his team by producing the spectacular play at just the right moment--an opening 11-yard quarterback sneak, a pass to halfback Albie Cullen which set up the first touchdown, and an option play again to Cullen to set up the second score.
Such key plays offset the mistakes any football team is bound to make in its first appearance, particularly this Crim- son eleven, so heavily laden with sophomores.
After employing a straight running attack for a while, Ravenel opened up the game with two passes--the first to Captain Hank Keohane (nullified by a penalty) and the second to Cullen who caught the ball on the run and didn't stop until the 3-yard line. Fullback Glenn Haughie cut through a hole at left guard and the onslaught had begun.
The Crimsons next score came early in the second frame following nine consecutive running plays, including the option lateral to Cullen. Twelve minutes later, the varsity tallied again, after a similar dramatic play at a key moment. With third down and 12 yards to go, Ravenel passed to sophomore end Bob Boyda for a 16-yard gain to the UMass 34-yd. line. Halfback Chet Boulris took a pitchout off right tackle for 20 yards; then right-halfback Larry Repsher raced 14 yards around left end to paydirt at 12:46.
UMass Comeback Recalled
When Yovicsin emerged from the dressing room at halftime, he obviously still remembered the Redmen's rally against Maine the week before, for he kept his first unit in through another touchdown. This one, bringing the score to 28 to 0, came with two Ravenel sneaks highlighting a pass-run march aided by a personal foul penalty.
With the game now over for practical purposes, the varsity, under sophomore quarterback Mike Adams broke through for still one more score. Again came the big play--Repsher's 27-yard run around left end, outrunning three would-be tacklers--only to be nullified by an offside penalty. But, five plays later, Adams passed 18 yards to Repsher for the final score.
The Massachusetts points all came in the fourth period through a combination of Crimson defensive inexperience and luck. Halfback Billy Reynolds was all alone when he nabbed the first touchdown pass in the varsity's end zone. But halfback Jim Hickman's touchdown came when he caught a pass deflected out of defenseman Bruce MacIntyre's hands. On this play, pass defense was strong with UMass simply getting a good break.
The Crimson victory came not without distressing signs, highest on the list being pass defense. Time and again UMass receivers got behind the Crimson defenders. A Redmen touchdown early in the second quarter was prevented only by a pass completion beyond the end zone, for halfback Hickman had gotten behind his defenders.
Another pass to Hickman just slipped through the latter's fingers as he ran downfield; he was well out of defense range. Further, UMass scored two PAT's on the same play--a pass pattern down the middle with the receiver completely clear.
More important, the Crimson can ill afford any lasting effects from the five injuries it suffered. Best reports indicate that halfback Roy Williams, tackle Darwin Wile, Keohane, and guard Bill Swinford will dress this Saturday for Bucknell.
Fourth-string tackle Ken Brown is probably out for the season with torn knee ligaments, cutting more into the sparse tackle setup, where Bob Pillsbury missed action in the opener.