Four of the five games the unpredictable Harvard football team has played this year have been upsets. Only two have been wins.
And after each victory, a Crimson backfield man has been named Ivy Back of the Week.
This week honors have gone to halfback Billy Taylor, hero of Saturday's 21-15 victory over Dartmouth, who scored two TD's, led the Crimson rushing attack with 74 yards in 15 attempts for a five yard average, and--probably most important--ran for three crucial first downs in the agonizing "whatever-you-do-don't-lose-the-ball" drive in the final six minutes after Dartmouth's second TD.
One month ago, after he received a minor concussion in an early-season scrimmage, it looked like the 196-pound junior from Crookston, Minn., was through for the year.
But in no time he fought his way back to distinguish himself as one of the strongest and most reliable halfbacks in the Ivy League.
Taylor halls from Crookston's Central High School, where he won all-state football honors, captained four sports, and graduated as valedictorian of his class. A dean's list chemistry student at the College, he has been nominated for election to the all-Ivy scholastic team.
Taylor thus joins Crimson teammate Ted Halaby, who earned Ivy Back of the Week honors after his outstanding performance in the 14-0 upset victory over Cornell in the second game. Only one other team--Columbia--has had two winners of the award. (Russ Warren and Al Butts; Penn's Pete McCarthy was IBW last week.)
Quarterback Halaby, who is still indisposed with his slow-healing leg injury, will probably sit out again this week. That means sophomore Mike Bassett will continue at the reins against Penn in Philadelphia this Saturday.
Bassett did not-behave as a sophomore Saturday, but rather as a highly-experienced varsity quarterback. He engineered the team well, making practically no technical or tactical errors on offense, leading running plays and throwing effective blocks, and completing two out of three passes to Captain Pete Hart for 18 yards.
He heads up what may be called--to choke a little pun at something--a "fullbackfield." Behind Bassett is fullback Bill Grana, flanked by Chuck Reed and Taylor, who perform more like fullbacks than halfbacks. Grana, Taylor, and Reed--a converted fullback--are all powerful.
Penn, Harvard's imminent foe, may be credited with a 2-3 record--1-2 in Ivy competition--and with an unimpressive 20-6 loss to undefeated Rutgers Saturday. But let us not laugh.
The Quakers are due for a quick recovery from some early-season injuries and losses. (The biggest blow was the early loss of the heart of their attack, tailback Porter Shreve, followed by the injury of speedy John Owens, who stepped in for Shreve--and did a praiseworthy job while he was functioning.)
Crimson scouts report that Penn, in its second year of single wing, has adjusted to fit its personnel--including four returning starters from last year--and will be a greater threat than comparative Dartmouth scores would indicate. (Coach John Stiegman's team lost to the Indians 30 to 0.)
Saturday was a peculiar day for the Ivies--that is, a regular day. Four teams-Yale, Columbia, Penn, and Brown- lost non Ivy-games, and Princeton remained undefeated (30-25 over Cornell).
That leaves Princeton in first place in the Ivy League with a 3-0 record, Columbia in second with 3-1, and Dartmouth-Yale-Harvard in a three-way tie for third with 2-1. Then it's Penn (1-2), Cornell (0-3), and last and certainly least, Brown (0-4).
Meanwhile, highlight of the week: the cross country team, aiming for an undefeated season, meets Yale and Princeton in a home meet Friday. The Crimson is out to win its first triangular cross country championship since 1957.