Gridders Nip Huskies Despite Poor Showing
Harvard outlasted Northeastern 17-7, in a battle of sluggish offenses Saturday afternoon in the Stadium to give Joe Restic his first victory as a Crimson coach.
Northeastern never ran a play from inside the Crimson 29-yard line. Yet the lackluster Harvard attack managed to keep the game close until Rich Gatto's seven-yard run off tackle gave the Crimson its final points with only 1:45 left in the fourth quarter.
Harvard had great field position all day, but failed to put the final touches on several drives deep into Northeastern territory. Three interceptions in the first half nullified Crimson scoring opportunities set up by an adequate running game and numerous Northeastern errors.
The Crimson's first break came eight minutes into the game when the Huskies' Al Mello got off a bad punt which left Harvard at the Northeastern 40-yard line. Four running plays later, with the ball resting on the Huskies' seven, quarterback Rod Foster rolled right and hit Northeastern's Tom Rezziti in the end-zone for a touchback.
Six plays after that, Crimson defensive end Mike McHugh picked off a Northeastern pass at the Huskies' 35. Fine rushing by Gatto and sophomore Nick Leone took the ball to the Northeastern four-yard line.
But once again the drive stalled and Bruce Teterick kicked a field goal to put the Crimson on top, 3-0.
Harvard's defense kept the Huskies bottled up in bad field position until Foster threw another interception, this one at the Crimson 37-yard line.
On Northeastern's first play from scrimmage, halfback Wally Quigg broke off left tackle, slid to the left sideline, and rambled on into the endzone. The extra point completed Northeastern's scoring for the day with seven minutes left in the half.
Harvard took the kickoff at its own 37-yard line and put together its only sustained scoring drive. The Crimson looked sharp, as Gatto and Leone ran off-tackle and around the ends in the 63-yard, 15-play drive. foster threw one of his two first-half completions to end Denis Sullivan in the endzone to put the Crimson on top to stay, 10-7, with seconds left in the half.
The last half of the game was a sparring match between the Crimson defense and an inept Northeastern offensive squad.
The Huskies started the third period in good field position, but a bad snap from center on a punt left Harvard knocking on the door again. However, once more the offense failed to put points on the board, stopped on a fourth-and-one situation at the Northeastern 21.
A series of punting exchanges followed, with neither team able to mount a substantial attack. Two late-game interceptions off desperate Husky quarterback Phil Raby allowed the Crimson to edge closer to the goal line and set up Gatto's final run.
While the Crimson offense was failing to come up with the big plays, the defense improved greatly over its performance in the Holy Cross game. The secondary picked off four errant Husky passes and allowed Northeastern only nine completions.
Improvement--Slowly but Surely
However, it was the defensive line which looked most impressive. Granted, the Huskies' backs were nothing to compare with the Ivy talent to be faced later. But the Harvard line could feel satisfied that it held Northeastern to less than two yards per carry. The holes in the Crimson line that were so wide against Holy Cross were much smaller Saturday.