Dartmouth was a real pressure game for Harvard. And the prevailing question circulating in Cambridge was could the Crimson come off an emotionally and physically draining victory over Cornell to defeat a sub-par version of a Dartmouth team they had not beaten in five years. Jimmy the Greek thought they could. Boston bookies thought they could. So much for the oddsmakers. Dartmouth humbled Harvard, 24-18.
Somewhere between the time Harvard was installed as a 13-point favorite and the time the Crimson was handed a trouncing by the Big Green, something went wrong.
Crimson head coach Joe Restic had little to say after Saturday's loss. "They got the jump on us with that quarterback option and then we couldn't stop them," he said. He told reporters that the team was flat from the Cornell victory.
Harvard's flatness was particularly apparent in the first half. Quarterback Jimmy Stoeckel directed the Crimson offense for 43 total yards, 39 of which came on 21 ground attempts. This dismal first-half showing was matched only by the disappointing performance of Harvard's heralded defense. The defense allowed Dartmouth to roll up 205 yards on offense and 24 points.
Dartmouth's ability to work the option stymied Harvard's defense. Despite the fact that Harvard worked on the option in practice, the Crimson was pathetic defensing against it Saturday. On paper Harvard had Dartmouth outclassed: On the field, when the pressure was on, something gave way and the Crimson tumbled to defeat.
In the second half, Stoeckel showed flashes of the brilliance that had led Harvard to four previous victories. He narrowed the score to 24-10 with only three minutes gone in the second half, and then disaster struck again and again, and again.
Stopped Three Times
Incredibly, Harvard was stopped on Dartmouth's 3, 13, and 3 yard lines. The offense gained 268 yards in the second half, but failed to pick up three yards when it counted.
Harvard may bounce back. If the Crimson does not, armchair quarterbacks will point to the Dartmouth game as the beginning of the end for the Crimson's drive to the Ivy title.