When a football team is penalized more than 100 yards in a game, it is not supposed to escape with a victory. But Brown's junior varsity gridders violated the laws of poetic justice at yesterday's home contest as they outlasted the Crimson, 23-18, despite suffering 13 penalties for a loss of 144 yards.
The Bruins took advantage of several Crimson errors and an impotent Harvard offense in the first half to take a 13-0 lead at intermission.
After the ball had changed hands several times in the opening period, the Bruins got their first scoring opportunity when Brown defender Mike Sherman snagged at midfield a misdirected aerial from Crimson quarterback Steve O'Brien.
Six plays later, Bruin quarterback John Anderson hit tight end Mike Prairie in the end zone on a nine-yard scoring strike. The conversion kick was good, and Brown led, 7-0, with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter.
The second quarter was frustrating for the Crimson, as the offense could not get untracked. The Harvard eleven was repeatedly stymied on third down conversions, and was forced to punt the ball away.
Brown's performance was nearly as unimpressive for most of the period, but in the waning minutes Anderson dropped a flare to Bruin halfback Jan Zlotnick, and the speedy back ran the ball in from 11 yards out for the second Bruin tally. The conversion kick was blocked, and the Crimson trailed by 13 as the half ended.
Whatever coach Paul McGuire told his troops between the periods was well taken as the Crimson turned aggressor and its offense came alive.
Following the Brown kickoff to open the second half, Crimson O'Brien marched his troops 70 yards for a touchdown that was capped by halfback John Balko's six-yard scoring plunge. The conversion attempt was blocked, but the Crimson was back in the game, down 13-6.
The Harvard defense was now inspired and refused to surrender yardage to the Brown squad. The Crimson offense took command once again and the momentum had clearly swung in Harvard's favor. O'Brien, who splits the Crimson quarter-backing chores with Doug Gordon, reentered the game and directed the squad inside Brown territory.
Then the comeback fell apart.
Deep inside Brown territory, the Harvard backfield turned a simple handoff into a broken play, which resulted in a Harvard fumble and a recovery by Brown.
The Bruins' offensive unit jelled and Brown was very successful with its outside running game. The Harvard secondary had trouble defending against Anderson's drop-back as the Bruins marched deep inside Harvard territory.
Brown's Doug Baran plunged over the goal line a few plays later, and with the conversion kick the Bruins led, 20-6. The time-consuming drive ate up the latter part of the third period, and the Crimson had its work cut out with one quarter remaining to overcome the 14-point deficit.
After Brown's kick-off, Harvard got the ball on its own 25 yardline. Brown's defense was impregnable and the Crimson backs could not make a dent. Forced to pass on third and long yardage, O'Brien set up in the pocket and looked in vain for a open Crimson receiver.