Last Thursday, Columbia coach Bill Campbell labeled the Crimson's defense as "one of the strongest Harvard's ever had." Then on Saturday, his Lions a) made a liar out of their coach, b) scared the living daylights out of the Crimson, and c) unveiled a pair of running backs whose names might as well have been Csonka and Kiick for the resistance which they encountered form the Harvard defenders. But alas, the end result was familiar: Harvard 35, Columbia 30.
A Ford not a Lincoln
The Crimson deserved victory in this, its Ivy League opener, about as much as Gerald Ford deserves the presidency. Their defense was as bland and holey as an eighty-pound wheel of Kraft swiss, their offense devastating. But 15 minutes a football game does not make, and had not some higher power ordained that Columbia quarterback Mike Delaney should slip on fourth-and-two deep in Crimson territory with the Lions driving for the potential winning score late in the game, the celebration at Baker Field would still be going on this morning.
The game started off ominously enough for the Crimson, as Jim Kubacki, who had a pretty fair offensive day himself (he broke Jim Stoeckel's one-game total offense record), fumbled on the third snap from center. Eleven plays and forty-seven yards later, Delaney dove over from the one to give the Lions the lead.
Columbia had already scored as many points as it did in each of its first two contests, and less than five minutes had elapsed on the clock.
After an exchange of possessions, Kubacki hooked up with Jim Curry breaking free down the right sideline for a 62-yard touchdown pass which tied the score. Curry, returning to his split end position after an injury-induced vacation, caught the ball at the Columbia 33 and easily outraced two defenders to the endzone.
The second quarter was played on a seesaw, one which was pointing in Harvard's direction by half-time. After a Crimson roughing-the-kicker penalty had allowed the Lions a second chance and resulted in a Bob McKeon 29-yard field goal, Kubacki went wild, and produced 28 points to Columbia's seven.
First came a 71-yard drive in seven plays, culminating in a 17-yard Tommy Winn run over a gaping hole on the right side. The Lions came right back, as Doug "Larry Csonka" Jackson rumbled 16 yards for the first of his two scores.
After Jackson's tally, though, the Lions took a nap, and the game became temporarily onesided, a state of affairs that had been expected in the first place. A string of 21 successive Harvard points began when Kubacki kept the ball on the option from the Columbia eight, faked Lion defender Ken Gregory out of his shorts at the five, and trotted in for the score.
It soon became 28-17, after Winn scored for the second time in the half. His two-yard burst capped a six-play, 41-yard drive, made possible when the Crimson defense stopped Columbia cold for one of the few times during the afternoon.
Less than two minutes later, it was 35-17, as Kubacki threw to Bob McDermott standing wide open in the endzone for six yards and six points. This connection capped a tremendous first-half performance by the Crimson signalcaller, as he completed 10 of 13 passes before the intermission, including five to Curry for 91. All totaled, his 212 yards passing and 29 rushing would have been quite respectable totals at game's end, never mind halftime. Unfortunately, that's almost what they became.
For in the second half, Kubacki could complete one pass--one, that is, between the sidelines. He completed many warming up on the sidelines, where he stood during most of the half, along with the rest of the Harvard offense.
The Crimson defense, on the other hand was on the field for most of this period, vainly attempting to stop a rejuvenated Columbia offense that ran off 35 plays to just four by Harvard in the first 13 minutes or so of the third quarter. During that time, the Lions scored twice, as first Jackson and then Delaney found the endzone.
The former's tally ended a 70-yard drive bolstered by key 22- and 15-yard runs by Jay "Jim Kiick" Hickey, while the latter scored after Harvard's second costly roughing-the-kicker penalty had given the Lions life on the Crimson 30-yard line.
After Delaney's score, Bob Watson's ensuing kickoff evoked memories of a Hoyt Wilhelm knuckleball, as the pigskin spun off his foot about fifteen yards down the left sideline, took one weird bounce, and landed in the arms of a startled Phil Jenkins at Harvard's 37.
The Lions were halted on fourth down at the Crimson 19 this time, but after a mistake-filled opening few minutes of the final period, Columbia once again found itself with the ball and good field possession, and started to roll.
Three first downs brought the ball to the Crimson 20, and things became rather sticky for the hometown favorites. After three plays netted eight yards, the Lions lined up on Harvard's 12. Delaney took the fourth-down snap, and as he moved to his right, he slipped helplessly on the surface. In that instant, he all but kissed good-bye to the upset.
The Lions had one more opportunity to score in the final two minutes, but this time they were unable to do anything and Harvard had a rather Pyrrhic victory.
The Crimson had once again proven themselves to be error-prone, and their defense, especially the weak side, was completely baffled by the runs of Jackson and Hickey, who racked up 179 and 125 yards, respectively. Despite its brilliant showing in the second quarter, and the fact that Mike Lynch converted all five extra-point attempts (there is a kicking game, after all), the offense was completely stifled in the final half.
By game's end, Harvard had racked up 444 total yards, nine more than Columbia managed. The Lions had achieved their highest point production since they scored 31 against Dartmouth in 1971, and the most they had tallied against Harvard since a 35-0 whitewashing in 1951. And all this for a coach who doesn't even tell the truth. Now that's really a shame.