Flanders Fields

The dream recurs; plaguing the True Fan with visions of another championship lurking in the ivy at Soldiers. After Cornell, Columbia, and Dartmouth, there are no nightmares, no collapsing pocket and no sacked Kubacki, no slippery hands for Curry or McDermott, no successful bombs over Judge and Emper. It is a vision of the Big Play in the Yale Bowl.

The dream starts in Philadelphia:

Friday, October 31-- Quarterback Bob Graustein wakes up to discover he has turned into a giant bug. Or at least that's what he tells his frightened roommate. Graustein is put under observation for fear he will try to fly.

Saturday, November 1-- Without their stellar quarterback, Penn collapses in a paroxysm of blocked punts, interceptions, and fumbles. Disguised as Mayor Frank Rizzo and hobbling on crutches, a Penn student attempts to steal the Harvard band's drum, but is discovered and soundly trounced. Graustein, meanwhile, has claimed he was drugged. Harvard, 27-7.

Thursday, November 6--New Jersey state police stumble upon a suspicious couple in a Quality Inn near Princeton on Route One. Breaking into the dimlylit room they uncover a cache of chains, whips, and football tees. Discovered at the scene are Ron Beible, a senior quarterback for Princeton, and an unidentified female, rumored to be Princess Caroline of Monaco. No charges are filed, but Beible (rhymes with libel), a Baptist planning to attend Divinity School, calls a press conference and announces that under such circumstances he can't play.

"I'm so ashamed," a tearful Beible tells reporters." But the whips and chains were planted. This is a frame." In Monaco, a spokesman for Prince Rainier categorically denies news reports. "Movie stars, yes," he says, "football stars, no."

Saturday, Nov. 8--Before the game starts in Cambridge, enraged Tiger fans tear down the goalposts. The Crimson roars off to a three-touchdown lead anyway as Kubacki runs for 100 yards and passes for another 100 to Curry, Saxon and Winn. A desperate Princeton turns to the Statue of Liberty play for their only touchdown. Disguised as Bruce Springsteen, a Princeton student tries to damage the drum and is badly manhandled. Harvard, 21-7.

Wednesday, November 12--Bob Bateman, Brown's quarterback/transfer from Vermont, scoffs in his thick Yankee accent at any suggestion he is next in line for what sportswriters have dubbed as "The Crimson Quarterback Curse."

Saturday, November 15--Bateman puts on an offensive display for Brown, including a triple flea-flicker culminating in a touchdown. Waving at the fans, Bateman trots to the locker room and a discouraged Harvard team follows, behind at the half, 14-0.

But H.D. Dixon '47 a hard-drinking Texan who has flown from El Paso for the game remains puzzled: he is convinced he has seen Bateman before, playing under a different name for either UTEP or Paul Quinn College in Waco.

A frantic phone call reveals that Dixon is right--a quarterback named Bateson with the physical characteristics of Bateman had starred for UTEP.

Confronted with the facts, Bateman breaks down and confesses. "I'm glad the charade is over," he says, a soft drawl replacing his assumed New England accent. "I knew the transfers from UTEP to Vermont to Brown were too easy. "Rather than take the forfeit, Harvard votes to play the second half and fired by Bateman's absence, puts together a dazzling comeback. With 00:22 on the clock Mike Lynch connects for the winning field goal from inside the 25-yard line. An undisguised Brown student attempts to run into the drum, but misses. Harvard, 17-14.

Monday, November 17--Vowing to take no chances, Yale President Kingman Brewster declares, "The curse will not strike in New Haven," and places quarterback Stone Phillips under house arrest. "He's better protected than Bobby Seale," Brewster brags to his friends.

Friday, November 22--Disaster strikes, inevitably. Phillips, after taking a shower, trips and sprains his ankle on a copy of the Cantos of Ezra Pound, reported missing the night before from the reserve desk at Lamont Library.

Saturday, November 23--The Yale Bowl is a mass of seething partisan fans. In the first half, neither team can score, Harvard flustered by a vengeful Yale defense convinced Phillips's injury is part of a plot. Finally, late in the fourth quarter, Neal Miller carries the ball to Yale's 30-yard line. Two passes fail and Lynch successfully kicks a field goal. The defense holds, and with time running out for Harvard, fair catches a punt on its own 3-yard line. On the last play Kubacki drops back into the end zone to pass, eludes several Yale tacklers, and calmly steps out of the end zone as the gun sounds. William F. Buckley, disguised as a Vassar coed, vainly tries to kick the drum. He is discovered and politely escorted to his car. Harvard, 3-2.