NEW HAVEN--One second, we had a ball game. Yale led early in the final quarter, 10-7, but had to punt from inside its own territory on third and 25. Seconds later, the game and the Ivy League season were as good as over, as punter Mike Sullivan ran past the stunned Harvard rushers and dashed 66 yards for the clinching touchdown.
With that, the visitors started to gamble, and started to make mistakes, and the powerful Yale eleven turned the game into a laugh, 24-7.
The game certainly started badly for the Crimson. After Harvard stopped Yale on the Eli's initial possession, Ralph Polillio fumbled the punt amid three foes, but Harvard somehow managed to come up with the loose ball.
Quarterback Larry Brown was promptly sacked back at his own five. A long Jim Curry punt got Harvard out of the hole, and then the mistakes started to come fast and furious. Yale fumbled the ball over to the visitors, who quickly fumbled it back.
Then the league-leaders started to settle down. A successful caper by signal-caller Bob Rizzo, and a short burst into line gave Yale a first down at mid-field. Six powerful runs later, it was first and ten at the Crimson 12-yard line.
With their backs to the wall, however, the Cambridge defenders gave ground grudgingly, and Yale had to settle for a short field goal by Dave Schwartz and an early three-nothing lead.
Polillio got the Crimson going. His 32-yard kick return gave the team good field position, and his darting third-down run gave Harvard a third down just inside Yale territory. Chris Doherty bowled his way up the middle on third and short three plays later to give the visitors their second first down. Then, Brown hit Paul Sablock on back to back passes for the 36 yards and the touchdown.
The quarter ended between the two plays, so Harvard led early in the second stanza, 7-3.
Fired up by that score, the Harvard defense shut down the Bulldogs on their next possession. On the Crimson's first play after the Eli punt, Brown hit Curry perfectly 40 yards downfield, but the senior end could not handle the over-the-shoulder catch.
Harvard's drive stalled, despite the fact that Brown was getting to pass behind superb protection. After the team traded points--the Crimson defense handled the Yale offense with ease this time--Harvard took over at its own 36.
After Curry missed making a beautiful diving pass on another bomb, he got off a weak 13-yard punt. Eli star John Pagliaro, the nation's leading scorer, broke into the open on a run and gave Yale a first down inside the Crimson 35.
Pagliaro and running mate Rick Angelone ground it out from there, the latter barrelling over from four yards out with 4:16 left in the half to give the league leaders a 10-7 advantage. By then, Pagliaro had already gained 78 yards, to set a Yale season record with 1065, becoming the first Eli ever to go over 1000 twice.
Joe Restic's charges went to work quickly to start the second half. Bobby Kinchen returned the kick to the 40, and three plays later Brown hit Sablock again for 17 yards to the Yale 36-yard line. Then, the Crimson pass blocking broke down as it had early in the game. The Harvard signal-caller was dropped for a big loss, and the visitors had to punt.
The Bulldogs looked sharp, driving to near midfield, but they too hit a snag when Tom Masterson picked off a Rizzo pass. On their next possession, after they had once more forced Harvard to punt by sacking Brown, the Elis drove crisply to the Crimson 20 before a holding penalty short-circuited the foray.
For the rest of the quarter, the teams slugged it out without a score. Harvard's defense bent badly, but refused to break, while Yale's stingy defenders wouldn't give Brown and company an inch. At one point, Harvard failed to move after recovering an Eli fumble at midfield.
Then, with 11 minutes left to play, after two straight sacks by Bob Baggott had apparently forced Yale to punt on third and long from its own 34, punter Mike Sullivan sped around end and followed beautiful blocking 66 yards for the touchdown. The Elis had an undisputed title firmly in hand, 17-7.
Harvard had to start throwing in desperation, and the Bulldogs just sat back and waited for a misfire. They got it, and turned the interception into a time-consuming touchdown drive that gave them a 24-7 bulge with less than four minutes left to play.
The visitors made one last bid after that, but when Kinchen fumbled Brian Buckley's pitch into the endzone and Yale recovered, even the most optimistic of Cantabrigians had to admit that the game was over. Pagliaro finished with 171 yards.