PRINCETON, N.J.--The Daily Princetonian has billed it as "a battle for the Ivy League cellar." Students around the campus here yesterday were calling it "the game." But for Harvard, it's simply the second in a series of five "must-win" games en route to a possible Ivy Championship.
The Crimson (3-2, 1-2 Ivy) take on the Tigers (1-3-1, 0-2-1 Ivy) at Palmer Stadium at 1:30 this afternoon, in a game both squads need to win if they are to salvage something of the 1978 season.
"I still feel that we are in the middle of the Ivy League title race," Crimson coach Joe Restic said this week. "Traditionally, we have always played better on the road with the exception of Princeton. I'm concerned this week because we never really seem to put it together down here."
The Tigers, coming off their first win of the year (13-12 over Colgate), have had their best mid-season week of practice this week.
"We've had a pretty good attitude, just because we finally won a game," center Andy Stephens said last night. "Everyone was pretty pysched at practice today, and believe me, we've had some pretty gloomy Friday practices before," Stephens added.
The Tiger offense, working out of first-year coach Frank Navarro's veerformation, has sprung to life the last two Saturdays under new quarterback Steve Reynolds.
Reynolds guided the new-look offense against the Red Raiders by rushing for 56 yards and going 7-for-13 through the air.
The offensive ringmaster for the Tigers has been "The Penn Yan Express," sophmore tailback Cris Crissy (Penn Yan, N.Y.). Crissy danced past Colgate last week for 136 years on 29 rushes, 41 yards on two pass catches, and one 49-yd. kickoff return.
Harvard's offense strutted its stuff last week as well, awaking from a first-half trance to stick it to Dartmouth with three touchdowns in the final 30 minutes. Speedmeister Ralph Polillio continues to be the main ball-carrier, racking up 95 yards against the Big Green to up his season total to 270.
Quarterback Larry Brown was last week's big story, though. The senior right-hander mixed his plays well in the second half, zipping the ball into his receivers' bellies the way he works the corner of the plate on a baseball diamond.
The story of today's game could well be told by the injury situation, however, A series of injuries over the last couple of weeks has left both squads' rosters looking like a Stillman infirmary patient list.
The Tigers have lost three star players for the season due to serious leg injuries--defensive tackle Joe Lundic, linebacker Bob Ehrlich, and flanker Vince Battaglia, the last coming on a freak play during Tuesday's practice.
For the Crimson, the defensive injury list runs almost into double digits: linebackers Matt Sabetti and Craig Beling, tackles Bub Murrary and Rim Palmer, cornerback Steve Potysman and middle guard Tom McDevitt all have nagging injuries that could keep them out. On offense, scrappy center Dave Sheper remains questionable.
Injuries notwithstanding, the kickoff will take place at alumni-filled Palmer Stadium at 1:30 today. And about two hours after that, one squad will leave the field with a lock on the Ivy cellar, the other with an outside shot at the league crown.