WEST POINT, N.Y.--Harvard earned new respect for itself and for the entire Ivy League Saturday when the 12-point underdog gridders thoroughly dominated and defeated Army, 15-10, before 38,479 fans at Michie Stadium.
In addition to the significance of defeating an opponent that had knocked off Pac-10 power California earlier this season, the victory raised Harvard's record to a perfect 3-0 and extends the team's winning streak to five, its longest since 1975-76.
Exultation over the triumph diminished, however, when quarterback Brian Buckley, who scored both Harvard touchdowns in his best performance of the year, injured his knee in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Buckley said yesterday he would "definitely" not play in next Saturday's home game against Cornell because of "definite cartilage damage." He said an examination by team doctor Arthur Boland indicated that there was no ligament damage, but the possibility of surgery could not be ruled out until doctors performed more tests.
Getting the Breaks
Buckley led Harvard to the victory by capitalizing on the breaks created by the Crimson defense, which played its best game in two seasons. A previously unheralded secondary grabbed four interceptions, forced tow fumble turnovers and held off a desperate Cadet charge in the final seconds that could have given Army the victory.
With 1:38 remaining, the Cadets had the ball 53 yards away from a winning touchdown. But the Harvard pass defense--which had proved almost disastrous in previous clutch situations--kept the Army receivers inbounds, the clock going, and finally stopped the Cadets on fourth and six at the Crimson 25.
The game conclusion reflected the way the Harvard defense--although it didn't dominate the contest--stiffened in every clutch situation. Specifically, junior Rocky Delgadillo limited the Cadets' highly touted wide receiver Mike Fahenstock to only three catches--just one more than the California defensive back.
Twice in crucial situations, Delgadillo stopped Army drives with interceptions. The first time, late in the first quarter, he stepped in front of Fahnestock on the right sideline and appeared to tiptoe 59 yards for a touchdown. However, the referees ruled that Degadillo had stepped out of bounds just after he caught the ball.
The defensive back made his second pickoff early in the third quarter, when he shadowed Fahnestock perfectly on a long post pattern to the Harvard goal line. Army quarterback Jerryl Bennett, under heavy pressure at the Harvard 31, slightly underthrew Fahnestock and Delgadillo leapt up and grabbed the potential touchdown away.
The interception was sandwiched between two Harvard scoring drives in what was undoubtedly the Crimson's best quarter of football of the year.
Leading 3-0 after a half of hard hitting but also of limited effectiveness by either team, Harvard held the Cadets on three plays and forced a punt after the second-half kickoff. Buckley took over at the Harvard 30, and on the second play of the drive rolled left on an option play that served the team superbly all afternoon.
Buckley froze the Army linebackers and left end with the fake to go up the middle; he then darted around left end. Split end Ron Cuccia threw a perfect block at defensive back Jeff Cook, and Buckley was gone--for a 67 yd. touchdown run and a 9-0 Harvard lead. Dave Cody missed the extra point.
After Delgadillo's second interception, Buckley came right back and engineered a methodical ten-play, 94-yd. drive. Buckley's quick pass over the middle to halfback Paul Scheper for 30 yards on a crucial third-and-two play gave the Crimson the ball on the Army 11 and set up Buckley's one-yd. quarterback sneak that put Harvard ahead, 15-0, with the third quarter exactly half over. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
Army's Garry Rolle returned the kickoff 64 yards to the Harvard 30, and the Crimson defense spent the rest of the game hanging on. A Mike Jacobs interception and a Dave Otto fumble recovery stopped a pair of Army drives, but the Harvard offense had stalled as well.
Harvard's one chance to score evaporated when Buckley was sacked for a devastating 13-yd. loss from the Army 16 to the 29, and coach Joe Restic transferred to an eat-up-the-clock mode, when junior Mike Buchanan replaced Buckley for the Crimson's final two series.
THE NOTEBOOK: Restic said that just because Buchanan replaced Buckley at the end of the game he won't necessarily start against Cornell Saturday. Restic is sure to give Cuccia a long look... Penalties plagued the Crimson again. The refs nailed Harvard for 96 yards worth, including several questionable calls that might have indicated an unfamiliarity with the multiflex rather than a vigilence for the rules. The situation neared absurdity at the end of the first half, when penalties put the Crimson in a third-and-46 situation. And Army declined a penalty that would have made it third-and-51.