The Harvard athletic department spent months and millions of dollars preparing its dilapidated 30-year-old stadium for the 99th playing of The Game, but it took a group of students less than 10 minutes to tear the place apart again.
The recently installed concrete seats remained intact, but with 48 seconds still remaining on the game clock, the goalpost at the open end of the field had been pulled to the ground, and 37 seconds later, the other set of uprights was no longer standing.
Normally, a 45-7 blowout wouldn't prompt this sort of reaction, but for the Crimson partisans in the crowd of 40,000, and the Harvard players themselves, this game represented a piece of history and a little bit of vindication.
The Crimson put more points on the board Saturday afternoon than any Harvard team had ever totaled against Yale, and in the process, made up for two straight scoreless meetings with the Elis and for last week's 23-21 loss to Penn.
"It's really not like Coach [Joe] Restic to run up a score that way, and against most teams, we wouldn't have done it. But because of the last two years against Yale and also because of last week, it was important that we could keep sticking it to them, and so he let us do it all," said tight end Peter Quartararo, who scored the Crimson's second and deciding touchdown.
"Our goal was to score 42 points on them, because that's how much they scored against us in the last two years, and we even surpassed that," said split end John O'Brien.
Harvard had already buried the Elis, 38-7, by the end of the third quarter, and Restic shuttled reserve players in and out for the final 15 minutes And even then, Yale couldn't stop the Crimson attack. After Harvard quarterback Don Allard departed, his back-up Ron Cuccia guided Harvard's final scoring drive of The Game and the season, and the Crimson had its record-breaking 45 points and its first win over the Elis at home since 1974 sewn up with nine minutes to play.
When the clock finally ran out, the celebration had already started on the field. It took most of the players a while to weave their way through the mob and they found an equally raucous crowd when they reached the locker room.
Music blared while the victors doused one another with champagne. The Los Angeles Dodgers' former first baseman. Steve Garvey, who came to The Game with his agent. Harvard glad Jerry Kapsteim, after negotiating with Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner in New York, stood at the center of the locker room having his picture taken with Crimson wingback Jim Garvey. Somebody tossed Garvey (Steve, not Jim) a jersey with the wingback's No.33 on it, and the one-time National League MVP held it up during the snapshot session. But for the most part, Garvey, the man who could ask and receive as much as a million and a half dollars a year from owners like Steinbrenner, was ignored in the raucous Harvard locker room.
It was Allard who commanded most of the attention in the room. While a television crew tried to talk with the Harvard QB, his teammates chanted, "D.A., D.A.," so loudly that the interview had to be delayed. The team finally filed out of the Dillon Field House an hour and a half after The Game ended, but the season and the celebrations still weren't finished, because four hours after the Harvard goalposts fell, the league-leading Penn Quakers did the same.
The Quakers' 23-0 loss to Cornell in Ithaca put the Crimson in a three-way tie--with Dartmouth and Penn--for the 1982 Ivy League championship. ABC was supposed to carry the Quakers' match-up with Cornell on its four o'clock broadcast, and a large portion of the Harvard faithful intended to tune in. But for some reason, Channel 5 showed the SMU-Arkansas game instead, and for many, the outcome of the contest in Ithaca remained a mystery until late in the evening.
Senior running back Scott McCabe, however, managed to see some of the game on Channel 6.
"There was no sound, and all you could see were shadow figures, but when they flashed the 23-0 score on the screen, I could see it perfectly. I couldn't believe it. When I was in high school, I was always on losing teams, but when I came here, I knew these guys were winners, and now we've proved it."
Most team members learned of the Quakers' loss and their title Saturday evening, but middle guard Scott Murrer didn't hear anything until he looked at the Sunday edition of the New York Times yesterday afternoon.
"I really didn't care about the outcome of that game I knew if Penn lost, we'd be in a three-way tie, but I didn't consider that a very significant achievement. There are only eight teams in the league and so a three way tie for first doesn't mean that much I was just happy we beat Yale," he said.
Junior linebacker Joe Azelby shared Murrer's sentiments to a degree. It was weird. I wasn't overjoyed. I felt good but not great. We can't really be disappointed because going to Saturday, we had nothing and all of a sudden we're Ivy champs. Still, there something missing Azelby said.
In a sense Azelby is right A number of people including Yale Coach Carm Cozza, are still convinced that Harvard had the best team in the Ivies, and a few think that the disputed Penn game should not have cost the Crimson an outright championship. But on Saturday afternoon, nothing was missing from Harvard's biggest win over Yale in 67 years.
"We knew we were champions after that game," Jim Garvey said. "And now everyone else knows it too."