WORCESTER. Mass--The Harvard football team took little time off from the rigors of the Ivy League race Saturday afternoon to show some pride and today claim to a title that though unofficial provides nearly as much satisfaction as the Ivy League championship.
Saturday's convincing 24-17 crimping of the post-season playoff plans of Holy Cross before 20.681 wind-resistent fans and a regional television audience, removed any doubts about the quality of the Crimson football team, now 6-2 on the year.
"Our goal is the Ivy championship," said Crimson halfback Scott McCabe, who caught three passes for 8-1 yards. "But we wanted to show everyone we were for real," Which the Crimson did, by dominating Holy Cross in every aspect of the game. The scoreboard however, didn't show it until the final minute of play, when Harvard fullback Mike Ernst dove into the end zone from four yards out to clinch the victory.
Before that play, Holy Cross, 7-2 and with its only other loss outside the region, had been readily acknowledged as the best this side of Division 1-A Boston College. It is now Harvard that can claim the imaginary title of "New England Division I-AA champion."
"Harvard is probably as good a team as we've played this year so far," said Holy Cross Coach Rick Carter, a man whose football word is well-respected.
"There's a lot of pride in this team," said Harvard cornerback John Dailey, who had his third straight two-interception game-wining drive, "We were a title upset about the 10 point spread--it was ridiculous Everybody said we couldn't stop Andy Clivio [the Crusader fullback] but we're been doing it all year from [UMass tailback Garry] Pearson to whomever."
They did-it against Saturday, Clivio. with 885 yards rushing going into the game, was held to 19 on 13 carries by far his worst performance on the season. And Covington, the all-time rushing leader at The Cross picked up just 59 which meant that the Crusaders had their worst rushing day this year.
Here are a few of the other marks the Crimson set against the Purple most points scored by a visiting team at Fitton Field this season (24); most yards rushing against H.C. all year (266); most yards total offense against The Cross this season (416 compared to 276 for the Crusaders); and most interceptions against H.C quarterback Pete Muldoon (four) on his career.
Quaterback, Don Allan led the Harvard charge, running for 112 yards (Harvard's first 100 yards rushing day of the season, including a 44-yard TD run in the second quarter, and keeping the Holy Cross defence off balance for most of the afternoon, As for the Harvard defence, it was obviously its usual old outstanding self.
The way Harvard started but, you wouldn't have thought it possible that the Crimson would be hitting the Turnpike at 4 p.m with a win in its pocket. On the opening drive of the game, Harvard halfback Steve Ernst went off right tackle and coughed the ball up, Crusader defense end Steve Raquet recovered at the Harvard 24 and four plays later H.C quarter back Pete Muldoon swept seven yard around right end and across the goal-line for a 7-0 advantage only three minutes into the contest.
Harvard's next drive ended in a fumble, by fallback Mike Granger and Allard closed out be Crimson's other two possession of the first quarter throwing interceptions.
Lucky for Harvard, the defense continued to be unyeilding (H.C. had only 24 yard of total offense in the first quarter), and the Crimson went into the second stanza trailing by just the touchdown.
Finishing up a drive that started after the second interception of an Allard pass, Muldoom brought the Cross to within field goal hange, and after kicker Tohy Melink booted a 25-yard at 2:25 of the quarter the Crusaders led, 10-0.
Allard brought the Crimson back for a Jim Villanueva field goal on its next drive, and just getting those first few numbers up on the scoreboard to be the break Harvard needed.
In the next 1:50 the Crimson exploded for two touchdown and a two-point conversion to jump out to a 17-10 lead.
After a short Holy Cross punt, Harvard took over at the Crusuder 44. On the first play, Allard rolled left against the motion of flanker Jim Garvey, saw an opening down the field at the left hash mark and took off, cutting outside Crusader cornerback Bill McGovern at about the 20 and going all the way into the end zone. The drive: one play, 44 yards about 10 seconds. The score 10-9 after H.C.'s Jim Boyle blocked the PAT.
Harvard came right back again when Clivio fumbled on the Crusader' first play from scrimmage. Two plays later--a 12-yard. Allard scamper around left end and an eight yard TD drive by Granger--and Harvard had the lead. 15-10. with about seven minutes left before halftime. The Crimson went for two and Allard hit Garvey in the right side of the end zone to make it 17-10.
The third quarter was scoreless, but the Crusaders tied the game with six minutes left when Muldoon culminated a nine-play, 84-yard drive with a one-yard sneak for the TD. The extra point tied the game at 17.
Which is how it might have ended but for Dailey's interception ("Just a matter of being in the right place at the right time"--Dailey), giving Harvard the ball at the Crusader 45 with 1:45 left.
Allard worked a quick screen to Mike Ernst for 23 yards, and four plays later, with 19 seconds on the clock, it was Mike Ernst again, plunging into the end zone from four yards out to give Harvard the win.