WORCESTER--Everyone else left the Holy Cross locker room as soon as possible. Quarterback Peter Muldoon, who had thrown four interceptions to put his team's playoff hopes in peril, was out in a matter of minutes. So was the All-America candidate, tailback Andy Clivio, who had rushed for just 18 yards.
Only the stunned members of the defensive line remained, each still in full uniform, sitting glumly in a row, their coach in the middle As one observer put it: "They look sort of like a Norman Rockwell painting." But that was in the locker room. On the field, the Crusaders' defensive front was no work of art.
The line that had held opposing teams to 139 yards rushing per game saw Harvard rack up 266 yards on the gorund. Fullback Mike Granger carried 14 times for 55 yards and a TD, and his back-up, Mike Ernst, totalled 33 late in the game, including a four-yard run into the end zone that gave Harvard the 24-17 win with only 19 seconds left.
But quarterback Don Allard can claim credit for most of the carnage.
The Crusders knew before the kickoff that Allard would be trouble. They had seen the films and read the stats--1136 yards passing for 11 TDs--and they were prepared to put on a tough pass rush. And they did. After the first 15 minutes of play, Allard had completed two passes to Holy Cross defenders and only one to his own receivers.
The Crusaders had all of Allard's numbers but one. In addition to his 11 touchdowns through the air, the Crimson QB had collected five on the run. And in the middle of the second quarter, he picked up his sixth.
It took all of 10 seconds. Harvard had just taken over at the Holy Cross 44, and on first down, Allard faked a reverse and then rolled left. Finding no one open, he took the ball himself and traveled 44 yards to the end zone for the Crimson's longest run from scrimmage this year and its first touchdown of the afternoon.
"I didn't think he was that good a runner," Holy Cross Coach Rich Carter said later. "In fact, I didn't really believe that Harvard could run the ball on us very well."
When it was over, Allard had outrushed the entire Holy Cross team--112 to 96--and had become the first Harvard player to go over 100 yards in a single game all season.
"We contained him at the ends, but he kept cutting back on us," Crusader defensive end Tom Haskins said. "They came out of a lot of unbalanced formations and ran on us really well. It just shouldn't have happened."
"We thought we would be able to pass against them," Allard said. "But when they saw us on film they must have said, 'We better hold back and make them run the ball.'"
"They did their job and flushed me out of the pocket, but we were blocking rally well and I was able to run. [Wingback] Jimmy Garvey must have thrown 100 blocks for us," he added.
When Allard wasn't catching the Crusaders off guard on keepers, some perfectly executed inside reverses to wingbacks Steven Ernst and Garvey did substantial damage.
"That [the reverse] was our little counter to keep them honest," Allard said. "We just set them up by going to the strong side and then when we went to the weak side to break the flow, we got two clutch runs for first downs."
Add to that Granger's and Mike Ernst's efforts and you can see why it didn't matter that Holy Cross was the only team to see Allard play more than a down and not throw a TD pass.
Then consider that Allard's 150 yards passing brought Harvard's offensive totals to 416 yards, 150 more than any other Holy Cross opponent this year, and more than Harvard has collected this year, and you can understand why several Crusaders couldn't force themselves to leave the locker room.