PHILADELPHIA--The four Harvard sophomores who played at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field two years ago returned there Saturday as seniors, looking for an Ivy League football title--and revenge.
The last time Brian Bergstrom, Roger Caron, Barry Ford and Mark Vignali played in Philadelphia, a last second toughing the kicker call effectively negated 21 fourth-quarter Crimson points.
The Quakers got a second, successful field goal attempt, a 23-21 victory and a piece of the league crown.
The Harvard sophomores got a lesson in losing that even last year's 28-0 Crimson blowout couldn't erase.
But that home-field shutout will have to do. Those four, and Harvard's 19 other seniors, won't have another chance at Penn.
Worse, they won't have another shot at the uncontested league title that's clouded them for all of their varsity careers.
"I'd rather have it come down to that last second and be crying and feel terrible than just get whooped." Vignali said after the visitors fell, 38-7.
"We should have won that game." Caron said of the 1982 heartbreaker. "It was taken away from us. Today we just got killed."
Barring an unforeseen catastrophe at Ithaca next Saturday, when the Quakers take on Cornell, the Crimson seniors won't have another chance at a third consecutive Ivy League title.
The knowledge that they have no control of the course of events weighs heaviest, making this defeat hurt even more than the first.
"It's worse, because last time we were robbed, and this time we got stomped on," Ford said.
"For the first time we had our own destiny in our own hands." Bergstrom said, "and we could have done what we wanted, and we didn't."
They didn't dominate, didn't convert third downs, didn't even hang on until late in the contest as they've done in every victory this year.
The combination of an injured quarterback, missed field--goals, interceptions and 28 unanswered second-half points by the maniacal Penn squad efficiently put Harvard away.
Even the four seniors.