NEW HAVEN, CONN.--The Game, they say, is special.
Nothing is like The Game--that's why out of all of the millions of games played each year in the world, it has earned the honor of being called The Game.
That's why over 57,000 people showed up Saturday in the cold of the Yale Bowl to watch Harvard and Yale face-off for the 102nd time. The largest crowd the Crimson had played in front of this year before Saturday numbered 18,040.
That's why a reporter from Sports Illustrated and three from the Boston Globe sat in the press box.
That's why John H. Norton took the trouble to determine that, with Yale's 17-6 victory this weekend, the Bulldogs now hold a 5-4-1 series advantage in Games played in a year ending in a "5".
But none of these is the reason that Saturday was special for the Harvard gridders.
For the gridders, this year's Game was special because they failed to come back.
Most of the games in Harvard's 1985 season played like a James Bond movie--enough adversity and rough going early to keep the customers happy followed by a spectacular finish which saw the good guys emerge victorious.
Time and time again, a gridder would step forward ("My name is White. Brian White." or "My name is Santiago. Robert Santiago.") and defeat the evil enemy.
At Columbia, a 17-0 third quarter deficit became a 49-17 Crimson laugher. At Cornell, a last-second Rob Steinberg field goal sank the Big Red, 20-17. At Holy Cross, a 41-second, 21-point explosion in the game's waning minutes resurected Harvard to a 28-20 victory.
And on Saturday, the same plot appeared to be playing itself out. Yale dominated play for the first three quarters and took a 17-0 lead into the final frame of the season.
But then our heroes began their much awaited comeback. Starting on its own 15, Harvard put together its best drive of the day, going 85 yards in less than three-and-a-half minutes to bring the score to 17-6.
And even though a White pass to split end Joe Connolly for a two-point conversion failed, the Crimson seemed back on track in its familiar plot.
A force for evil
But a warrior of evil stepped forward with all the determination of a man bent on finally retiring Roger Moore.
His name was Cozza. Carm Cozza.
Yale took the kickoff after Harvard's score and moved nine yards, two feet, and nine inches in its first three plays from scrimmage.
Faced with a fourth down deep in his own territory and trying to protect an 11-point lead with seven minutes left in the game, a lesser man would have punted and bet on his defense.
But Yale Coach Cozza sensed his role as epic villain and played it to the hilt. Cozza restrained his punter on the sidelines and waved quarterback Mike Curtin forward.
And when fullback Rick Kose bulled off right tackle for five yards and repeated his fourth down heroics four plays later--this time on fourth and a foot--Columbia Pictures was ready to retire the aging Moore and offer Cozza a lifetime contract.
In two gutsy plays--the failure of either of which could have brought inglorious defeat--the Bulldog mentor had changed the script and left the Crimson glancing around in confusion.
Suddenly, Bulldogs had earned starring roles in the Harvard highlight film.
And the Crimson's season had fallen to the cutting room floor, the victim of a most dangerous enemy, one who refused to realize that James Bond always wins.