PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Crimson quarterback Brian White dropped back to pass in the second quarter Saturday and spotted split end Mike Madden open nine yards downfield. White hung tough under heavy pressure, and jetted a spiral towards Madden.
As the ball flew downfield, however, a big Brown linebacker tipped the ball--and then a Bruin defensive back pawed the football.
Madden never moved. He waited patiently on the Brown nine for the ball to complete its gyrations.
Finally, the pirouetting pigskin plopped safely into Madden's hands.
That play, perhaps more than any other, typified Harvard's 25-17 victory at Brown Saturday. The Crimson rarely played like the X's and O's on the lockerrom chalk-boards. Not even close.
But when opportunity knocked, the Crimson, like Madden, was ready.
Harvard took advantage of five Brown turnovers. The team capitalized on mistakes. The Crimson did everything that grizzled coaches and has-been announcers tell us you've got to do to win.
It wasn't pretty, but it worked.
The Crimson never dominated the Bruins. Until the final 10 minutes, Harvard couldn't even put together anything resembling a sustained offensive drive.
Nineteen yards rushing in the first half. Six quarterback sacks for the game. Only nine first downs.
Statistically, Brown burned Harvard all afternoon. "Even though some people [i.e., everybody who saw the game] may feel that in some areas we outplayed [Harvard] and that we were a better football team and all that, that's not true," said Brown Coach John Rosenberg.
"You have to win the football game, and we didn't do it," he said.
Harvard did it. "They did a great job of turning the game around, of turning things and making them go their way," Rosenberg concluded.
And the Crimson was awfully efficient about it. The team's first four scoring drives all began the same way: with fumble recoveries. All of them resulted in a score less than five plays later.
"If you get a turnover, you really have to take advantage of it," Harvard Coach Joe Restic said afterwards. "You have to capitalize, you have to get points on the board when that happens."
So Harvard's most impressive scoring total of the year against a legitimate defense (Columbia doesn't count) had little to do with ball-control offense or long pass plays or clock-eating, line-busting rushes.
It had more to do with tough defensive plays and an opportunistic mentality.
"It becomes a psychological thing," said Restic, a master at driving Harvard fans crazy before pulling out close wins.
The Crimson needed all the madness it could muster Saturday, because Brown--six-and-a-half point favorites to beat Harvard--really, really wanted to win.
Football players in the Brown Class of 1986 will be the fourth in a row to graduate without ever triumphing over Harvard.
"If you took a poll, everybody in the league wants to beat Harvard," Brown linebacker Tom Cole told the Brown Daily Herald Friday.
So in the final minutes, Brown tried valianty to beat a team it wanted to maul and should have massacred. But when Bruin signalcaller Steve Kettelberger--who had a superb day--attempted to lead his troops to a final touchdown, Harvard Captain Brent Wilkinson picked him off to seal the sweet upset win.
"That was way too close," Wilkinson said after the victory. "A blowout's better."
But Harvard simply didn't have the muscle to blow Brown out--just as the Crimson simply didn't have the dominated city council debate and the CCA platform for several years. The CCA-supported policy which regulates rent in low- and moderate-income city housing, was finally passed into law in 1969, but the liberal party lost substantial support in the process.
"Towards the end of the 60s, most people became more socially conscious, and the CCA simply joined this enlightened awareness," says Elaine Kistiakowsky, active in the association for 25 years and currently one of its vice presidents. "To have not changed meant you had to be very unconcerned with people."
Since then, the CCA has continued its support of progressive policy by endorsing slates of candidates for election to the nine-member city council and the seven-member school committee.
Recent issues of concern for the group have included a civilian review board for the Cambridge Police Department, in the wake of charges of racial discrimination by the force, and the perennial problems of Cambridge's tight housing market.
"We haven't lost our focus on government, we've just added the concern for social issues," says City Councilor David E. Sullivan, a CCA-endorsee.
This year, however, the association is facing yet another split in its supporters. A new group known as Coalition '85, many of whom live in rent-controlled buildings and have traditionally supported CCA-endorsed candidates, are running three candidates of their own this year.
In addition, the CCA is faced with increasingly hostile attacks from Cambridge realtors, who say that rent control policies actually force up city rent levels, and urge residents to vote for one of the Independent candidates. The Independents, who form a looser coalition, are generally more conservative and tend to have deeper roots in city neighborhoods.
The issue of rent control becomes crucial because of the form of city government. Most legislation requires a five-member majority on the city council, but rent control issues require six votes to institute change. For years, neither the CCA nor the conservative faction has been able to gain a majority on the council.
Before 1953, the CCA regularly elected five of the nine councilors, yet since then the number has averaged four--not enough to engineer any major legislation. All four current members of the council who received CCA endorsements are running for re-election, along with two newcomers. Outside competition for the liberal votes of Cambridge could result in several of the candidates losing the election, or even the CCA losing one of its four council seats.
"It's a major challenge, but I think the CCA will meet it," says Sullivan. "A lot more heat is being generated by a few defectors from the CCA than is merited by their political clout."
"They're people who haven't participated in the CCA for years--they're relics of a past generation," Sullivan says, adding that in his opinion the controversy has proven beneficial to the CCA by forcing the association to define its position on issues such as condominium conversion; issues on which the organization earlier was reluctant to take a stand