The Harvard rugby club snuffed a late Yale rally Saturday to best the Elis, 24-10, in front of more than 600 spectators at Soldiers Field.
A year ago, Yale staged a furious last-minute comeback to edge the Crimson, 17-16. The Elis reeled off 17 points in the final 20 minutes, including a penalty kick after time had expired.
Saturday, Yale was on the verge of staging another late rally. With 10 minutes remaining and Harvard leading, 24-6, Yale put together a sustained drive to reach the goal line.
"I was thinking, 'Oh no! It's going to happen again.'" Crimson Co-Captain Jon Israel said.
But after several minutes of toe-to-toe action, the ball popped loose and Harvard kicked it out to crush Yale's rally.
"It was a good, nice lift," Israel said of the goal-line stand, "At that point, they knew they would lose."
Yale eventually scored five minutes later, but had little time left for another miracle finish.
Spinning in the Wind
The Crimson spent the first half battling the wind as well as the Elis. Despite the handicap, Harvard jumped ahead, 6-0, on a try by Mark Sagarin.
"I wanted to keep the score close [against the wind] and we were ahead by six," Israel said. "Once we got the wind, I knew we would win the game."
Yale knotted the score with 10 minutes left in the opening half. But come the second half, Harvard got the wind at its back and blew the Elis away with three consecutive trys by Rob Leavitt, Lanny Thorndike and Bruce Rossow.
Harvard Coach Martyn Kingston was impressed with the visitors: "I have not yet seen a better Yale side," he said. "They were really big, with four guys weighing over 230 pounds." In compairson, only two Harvard ruggers tip the scales at over 215 pounds.
"We were outweighed by 10 to 15 pounds a man, but we were more aggressive," Kingston said. "Our forward pack is one of the best in New England."
"There's an old saying in rugby: 'Take no prisoners,'" Crimson Co-Captain Ray LaRaja said. "That's exactly what we did on Saturday."
In other rugby action, Harvard's B-side tied Yale, 6-6; Harvard alumni whipped Yale alumni, 36-12; and the Radcliffe rugby squad blanked the Elis, 6-0, Friday.