The breakaway. Few plays in football are as capable of bringing 20,000 fans to their feet in such a wave of fevered expectation.
Rarely can one or two steps spell the difference between the game-breaking score and the game-saving tackle.
Never is there a greater test of pure speed and stamina.
The ball-carrier sees only the endzone in front of him. Thinks only six points. Hopes only to have enough oxygen to reach his destination.
The defensive player sees only his moving prey. Thinks only of how best to move in for the attack. Hopes only to have enough oxygen to outrun his foe.
The breakaway is football's glamour play--the one that makes the highlight film on the 11 o'clock news. The one that makes big names out of players like Tony Hinz.
Saturday afternoon, Hinz--a fullback on the Harvard football team--made a big name for himself. Saturday night, he was seen on TVs all across New England.
Sure, Hinz's 73-yard touchdown run midway through the third period did not prove essential in the Crimson's 42-3 triumph over defense-less Dartmouth.
Harvard was already well on its way to its fourth win of the '87 season when Hinz took a handoff from quarterback Tom Yohe, followed the flow of his offensive line one way, then cut back the other and scampered down the sideline untouched.
But a 73-yard run is a 73-yard run. You don't have to win a ballgame to make a name for yourself. Or go prime-time.
"The play is designed to get the flow going one direction, and it's a counter-play," said Hinz, describing his run. "There's belly action to the left, then I'm supposed to cut back with the offensive tackle blocking for me."
A run, though, is only as good as the blocking that allows the play to develop. And with just over six minutes gone by in the third quarter, and the Crimson facing a second and 10 from its own 27, Harvard's offensive line was good. Very good.
"Everyone's going to be excited when they see the film." Harvard offensive backfield Coach Frank Hershey said. "Everything was picture-perfect. Everyone stuck to their people and Tony went through there clean as a whistle. There was good downfield blocking, too."
All told, Hinz rushed 12 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns. The latter two numbers are both single-game highs for the Crimson this season.
"That was probably his best day [at Harvard]," Harvard Coach Joe Restic said. "He's a deceptive kind of runner. Once he gets out there, he turns it on."
Finding someone with the ability to "turn it on" has been one of Restic's primary concerns throughout the fall.
Without senior running back Rufus Jones--who has been lost to the Crimson all year long because of a leg injury--Harvard lacks the explosive outside speed Restic hoped his gridders would have in '87.
With Hinz, and fellow backs David Bunning and Bob Glatz, Harvard does have a tough inside game, but no real burners on the outside.
Hinz did not get off to a good start against the Green. In the first quarter, he rushed twice for a total of one yard. Three times in the opening frame, Yohe--who had only 10 incompletions the whole day--was unable to hook up with Hinz.
And the one pass that Yohe did complete to Hinz was fumbled by the 6-ft., 1-in. Great Falls, Mont. native.
But Hinz proved why you don't give up on a talented player too soon. When the second quarter came around, so did Hinz.
On his first carry of the quarter, Hinz broke off left tackle for a 21-yard pick-up.
On his second carry, he powered into the endzone from three yards out for the first of his two TDs.
And on his third carry, Hinz sprinted off right tackle for a 25-yard gain, setting up a Yohe-to-Bunning touchdown pass that put the game out of reach before intermission.
Then came the breakaway.
Hinz lined up as a wingback behind the tight end. Yohe faked to the fullback and handed off to Hinz, who broke left as his line moved right.
"He had a couple of other good runs earlier," Hershey said. "I was just hoping he would have enough to get on in there."
Hinz had similar hopes.
"When I get outside, I always think six points," he said. "You just turn on the jets, but you can't think TD too early. Once I got down to the 15, I thought I could make it."
"If he had been stopped at the 10, the team would have gotten on him on the sidelines," Hershey said. "They would have teased him, `You have no jets, you have no jets."'
Saturday, Tony Hinz had rockets.