A Holy Glow After the Crucial Play
Mark My Words
WORCESTER--Mark Duffer was trying to explain the touchdown. He paused for the right words. Such a big play in such a big game deserved the proper descriptive language.
"That's a good play on the goal line," the Holy Cross football coach said. "We've been running a lot of belly plays and so forth out of that set. If you're a good offensive coach, you do something different."
He paused, recalling the dynamics of tailback Gordie Lockbaum's option pass that sailed into tight end Randy Pedro's hands with less than four minutes left in a tight, tense Harvard-Holy Cross showdown here.
"We've been working on it every week," Duffner said, smiling, revelling in the memory of his team's come-from-nowhere victory Saturday. "We were just waiting for the best time to call it."
Duffer could not have picked a better time. His team was behind with only three minutes in the game. His team was down. The fans were down. Defeat for the Holy Crusaders seemed certain.
But there was Lockbaum. Oh, there was Golden Gordie, Flash Gordon. The blond, blue-eyed Heisman Trophy candidate took a pitch from quarterback Jeff Wiley and sprinted to his right. He tucked the ball neatly by his hip.
"We can't be predictable when we get down to the goal line," Lockbaum beamed afterward, his face glowing with his latest miraculous exploit. "We have to show a little diversity and that's what we did."
Gordie ran right. The Harvard defense followed. The Harvard defense closed in on him. The Harvard defense was going to crush him as it had crushed him and his teammates throughout the game.
Less than four minutes left. A last chance at victory. But, look, the Harvard defense was coming.
"I just had to wait for it to develop and sell the run," Lockbaum explained, reaching for the proper words to describe his wonderful heave into the endzone. "I tried to keep it tucked away as long as possible."
Lockbaum waited. And waited. And waited. The Crimson defense came hard. They surrounded him. He was the monkey in the middle. He was the lamb on the Crimson's sacrificial fire. Golden Gordie was going down. Down. Down.
The Crusaders would lose. Flash Gordon would be flattened. The end was near. The end was near.
"I was getting pressure by one of their tackles," Lockbaum said. "So I had to take it outside and locate Randy."
Randy was there. In the endzone. Somehow he had managed to slip past a gigantic Crimson secondary and find a patch of open space in the endzone. Just a little batch of green in the corner of the endzone, but Randy was there.
He was calling for the ball.
"Throw it, Gordie. Throw it."
Gordie did. Randy caught it. With 3:37 left in the game, the Crusaders scored to pull out a miraculous 41-6 victory.