WOCESTER--In the end, the Cross was just too much to bear.
The Harvard football team traveled to Holy Cross to take on the undefeated and top-ranked Crusaders Saturday, and for 25 minutes the Crimson hung tough, trailing 7-0 to a team which had been favored by 30.
It didn't last. With less than four minutes remaining in the first four minutes remaining in the first half, Holy Cross marched down the field and scored on a 23-yd. run by fullback Willie Bradford. The hosts added two touchdown early in the third quarter, and rout was on.
When the final gun had sounded, the Division I-AA-leading Crusaders were proud and obnoxious owners of a 41-6 victory. Proud because the Cross seems well on its way to an undefeated season.
And obnoxious because the game saw a display of ungodliness and running up the score not seen by Harvard since, well, the last time it played Holy Cross.
The crowing moment for the unholy Crusaders came late in fourth quarter after they had scored their sixth touchdown of the day, when the Cross attempted an on-sides kick. Of course, this was not particularly surprising from the same team which went with a no huddle, hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter against Brown two weeks ago--when leading by a count of 34-0.
"What are you going to do, fall down?" said Crusader Coach Mark Duffner, summing up his football philosophy. "You better try to score. That's what you're paid to do. That's what you coach those players to do."
Harvard's loss dropped its record to 6-2 overall (4-1 Ivy) but did nothing to harm its growing Ivy title chances.
In fact, Cornell's 28-9 loss to Yale Saturday means that only the Crimson and Elis remain with a single loss in league play. If both teams win next week, The Game will be a winner-take-all but for the first time since 1968.
"We have two big ones coming up and we have to get those two--that's what's important," Harvard Coach Joe Restic said after the game.
But the Crimson will have to make its run at the Ivy title without starting safety Brian Gescuk, who suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the first quarter. Gescuk was carried off the field on a stretcher and will require surgery.
For most of the first half here before 17,211 fans at Fitton Field, the Harvard defense played nearly even with the high-powered Crusader offense which had come into the contest averaging 49 points and 563 total yards per game.
The Cross scored on a pretty 34-yd. Jeff Wiley to Lee Hull scoring pass in the Middle of the first quarter, but Harvard held otherwise.
Meanwhile the Harvard offense, under record-setting QB tom Yohe (who wound up with 237 yards on the day), was having trouble getting on track. Facing a gusty 25-mile per hour wind in the first quarter, the Crimson managed only two first downs. Harvard didn't have much better luck in the second quarter, either.
"We sure could have used a touchdown earlier in the game to keep it close," said Yohe, who broke a number of school records Saturday including the dubious most attempts in a game mark (Yohe had 52). "The defense did a great job in the first half, but we were just not productive."