Two of the best quarterbacks in New England faced each other Saturday afternoon at The Stadium.
At one side of the field stood Dave Palazzi, number 7 for the University of Massachusetts, a senior from Leominster, Mass. Palazzi is the Minutemen's field general and a big reason why UMass scored 62 points in its first two games this season.
At the other side stood Tom Yohe, number 7 for Harvard, a senior from Crown Point, III. Yohe is the Crimson's field general, a big reason Harvard captured the Ivy League championship last year.
Drop the Glove
Saturday afternoon, the two generals dueled.
They had contrasting styles. Palazzi relied more on the option to set up big plays. Yohe sent UMass linemen into the Dizzy Zone with his scrambles, turning losses into typical Yohe gains.
They had formidable supporting casts. Palazzi relied on Chip Mitchell, Dave Mitchell and John Smellie. Yohe had Tony Hinz, Mark Bianchi and Neil Phillips.
Early in the game, the duel reached a fever pitch. Yohe ran. Palazzi ran. Yohe and the Crimson scored. Palazzi and the Minutemen scored. Back and forth.
But Palazzi had something else--another number 7 tucked under his jersey. While the duel continued, Palazzi and the Minutemen had the breaks. Yohe and the Crimson did not.
"I thought we played pretty well," Yohe said, "although we did have some breakdowns."
A dropped pass, a deflected pass, a trip at the line of scrimmage, an onside kick that, at first, looked successful. Harvard wasn't rolling any sevens Saturday.
Palazzi, at times, had the dice loaded. On fourth and one with the Minutemen up, 31-21, Palazzi ran the option. Harvard defensive back Jim Smith had Palazzi nailed way behind the line of scrimmage. Somehow, the UMass quarterback managed to flick the ball to Smellie who ran for the touchdown.
"I thought [Palazzi] handled himself really well," UMass Coach Jim Reid said. "He was running our offense, checking at the line. You look at a play and say, "That's a nicely developed play. But Dave probably took us out of a play that would not have been a good play."
Palazzi completed 10 of 18 passes for 199 yards and threw for three touchdowns. Yohe's stats: 36 attempts, 20 completions, 312 yards and two touchdowns.
Although UMass had the game won late in the fourth quarter when David Mitchell busted through the Harvard defense for the score, Yohe and Co. didn't quit. With the battle over, the two generals were still dueling.
At 8:04 of the fourth quarter, Yohe pump faked the entire UMass defense and found Hinz for the final score of the game. A lesser quarterback might not have been able to mount a comeback so quickly with his team down by 24 points.
"We have a team that never gives up," Yohe said. "We're going to keep going until the last second ticks off the clock."
The seconds ticked and the duel contiuned. Yet like any other duel, there could only be one winner. On Saturday afternoon, Palazzi was the one who won.
"[Palazzi] takes the pressure off their running game," Harvard Coach Joe Restic said. "He had a great game."
Yohe, the Crimson's three-year varisty veteran, knows duels can last only for an afternoon. There will be another duel next weekend, a duel he could win. For Yohe, Saturday's game was only round two of a 10-round season. And Yohe knows how to duel. He'll win his share of them this year.
Maybe he'll have a couple of extra sevens tucked under his jersey. Just in case.