Saturday's Harvard-University of Massachusetts football game was like a battery advertisement. Both teams were able to keep their engines running for a half, but only UMass, old diehard, could finish the game with juice still left.
After a close first half, the Minutemen pulled away, 45-28, in front of 7500 spectators at The Stadium. The loss dropped Harvard's record to 1-1. But, more pointedly, it shed light on some glaring Crimson deficiencies--including a defense that at times seemed unsure of itself, even lost.
Going into halftime, Harvard trailed, 21-14. The game could have been tied had the Crimson scored on fourth-and-goal from the five-yard line with under a minute left in the half. (Quarterback Tom Yohe's pass fell short of Mark Bianchi's grasp in the end zone.)
In the second half, UMass's option offense bemused and bullied the Crimson defense. Minuteman quarterback Dave Palazzi, who had 91 first-half passing yards, threw for 108 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
UMass's 45 points were the most the Crimson has given up since 1969, when Princeton crushed Harvard, 51-20. The loss also snapped Harvard's seven-game home winning streak, which extended back to 1986. (UMass, incidentally, was the last team to trip up the Crimson at home, 17-7, November 9, 1986.)
Both sides saw Harvard's failure to score at the end of the half as a crucial element in the game's outcome.
"If we could have gone into the half tied, it might have changed the way the defense looked at the game," said Crimson halfback Tony Hinz, who rushed for 105 yards. "The defense was kind of down."
"It gave our defense a little lift at half time," UMass Coach Jim Reid said. "I told them at half time, 'We finally grew up. We hung tough.'"
The Minutemen scored on six of their next seven possessions, including on a 78-yard pass from Palazzi to Chip Mitchell with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
Harvard, playing in only its second game of the year (and last week's 41-7 cakewalk over Columbia proved little more than a light workout) wore down in the second half.
Harvard jumped to a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. With the score even at 7, Alan Hall punted to Jerome Bledsoe at the 14 yard line. Bledsoe dropped the ball and the Crimson's Ray O'Hare recovered. (After the game, Reid was asked what he had said to Bledsoe when Bledsoe trudged to the sidelines. Reid laughed. "I said, 'Jerome, expletive deleted, expletive deleted, expletive deleted.' Then I said, 'If you do that again, expletive deleted, expletive deleted, expletive deleted.'")
Three plays later, Yohe snuck into the end zone from one yard out.
But UMass wasted no time retaliating. On the ensuing kickoff, Chip Mitchell ran 75 yards to Harvard's 19-yard line. Touche.
On the next play, Kevin Smellie took a pitch from Palazzi and scampered into the end zone.
"That broke our back," Restic said.