Outside The Stadium today, there was an aura of frantic competition. Budding capitalists hawked pennants, pins, programs, boxer shorts, sausages, T-shirts, T-shirts and more T-shirts. Chanting Afro-Am marchers strained to be heard above the din of the battling bands. Tipsy tailgaters engaged in miniature Harvard-Yale shouting wars.
But inside The Stadium, the competition was mild at best. Except for a short-lived third-quarter Harvard rally, Yale dominated the 107th edition of The Game from start to finish. Elis quarterback Darin Kehler executed the option to perfection all day, sparking a 34-19 stomping that left Harvard Coach Joe Restic and Harvard President Derek C. Bok with 9-11 records against Yale during their 20-year tenures.
"Their QB did a fine job," said Harvard Coach Joe Restic of Kehler, who rushed for 92 yards and completed eight of nine passes for 113 more. "He's a stong runner. We handled the pitch fairly well, but once they spread it out, he could cut back and that's how they got the big plays."
While throngs of Elis stormed the field in the waning moments the Crimson-dominated crowd was forced to take solace in Harvard's recent victories in Bright Center, the Department of Education and U.S. News & World Report. Other than the prompt arrest of a host of delirious New Havenites in various stages of undress, there wasn't much for Harvard (5-5 overall, 3-4 Ivy) to cheer about today.
Even the players who assembled for the coin flip symbolized the up-and-down Harvard season of tough defense and injury-plagued offense. Out to midfield went Joe Gordian--the superstar linebacker who broke the Crimson single-season sack record--and Captain Tom Callahan--the much-heralded offensive tackle who missed Harvard's last eight games with a bad back.
Yale won the flip and chose to receive, and the first quarter was all downhill for Harvard from there.
The Crimson offense would run off a grand total of four plays in the period to Yale's 26, rack up zero first downs to the Elis' seven and total 2:29 of ball posession to the Bulldogs' 12:31. By the time the quarter had ended, Yale (6-4, 4-2) had a 14-0 lead and was threatening to score again.
Yale took the opening kickoff to its own 30-yard line--knocking Harvard kicker Scott Johnson for a loop in the process--and promptly marched 53 yards to the Crimson 16 on nine running plays out of the wishbone and a 3rd-and-8 pass from quarterback Darin Kehler to Jim Gouveia out of the I formation.
On Harvard's second play from scrimmage, quarterback Tom Priore bumped into the ample frame of 300-lb. tackle Doug Rosenberry on a slow-developing option play. Rather than take a sack, Priore pitched out to nobody. Oft-injured Elis Captain Chris Gaughan pounced on the pigskin at the Harvard 21 to put the Crimson D right back onto the field.
The Elis failed to advance on two aborted running plays, but a Jim Reddinger third-down sack was negated by a face-mask penalty. Given a reprieve, Kehler hit running back Chris Kouri at the Harvard 4. The defense stood tough, keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone on three plunges. But on fourth down, Yale back Kevin Callahan silenced the roaring crowd by soaring over the pile and nearly out of the open end of The Stadium for a two-TD Yale advantage.
After an ultra-conservative three-run-and-punt series that Harvard fans have come to expect, Yale took over yet again, this time at its own 16. Once again, the Bulldogs went on the march, driving to the Harvard 24 on the ground before the clock showed zeroes.
When the second period began, Harvard finally showed a few signs of life. The defense held, forcing Yale to settle for a 38-yard Ed Perks field goal. The offense registered its first first down on a 13-yard Priore pass to Matt Johnson and a 18-yard sprint by Kendrick Joyce. But on a key third down, Priore was sacked and coughed the ball up again at the Yale 38. The Elis moved upfield on six straight running plays to set up another Perks field goal for a 20-0 halftime margin.
Harvard, showing no signs of revival at the end of intermission, was forced to punt to the Elis, who subsequently drove to the Harvard 17. But Perks' field goal attempt missed right to keep Harvard within three TDs.
A rejuvenated Harvard offense drove down the field and on a critical 3rd-and-five situation, a bone-rattling block by Rosenberry cleared two Bulldogs out of the backfield springing Colby Maher for a 16-yard TD.
Yale then plowed down to the Harvard 27, but Perks failed once again from 47 yards out. Harvard went back to work, driving to the Yale 15 after a Johnson 26-yard jaunt. But a Rosenberry clip stalled the drive, forcing Restic to settle for a 37-yard Scott Johnson field goal to cut Yale's lead to 20-10 with 12 minutes to play. Harvard never threatened again.