This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Tie, perhaps the most famous chapter in The Game's 110-year history and one of the greatest college football games ever played.
"HARVARD BEATS YALE, 29-29," The Crimson proclaimed after Harvard accomplished a miracle comeback against the heavily favored Elis. There have been many memorable Games over the years, but none has had the significance or fame that The Tie does.
On November 23, 1968, both teams entered Harvard Stadium with 8-0 records, but Yale was ranked in the top 25 and riding a 16-game winning streak, then longest in the nation.
Yale also featured the duo of Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill. Dowling, the model for B.D. in "Doonesbury," had not lost a football game since the sixth grade. Hill was an All-America and future Dallas Cowboys great.
The game began inauspiciously for Harvard, and all the predictions looked right. Yale marched up and down the field, getting off to a 22-0 lead. The Crimson seemed unable to stop the Yale powerhouse.
In the second quarter, Harvard Coach JohnYovicsin pulled starting quarterback George S.Lalich '69 and put in the man who would become thehero of the game, Frank K. Champi '70.
Champi managed to get the Crimson on the board,and the first half ended with Harvard down, 22-6.In the entire first half the Crimson managed only18 yards on the ground.
The third quarter was relatively uneventful,with Harvard narrowing the gap to 22-13 on a runby fullback Gus D. Crim '70. But Yale came rightback and padded its lead to 29-13 on a Dowlingrun. At that point, the Yale crowd broke out thewhite handkerchiefs in anticipation of victory.
The situation remained the same until 3:44remained in the fourth quarter. Then the teams'fortunes shifted. Yale fumbled while driving foranother score and Harvard recovered at its own 14.
The Crimson drove down the field and, with thehelp of a referee's ruling--an apparent fumble wascalled a lateral--managed to score on a run byCrim. The two-point conversion was incomplete, butHarvard capitalized on a second chance provided bya pass interference call on Yale. That left thescore 29-21 with 42 seconds remaining.
The Crimson then attempted an onside kick byKenneth D. Thomas '70. It bounced off Yale'sBradford Lee, who would later become a Harvardassociate professor of history, and was recoveredby Harvard's Bill Kelly '70.
From there, destiny drove Champi and Harvard tothe Yale eight-yard line. Champi took the snap andwas immediately under pressure. He rolled out tohis right and, throwing off his wrong foot, hitVictor Gatto '69 in the right corner of the endzone with no time on the clock.
Champi found Pete Varney '71 in the end zonefor the two-point conversion to seal Harvard's29-29 "victory." The elated Harvard fans stormedthe field as the Yale players retreated, stillundefeated but now tied for the coveted Ivy Leaguetitle.
At the conclusion of The Tie, Gatto, thecaptain, said, "When I saw it, I knew I had tolove it. Just hold it in my arms and love it."
In an interview on the 20th anniversary of TheTie, Dowling told The Crimson, "It was a tie,despite Harvard's arithmetic. It was Murphy's lawin reverse, from Yale's standpoint."
During Harvard's last-minute drives, Dowlingasked Coach Carm Cozza to put him in on defense,where he had starred in high school. Cozza refusedto alter his unit.
Cozza, who will coach the Elis today, wascrushed by the tie. "We literally knocked Harvardall over the lot until the very end, then to havethe roof cave in. We all felt like we lost thegame," he said.
In the years since, the star of The Tie hastried to get away from it. Champi, who could notbe reached for comment, did not even play hisentire senior year, quitting after only a fewgames.
He has attempted to leave the game in his pastfor years, and even his teammates have not seenmuch of him. But Champi remains one of thegreatest sports in Harvard history