No one thought Clifton Dawson’s record-breaking season could get any
better. And then they watched the 122nd edition of The Game.
For the junior running back who surpassed Harvard’s all-time
rushing record of 3,330 yards mid-season and is in the top-10 in the
Ivy League in rushing, all-purpose yards, scoring touchdowns, and total
offense, high expectations existed as the Crimson entered the Yale
And Dawson did not disappoint.
Leading the team with 33 carries for 128 yards rushing and 10
catches for 85 yards, Dawson put his heart and soul into the game
“I didn’t come in expecting to be the primary receiver,”
Dawson said. “But I kept thinking, I have the next eight months to rest
And his devotion paid off.
After being down 21-3 in the third quarter, the game looked like it might be a blowout.
But Dawson helped put Harvard back on track with his first touchdown, a 16-yard reception to make the score 21-10.
After hard-fought third and fourth quarters, The Game went to the first overtime in its history.
Two and a half drama-filled extra periods saw four turnovers and no changes to the 24-24 tie.
“Some of the things we saw down the stretch were very hard to
believe,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “There were so many times
where you said, how many more breaks can we catch? How many more breaks
can we make?”
But when the ball made it back into Crimson hands in the third
overtime, Harvard finally took advantage of the opportunity, pushing
the ball to the eight yard-line.
Everyone knew what time it was.
Chants flowed through the minds of the silent fans standing atop the benches in the stands: “Clifton Dawson...Clifton Dawson.”
First play, Dawson muscled his way to a two-yard gain. Second
play, a four-yard gain. This was it. Either Dawson would bring it in,
or sophomore kicker Matt Schindel would get his second chance at a
game-winning field goal.
The ball was snapped and passed smoothly into Dawson’s hands.
Moving right, he plunged through the Bulldog defenders and into the
endzone. Harvard clinched a 30-24 victory and the Crimson’s first
five-game winning streak in the history of The Game.
“It was too stressful,” cornerback Steven Williams said. “I’d
rather it had been a blowout or something like that. But we’ll take the
win either way.”
As fans rushed the field victoriously, their mental chants became verbal.