Past Tense: The Game
To set the stage: November, 1922. Abbott Lawrence Lowell presides over Harvard University. Names like Greenough, Cabot, and F. A. O. Schwarz pepper the college roster. Office Hours are announced in The Harvard Crimson, alongside articles regarding the state of the British Parliament, reviews of theater productions across Boston, and an advertisement, directed at Harvard athletes, for a “private massage.” (Call “WIN”. Brookline 7784-J.)
The second Saturday of the month. The “University eleven” is to go up against Princeton football at Harvard Stadium. Both teams are entering the game with perfect 6-0 records. Princeton is coming off a couple of hard-fought victories. Harvard has just trounced Florida to the tune of 24 unrequited points.
The Crimson jump to a 3-0 lead with a drop-kick early in the game. When Harvard captain and quarterback Charles C. Buell '23 sprains his ankle at the top of the second quarter, however, the Crimson’s advantage is quickly erased, and Princeton rides to a 10-3 victory. It is the first time the Tigers have topped Harvard, at Harvard, since 1896.
The Crimson’s first defeat of the year, coupled with Buell’s injury, does not bode well for the future of the ’22 season. Despite this, spirits are lifted at the university when The Harvard Crimson reports that the quarterback will be available for play in that Saturday’s game against Brown.
The week’s papers are littered with athletic updates and the ever-present offer of a private massage. Wednesday’s issue features a letter to the editor predicting, “the farmer in 1970 will hold the position of foremost among mankind.” Friday’s paper claims that 800 first-years—or, all of them—cheered on the freshman team the day before, during an assembly prior to Saturday’s game against their Yale counterparts.
The dominant Princeton team looks to be on its way to a fourth-straight Ivy League title. The success of the season will no longer be measured by Harvard’s Ivy League ranking, but by the result of a single game. All that matters is beating Yale.
But, for the time being, the game that will capture the attention of the Harvard undergraduate community is on Saturday against Brown.
Harvard, featuring their second-string quarterback (to avoid further injury to Buell) and second-string coach (as head coach Robert T. Fisher '12 is in New Jersey scouting the Princeton-Yale game) has trouble landing the ball in the Brown end zone, but simultaneously holds the Bears scoreless throughout the first three quarters.
At the beginning of the second quarter, the Crimson forces the ball behind the Bears’ goal line, but the play is nullified after a holding penalty is called on the offense. This will be the closest Harvard gets to scoring. At the top of the fourth quarter, Brown sends the ball through the uprights to take a 3-0 lead and the victory.
A week later: It is November 25. A mild, even balmy late-November week has given way to a brisk Saturday. The Harvard undergraduate population piles onto trains and into cars, clogging routes across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut for the pilgrimage to New Haven.
This is the 41st edition of the Harvard-Yale game. In the wake of back-to-back losses to Princeton and Brown, the odds are against the Harvard eleven. Questions abound as to how much playing time Buell, fresh off an injury to his ankle, will be able endure.
The coin flip goes to the Crimson, and the game begins. Early in the first quarter, George Owen Jr. '23 snags a punt and returns it with what The Crimson will, on Monday, call “a dazzling feat...the sensation of the game.” Deftly dodging a trio of Eli players, Owen runs the ball 57-yards to Yale’s 4-yard-line where he is forced out of bounds. Nevertheless, Owen picks up the touchdown in the following plays with a run up the middle.
At the opening of the second period, Yale scores on a drop-kick, shrinking the Crimson lead to only four points. But the Elis will score no more, and the Crimson goes on to their third-straight season-ending victory over Yale.
“Yale Goes Down to 10-3 Defeat as Owen Runs Wild.”