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At Philadelphia on Saturday, in weather that was sharp and bracing, the Harvard eleven made its best showing of the season thus far, and won its sixth successive victory over the University of Pennsylvania by a score of 17 to 10. The crowd of 25,000 enthusiastic spectators saw an exhibition of exceedingly spirited football, and a contest that was sensational and exciting from start to finish. That the game should have been so stirring, was remarkable in view of the almost total absence of runs of more than fifteen yards in length. But there came continual unexpected changes in the relative advantage of play that left the result of the game decidedly in doubt until within a few minutes of the end.
Harvard was never behind in the score, and most of the time was ahead, but the lead, when it existed, was so perilously small that the game was never considered won until the last touchdown gave a sufficiently commanding advantage. The Pennsylvania team was trained to the hour and never let slip an opportunity to gain an advantage. Through speed and alertness, they twice secured the ball on fumbles near Harvard's goal line, and by swift, determined attack forced through the Harvard line for the two touchdowns that gave them their 10 points.
Pennsylvania should never have scored. That she did was due to the general looseness in the play of the Harvard team that cost, besides Pennsylvania's two touchdowns, the loss of two touchdowns that Harvard should have made. Although the play of the eleven, when compared to what it has been heretofore, showed marked improvement in nearly every way, it was plain to be seen that the team was startlingly weak in many particulars, and against heavier and stronger opponents must have either taxed its resources more severely or suffered a possibly severe defeat.
In team-play, the work of the University team could hardly be identified with what has passed for team-play previously this season. In that particular the improvement was great and genuine. But in defensive play there was little reliability, little consistent strength. Occasionally a play was stopped with a loss: but usually if a gain was very much needed by Pennsylvania the Harvard team did not evidence strength enough to prevent it. Harvard once lost the ball on downs in midfield and again was unable in three tries to carry the ball across Pennsylvania's five-yard line.
On the other hand, the game showed that the Harvard team has rare offensive strength. A swifter attack than that shown through much of the game has seldom been attained by a Harvard eleven. It must be admitted, however, that the failure to grasp opportunities to score is so far from exceptional that evidence of this defect has come to seem almost meritable in each and every game; the game with Pennsylvania was no exception to this generality.
The most apparent cause of Harvard's shortcomings as regards scoring was the inability to hold the ball. No less than eight fumbles were made by Harvard, five of which involved the loss of the ball, and in the other instances proved serious obstacles to success. The fumbling of punts was due partly to the high wind, and to the benumbing weather, but the serious results were due more directly to the failure of the men in the backfield to protect the runner by effective blocking.
Of the individual players, Parkinson deserves especial praise for his excellent passing at centre and his interfering for the backs in the attack. Bowditch was very effective in the interference and was of great assistance generally. In carrying the ball in ordinary scrimmages all the backs were exceedingly successful, but their work in the open was poor. Schoellkopf's line-plunging deserves enthusiastic mention. Marshall's judgment in running the team, in spite of an injury to his head, which made handling of punts uncertain, was remarkably good.
The fast play which characterized the game was present from the start. Pennsylvania kicked off into the teeth of the wind to C. B. Marshall, who advanced five yards to the 32-yard line. After two quickly executed plays, LeMoyne punted, and the ball, aided by the strong wind, sailed far through the air and rolled to Pennsylvania's 5-yard line. Reynolds soon punted and the rebound of the ball gave Harvard possession within 35 yards of the goal line. After a number of short plays had placed the ball on the 1-yard line, Schoellkopf scored a touchdown. On Marshall's attempt at a goal the ball struck one of the uprights. Score--Harvard, 5; Pennsylvania, 0.
After the next kick-off, Harvard rushed the ball a distance of 80 yards straight down the field to Pennsylvania's 5-yard line, but was unable to penetrate further. Marshall attempted a goal from the field against the wind, but missed by a narrow margin, and Reynolds punted to Harvard's 45-yard line. An exchange of punts brought considerable advantage in distance to Pennsylvania in addition to the possession of the ball, which was secured by Butkiewicz on Marshall's fumble at Harvard's 15-yard line. Amid intense excitement, Pennsylvania in eight rushes sent Smith over for a touchdown. A successful try at an easy goal was all that was necessary to give Pennsylvania the lead, but Reynolds failed. Score--Harvard, 5; Pennsylvania, 5.
In the remaining ten minutes of the first half Harvard secured the ball, on an exchange of punts, well within Pennsylvania's territory by means of the advantage in the wind, and after short gains of from two to four yards, had carried the ball to the 5-yard line, Nichols went through right tackle for a touchdown. Marshall kicked goal. Score--Harvard, 11; Pennsylvania, 5.
As soon as Harvard gained possession of the ball in the second half, it was carried steadily down the field to Pennsylvania's 17-yard line where it was lost on a fumble. A long, rolling punt, which reached Harvard's 12-yard line, was secured by Butkiewicz on Marshall's fumble and in seven plays Piekarkski scored Pennsylvania's second and last touchdown. Bennett missed an easy goal. Score--Harvard, 11; Pennsylvania, 10.
With twenty-five minutes remaining to play, Harvard secured the ball on Smith's punt, which followed soon after the kick-off, on Pennsylvania's 38-yard line and started another onslaught toward the goal line. The ball was soon carried to the 6-yard line whence Goodhue, who had taken Nichols's place, scored. Marshall again kicked goal.
During the remaining twenty minutes of play Harvard lost the ball once on downs and twice on fumbles. There were several exchanges of punts and the game ended with the ball in Harvard's possession on Pennsylvania's 45-yard line.
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