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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
1. Harvard-Holy Cross
From the first Harvard-Holy Cross game in 1904 to the first Holy Cross victory in 1925, the story of Crimson-Purple gridiron clashes is one of an increasingly successful struggle on the part of the crusaders to break through the Crimson tradition of victory. Until 1920 Harvard had always won by a comfortable margin, a triumph over the Worcester eleven being taken for granted at the beginning of each football season. But in 1920 and again in 1921 Holy Cross teams came to the Stadium which were about a match for the best the University had and which surrendered after both of the two bitter battles by a scant three point margin.
The next year marked a reversion to former conditions, a powerful Harvard eleven shutting out the Crusaders, 12 to 0. In 1923, however, Holy Cross came back stronger than ever and after threatening throughout most of the game to break the long established Crimson supremacy was downed by a fake kick and pass from the hand of K. S. Plaffmann '24, Harvard's drop-kick specialist of a few years back. 1924 merely saw a prolongation of the struggle, and then in 1925 Crimson failure to kick a point after touchdown into the afternoon's total gave the Purple its first victory over a Harvard team. Last year a bewildering flock of forward passes again turned the tables on the Crimson, this time by the more substantial score of 19 to 14.
Is Purple Winning Streak Temporary?
Today marks the twelfth encounter of Harvard and Holy Cross teams on the gridiron. The chief question in the minds of football experts is this: Has Holy Cross established a counter tradition of victory, similar to that consistently upheld by Harvard teams a few years back, which it will take another long struggle to wear down, or are the Holy Cross successes of the past two years merely a temporary interruption in the succession of Harvard wins?
Recent Games Bitterly Contested
There have been many close verdicts, and a liberal sprinkling of spectacular plays in modern Harvard Holy Cross football history, but the dominant characteristic has been the fierce struggle on the one hand to stave off an even more threatening attack and on the other to break down a perennially stubborn defense. For moments of relaxation from the tension of hotly contested encounters we must look back to the first game ever played between the two colleges, in the Stadium in 1904. Harvard won 28 to 5, using so many substitutes as completely to disgust contemporary scribes. Touchdowns then counted five points each, Holy Cross made its in the following fashion: One of the Purple backs broke through the Harvard line within his own ten yard mark and got started down the field ahead of his interference. He was free of everyone but the Harvard quarterback who having no interference to bother with succeeded in dragging him down on the Crimson 40 yard line. For a moment it looked as though the Crusaders were stopped far short of their goal, but it happened that Purple ingenuity was not yet exhausted. As the runner came to earth he dropped the ball, one of his own interference behind him picked it up and completed the triumphal run for the only Holy Cross score of the afternoon. BY TIME OUT.
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