Riding high after three consecutive victories, the varsity football team ran into fired-up Pennsylvania and took a crashing header last Saturday afternoon. The Quakers scored a decisive 19-6 victory; and, in doing so, they pretty much ended discussion of an Ivy League championship in the hamburger-joints around Harvard Square.
The startling ineptitude of the Crimson's performance against Penn raises several disturbing questions. . . . One cannot help but wonder now whether its fine victory against Dartmouth the previous week was not just a flash-in-the-pan. Furthermore, it is hard to escape the conclusion the varsity may have some bad moments against the three Ivy opponents which it still has to meet.
Of course, Pennsylvania deserves much credit for producing some very good football on Saturday. Prior to the game, the Quakers had been reported in rather bad shape--both physically and in terms of team morale. Right from the start, however, their play belied these rumors.
Their linemen played very aggressively, consistently outcharging the Harvard forwards; and their backs ran with drive and finesse. Their quarterbacks search- ed out weaknesses in the Crimson defensive alignments, and exploited these to the full.
Harvard's most vulnerable point was among the defenders assigned to cover the weak side of the Pennsylvania attack. The Quakers had a devastating power play aimed at exactly this spot which could be counted on for at least a fiveyard gain nearly every try.
It involved a simple hand-off to the right halfback, who then followed the fullback, the left-half and a lineman towards the weakside end. The blockers always seemed to outnumber the defenders, and the play usually got well into the Crimson secondary before being stopped.
Another maneuver designed to take advantage of the same weakness was a flashy double-reverse known as the "Sally Rand." The Quakers used it only twice; but the first time it went for a touchdown (from the Harvard 21), and on the other occasion it provided 24 crucial yards in the midst of Penn's second scoring drive.
This was the first time all fall that the Crimson had faced an unbalanced line attack. But it will not be the last. Princeton, of course, operates from behind a similar lineup; and during the coming week the varsity will probably have to put into effect some new defensive patterns.
Alongside the Pennsylvania offense, the Crimson's attack looked very sluggish indeed. The visitors presented a tight seven-man line on defense, which thoroughly stopped the Crimson's guard and tackle slants. Harvard did not seem to have any back fast enough to run the ends in this kind of situation; and when it tried to pass, the accuracy of quarter-backs Charlie Ravenel and Ron Johanson was woefully inadequate.
Ravenel, incidentally, was somewhat shaken up defending against a pass late in the first half; and he did not play at all after this. Tackle Pete Briggs also retired from the game about the same time, with a thigh injury.
The Crimson got its one touchdown after Bill Dean recovered a fumble on the Penn 37. Chet Boulris took a pitchout from Johanson and passed to right end Stu Hershon, who then ran to the 3. Boulris scored on the next play.
All this transpired before the second half was one minute old, and it temporarily moved the varsity to within one touchdown (13-6) of the visitors. There was a flicker of hope among Harvard partisans that perhaps a Crimson comeback was impending. This died, however, as the team returned to its stumbling ways soon thereafter.
All in all, it was just one of those days