The Harvard-Dartmouth series began in 1882, when the Crimson defeated the Indians, 4 goals and 19 touchdowns to 0. Nineteen years elapsed before the Big Green scored against a Harvard team, and it was 21 years after the opening encounter that Dartmouth finally downed a Crimson eleven.
In 1882, Harvard was on the verge of football greatness. The years intervening between the first contest with Dartmouth and the first loss to the Big Green saw the Crimson develop into one of the foremost gridiron powers in the country. Harvard-Dartmouth scores ran as follows: 29 to 0, 70 to 0, 74 to 0, 38 to 0, 43 to 0, 64 to 0, 16 to 0, 48 to 0, 16 to 0, 36 to 0, 22 to 0, 4 to 0, 13 to 0, 21 to 0, 11 to 0, 27 to 12, 16 to 6, and finally, in 1903, Dartmouth 11, Harvard 0.
As the Harvard Daily Herald explained on Friday, Nov. 10, 1882: "The Dartmouth men naturally grew very discouraged at the up-hill game they were forced to play and often made feeble attempts to tackle their opponents as they repeatedly broke through the rush line. . .Nearly the entire game was played inside the Dartmouth twenty-five yard line."
In the first game ever played in Harvard Stadium, on Nov. 16, 1903, the Crimson suffered its first beating at the hands of a Dartmouth eleven. The Indians took a 6-0 lead on a touchdown and conversion after five minutes of the first quarter, and held the varsity on even terms until they pushed over another touchdown late in the fourth period. It was not a particularly good year for the Crimson; the team lost to Yale that fall, 16 to 0.
From 1904 to 1907, the varsity managed to emerge with a win, a loss, and two ties. In 1908, Percy Haughton took command of the Crimson's football fortunes, and Harvard embarked on an era of renewed gridiron prominence. That fall the Crimson edged the Green, 6 to 0, and the next two clashes saw the varsity's margin grow to nine, and then 18 points.
Dartmouth gave the Crimson a scare in 1911, holding the powerful varsity to one touchdown in a 5-3 Harvard triumph. In 1911, the varsity suffered its third defeat under Haughton's coaching, as it dropped an 18-15 decision to the Carlisle Indians, led that season by the immortal Jim Thorpe. The big Indian ran well against a tough Harvard line, and drop-kicked four field goals and one conversion to give the Carlisle eleven its winning margin.
Drop-kicking played an important role in the 1912 Dartmouth game. Charley Brickley, probably the greatest kicker in the history of Harvard football, split the uprights in the third quarter from seven yards away, for the only three points scored in the entire contest. Nor was Brickley merely a field goal specialist; he rushed for 68 of the Crimson's 190 yards on the ground.
A ten-lapse lapse followed, until 1922, when the Crimson took up where it had stopped with a 12-3 victory over the Big Green. Dartmouth came back to win the next three encounters, achieving a decisive 32-9 triumph in 1925. The two teams split the next six games.
One of the more sensational contests in this long series was the 50th anniversary meeting in 1932. A fired-up Big Green squad played the Crimson to a standstill for most of the game. Harvard's winning break came on the second-half kickoff, when Carl Pescosolido produced a 93-yard runback to provide the decisive tally in a 10-7 victory. As the Crimson put it, "Outrushed, outpassed, and outplayed by the Indians, the Harvard Varsity football team left the Stadium with a whole scalp only by providential intervention . . ."
After a tie in 1933, the Crimson dropped seven straight games to the Indians, who were beginning to take their football more seriously. In 1941 and 1942, the rivals exchanged wins, before the war years intervened.
In 1946, the Harvard-Dartmouth game was played in Hanover for the first time in 62 years, with the Crimson winning, 21 to 7. Five consecutive Green victories ensued, as Harvard football sank to its lowest ebb. Then the Crimson countered with two triumphs in a row, by scores of 26 to 19 and 20 to 14, before the Indians reversed the trend by scoring a 13-7 win in 1954.
For the third time in 73 seasons, the Crimson met Dartmouth in Hanover in 1955. Although the Crimson was strongly favored over the winless Indian eleven, the Green broke a string of 71 years without a home victory over Harvard with a stunning 14-9 upset. One of the wildest weekends in Dartmouth history resulted.
One week after absorbing a last-quarter, 26-20 defeat by Columbia, the varsity reared back to whip a strong Green eleven, 28 to 21, in 1956. The next fall, Harvard succumbed to the paralyzing Dartmouth offense led by halfbacks Jim Burke and Jake Crouthamel and lost, 26 to 0. Nevertheless, Crimson adherents could claim a larger victory in 1957--a glorious triumph in the Battle of the Big Drum. It was in that year that a group of Dartmouth students nearly succeeded in hauling away the Band's big brass drum, only to be halted by Band members wielding trumpets, tubas, and whatever else they could lay their hands on.
The Crimson entered the 1958 Dartmouth contest with faint hope. The Indians were a powerful aggregation, having lost only to Holy Cross and destined to become Ivy League champions. It seemed that the varsity, having won two in a row, had gone about as far as a Harvard team can go.
Quarterback Bill Gundy of the Indians circled left end for six points early in the second quarter, and he threw to Burke in the end zone for two more. The game seemed to be going just about as predicted. But Crimson halfback Chet Boulris returned the second-half kickoff to his own 43, and from there quarterback Charlie Ravenel led a 57-yard touch-down march. Ravenel himself went over from the one-yard line on a fourth down play. The spectators in the stands anxiously awaited the Dartmouth counter-attack.
With ten minutes gone in the fourth quarter, however, varsity end Hank Keohane intercepted a Dartmouth pass on the Green 16, and three plays later Boulris bulled over from the five for the Crimson's winning score. The varsity's triple-threat halfback added the two points, and Harvard had only to hold off the Indians for 4:20 to clinch its most exciting win in many years. Coach John Yovicsin got a free ride to the locker room after the game.
This year, the 1958 positions are reversed. The varsity, with its 1-1 League record, still has a shot at the Ivy title, while the Big Green has yet to win. Gundy will severely try the Crimson pass defense, and Crouthamel's running will keep the varsity honest. The 75-year old rivalry stands at 35 wins for Harvard, 24 for Dartmouth, and three ties. It will take the Crimson's best showing of the season to make it 36 today.