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It's getting late in the football season. Hour exams suddenly appear to shatter the calm of the reading-period scholar, a wintry breeze rattles the bare branches of the trees in the Yard, and the Harvards are playing the Princetons for the 55th time at Palmer Stadium in Princeton today.
The game is always important. It's the first in the Big Three series, which the Crimson swept last year enroute to a share of the Ivy League crown. This season Harvard has lost two of its four League games and--barring a miracle--is out of the running. But the Tigers have only lost to Cornell in four games and remain the only team with a chance to catch the rampant Dartmouth Indians. Princeton must win today to keep its flickering hopes alive.
After the Crimson's feeble performance against Dartmouth two weeks ago, it seemed the varsity's best defense against the swift Princeton backfield would surely be prayer. But John Yovicsin's outfit turned in its top performance of the year in routing Penn, 36-0, last weak in the rain and the cold. And the talk this week where the faithful gather has been cautiously optimistic.
The chief cause for the talk is the way the Crimson defense succeeded in smothering Penn. Yovicsin was particularly encouraged by the play of his linebackers, which was noticeably deficient the week before. He said earlier this week that if the defense could hold the explosive Princeton attack to two touchdowns, the Crimson would be in good shape. Before the Penn game such a hope would have been sheer folly--Princeton ranks 11th in the country in total offense--but now it is clearly within the realm of possibility.
Princeton has an amazing backfield led by tailback Greg Riley. Riley weighs only 165 pounds, but he's one of the fastest backs in the East and has gained 456 yards in 92 attempts so far this year. Riley, a senior from Rochester, N.Y., also has completed 21 of 42 passes and leads the Ivy League in total offense.
The two other offensive threats in the Princeton singlewing attack are genuine stars in their own right. Wingback Dan Terpack is the captain, and a fine runner and pass receiver. Fullback Bill Merlini provides the power. The fourth member of the backfield, quaterback John Henrich, is considered by many the outstanding blocker in the league.
Behind this foursome are tailbacks Pete Porietis and Hugh McMillan, wingback Dan Rockenbach, and fullback Cosmo Lacavazzi. Porietis is third among the Ivies in rushing and Lacavazzi is second in scoring, primarily on the strength of three touchdowns scored in a losing effort against Cornell.
Princeton's line is considered vulnerable, but at left guard it has an All-Ivy candidate in Tim Caliard. Caliard is highly mobile for an interior lineman, and pulls out exceptionally well to lead the blocking for Riley and company. The Tigers were strengthened last week by the return of their top flight end, Barry Schumann, who caught the pass two years ago that sunk the Crimson in their last Palmer Stadium visit.
Harvard is having its trouble putting together a line. Sophomore John Vinton, normally a tackle, has been shifted to right guard and will start in place of the injured Charlie Kessler. Walt Dobrzelecki is still not at top speed and Ernie Zissis will play with the first unit at left guard.
Second string center Joe Minotti is running at offensive guard, with sophomore Gene Skowronski set to take over as a linebacker. Center Brad Stephens is now backed by Jim Beery and John O'Brien. The tackles are still Ed Smith and Dick Diehl, and the ends Dave Hudepohl and Pat Young.
The first team backfield again includes quarterback Mike Bassett, fullback Bill Grana, and halfbacks Hobie Armstrong and Bill Taylor. Both Grana and Armstrong started to move for the first time against Penn, and with those two running well, the Crimson is going to be mighty hard to contain.
The second backfield is directed by Terry Bartolet, now settling down after a jittery start. Halfback Scott Harshberger's knee has responded to treatment and he will team with sophomore Tom Bilodean. The fullback is Fred Bartl. Bill Humenuk, who came off the bench last year as a sophomore to engineer the Crimson's winning touchdown march, is also available.
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