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Just before the Game today, the loudspeaker annoucned that President Kennedy had declined to make the trip to Cambridge from Hyannis Port. Yale's provincial stands went wild with jubilation.
This was one of the few happy moments of the afternoon for the Yale faithful, however, as Harvard's seldom yielding football varsity swept past the inconsistent Eli team, 14 to 6. The victory gave Harvard its second 6-3 season in a row, and its third Big Three Championship in four years.
Beating Yale is always fun, and especially so when the victory does not come so easily. Today's triumph, Harvard's 28th in the 79-game series, was no simple affair. The Elis were, as expected, a tough defensive team, and quarterback Mike Bassett had to search hard for openings.
The Game, played in chilling weather, had all the pageantry traditional in these contests. Alumni reunion tents dotted the stadium area, and the capacity crowd of 39,000 enjoyed a splendid pre-game and halftime presentation by the Harvard Band.
Harvard won the toss and elected to receive, but could not use the ball to advantage. After three inconclusive plays, Bill Taylor was forced to punt.
The Elis received the ball on their own 40 and advanced to the Harvard 34 before trying a field goal, which was unsuccessful. The Crimson seemed stopped, but a roughing penalty on Taylor's punt gave Harvard a second chance.
Handling the ball brilliantly, Mike Basset pitched to Hobie Armstrong, who handed the ball to Taylor on a double reverse. Taylor gained a few yards before being trapped, and then flipped to Bassett on his left.
This play, good for 14 yards, was followed by a 15-yard romp by fullback Bill Grana. Armstrong and Taylor kept up the pace with short off-tackle slants, and Harvard seemed headed for a score.
Then, running from the 15, Armstrong fought his way to the Yale five, only to fumble dramatically. Stan Thomas recovered for Yale, ending the threat.
Aided by an offsides penalty, the Elis were able to pick up a first down but no more. The Crimson took over the ball at midfield as the first period ended.
After Taylor's punt and Harvard's steadily toughening line kept the Yalies safely on their own turf, the Crimson got down to business.
Going 60 yards in 11 plays. Harvard gained its first touchdown with seven minutes gone in the second period. Halfback Taylor was the man who did most of the work.
His first contribution was a spectacular sideline catch of a 15-yard Bassett pass. A minute later he took a pitchout from Armstrong on a double reverse pattern, to twist and spin his way 20 yards to the Yale five. As thunderous roars from the Harvard stands filled the stadium, Taylor finished the job with a five-yard sweep around end. John Hartranft kicked the extra point.
Yale was somewhat surprised when Hartranft Kicked-off all the way to the end zone, but the Elis soon launched a promising offensive. The Bulldogs reached the Harvard 45 on end runs and belly series runs before the Crimson line grew firm.
Although Tim O'Connell dropped back to punt formation, on getting the snap, he began looking for receivers. He spotted one, but unfortuantely for Yale, the man was illegally downfield.
Harvard, however, held the ball for only four plays, and Taylor once again punted. Using a well-executed draw play, Yale gained a menacing number of yards, but linebacker Brad Stephens' tackles and the clock, which ran out, prevented any serious damage. The half ended with Harvard prevailing,7-0.
The complexion of the game changed sharply in the third period. No one knows what Eli coach Jordan Olivar told his boys at halftime, but whatever he said, it worked.
The Bulldog defensive became suddenly restrictive, and their offense began to click Harvard received the kick, but despite a fine runback by Armstrong, made little progress Taylor's punt was short, and the Elis got the ball for the first time of the half at their 40.
Captain Higdon gained some yardage, on off-tackle runs, but it was not enough to allow the Elis to hold the ball for long.
Bill Taylor continued to demonstrate why he belongs on the All-Ivy starting backfield, as he picked up impressive quantities of yardage on sweeps and cuts through the line. No one else was able to go through, however, so Harvard's drives were abortive.
Late in the quarter, the sun suddenly ducked behind a cloud and so did Harvard's luck. Taylor went 12 yards through guard. Another first down was impossible at this point, though, necessitating yet another punt.
The boot was short, but not disastrously so. The disaster came after the kick. Yale halfback John Cirie took the ball and started to cut to his right. Much to his surprise, and greatly to the astonishment of the stands, no Harvard man came up to block his pass.
In an excellent demonstration of blocking, the Elis completely eliminated the entire Harvard team, giving Cirie ample running room. By the time he had stopped 59 yard later, he had reached the end zone, and Yale was back in contention.
Yale decided to go for two points on the conversion, but quarterback Brian Rapp was trapped deep behind the scrimmage line, allowing Harvard to maintain a slim 7-6 lead.
Hank Hatch returned to kickoff 20 yards to the Harvard 30, and followed this run with another for ten. Armstrong was gang tackled way behind the line, though, stopping the offensive.
Harvard picked up its second touchdown, to the overwhelming relief of its fans, after six minutes of the final period. O'Connell's short punt from his own ten was caught by Scott Harshbarger, who went 15 tortuous yards before being downed on the 17. Two more Harshbarger carries brought the ball within the 10.
Taylor made a valiant attempt to score, but it was second unit fullback Fred Bartl who got the touchdown, breaking through the tackle slot for three yards. Hartranft's kick boosted the Crimson margin to 14-6.
A Yale fumble on their first play after the kickoff returned the ball to Crimson hands. Taylor and Armstrong penetrated the Yale lines for gains of ten and eight yards respectively, putting the ball on the Bulldog six. A holding penalty cancelled a touchdown run, and Hartranft's field goal attempt was short. Taylor, after a magnificent afternoon, left the game on a stretcher with a leg injury, but the victory, thanks to his exemplary efforts, was by that time secure.
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