Like Snow White after she was kissed by Prince Charming, the Harvard offense suddenly rejoined the living late in the third period Saturday when Rutgers safety man Chester Ward graciously fumbled a punt on his own 24. A dull, bruising stand-off was quickly turned into a rout and the Crimson scored three times within 12 minutes to crush the Scarlet Knights, 28-0.
The key question is what was the poisoned apple that turned the Crimson into a soggy, lethargic outfit shortly after Wally Grant scored Harvard's first touchdown on its initial play from scrimmage.
Over-confidence, perhaps according to coach John Yovicsin, Rutgers' shifty defenses and hard line charges had the Crimson off-balance most of the afternoon. Despite the score, Harvard did not produce a sustained drive all day.
The Crimson defense, too, was not quite as sharp as it had been against Massachusetts. The end play, particularly by Tom Stephenson and Ken Boyds, was superb. But the middle of the line was getting pussed around, giving linebackers Brad Stephens and Walt Dobrzelecki a chance to make a large share of the tackles.
The most encouraging note during the warm and sunny afternoon was struck by Harvard's second and third string units, which scored two touchdowns in the final period. Such depth is unusual in the Ivy League, and if Yovicsin can count on his reserves for steady performances the future could be a happy one for the Crimson.
Harvard started the game in most un-hospitable fashion. Following Jerry Mechling's kick-off, Stephens and Rick Beizer slammed down Rutgers' runners for minimal gains, and when a third down pass failed, Bill Brendel kicked for the Knights. The wobbly boot was not aided by an interference penalty, and the Crimson took over on the Rutgers 34.
Quarterback Mike Bassett immediately attacked the Knights' undermanned end corps. He pitched out to Wally Grant on a power sweep to the right, and when Bill Grana threw a block the swift sophomore was free. Stephenson came across field to dispatch the last defender, and Grant had his first varsity touchdown. John Hartranft kicked the first of his Three extra points, and the score was 7-0 with only 1:54 elapsed in the game.
With the flashy but inconsistent Dave Stout at quarterback, Rutgers made one first down and kicked again. This started an almost interminable exchange of punts between Brendel and the Crimson's sophomore kicker, Jim Gahan. The penalty seemed to be the most potent offensive weapon as the game lumbered into the second quarter.
In the middle of the quarter Rutgers made its one serious bid to score: Gahan's punt was partially blocked, and downed on the Crimson 43. Six runs and a short pass produced a first down on the Harvard 23, and the Rutgers line was outfighting the Crimson at every turn.
Unmannerly yawns were being stified all over the stands until Gahan kicked late in the third period to Ward. The ball bounced off his chest and into the hands of the onrushing Tom Bilodeau on the 29 yard line.
Two first downs put Harvard on the three. Harshbarger, who gained 45 yards during the afternoon, moving it to the one in two tries. On the third straight off-tackle play Grant sped through the right side for the touchdown. Hartranft again converted.
Several punts later Harvard took over on the Rutgers 46. Jerry Mechling, a wiry junior, was at quarterback. On the second play halfback John Dockery ran off-tackle for 29 yards to the Rutgers 14. Fullback Lloyd MacDonald made eight, and after Poe was stopped, Mechling raced around end for his first varsity touchdown.
The crowd of 12,500, almost asleep minutes before, was now moderately agitated. The defense held, and the Crimson received a Brendel punt on his own 48. Senior Bill Humenuk took over at quarterback and completed a sharp pass to end Chip Gray.
After Bob Stringer made the first down, Humenuk engineered the prettiest play of the game. Fading back from the Rutgers 38, Humenuk tossed a perfect pass to speedy sophomore Dave Poe, who caught it at the 13 and skipped into the end zone. Roger Noback, another sophomore, got into the act by kicking the extra point.
For all the last-minute heroics and the large score, the Crimson was not overly-impressive. The line play will have to be crisper, and the offense more imaginative, when the Ivy League season commences againnst powerful Cornell next week.
Six Ivy teams played league games. The big surprise was Dartmouth's solid 28-0 victory over Penn, who was showing signs of nascent strength. Princetou, which Rutgers coach John Bateman termed "not as good as last year," edged Columbia and wonder boy Archie Roberts, 7-6. Yale took it in the neck from Brown, 12-7, and could very well not win a game all season. What a pity