As it has always done during its short spend of 263 years, Yale tried to follow Harvard's example Saturday. But the Elis are destined for failure in such futile attempts, and Saturday the Yale football team lost to an excellent Harvard eleven, 18-14.
Twice Harvard scored and twice Yale emulated the successful Crimson. But in the second half, the Elis carried their imitation too far, copying the mistakes the Crimson had made earlier in the game. A Yale fumble, three penalties, and a pass interception combined to ensure that Bobby Leo's 46-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter would provide Harvard's margin of victory.
After the game, coach John Yovicsin called it "without question the team's best effort of the season." Few Harvard followrs would dispute him. Certainly none would who had watched a Crimson eleven put together a first quarter 72-yard touchdown march of 16 plays without a fumble or miscue.
The statistics back up Yovicsini's appraisal. The varsity gained 329 yards, its best output of the season. And the 257 yards on the ground is the Crimson's best since its first game of the season, against Massachusetts.
Harvard looked ordinated Saturday, making fewer mistakes than it has in a long time. The Crimson lost only one fumble and had only one pass intercepted. Stan Yastrzemski turned in the best game of his college career, more than doubling his season rushing total with 85 yards gained.
Paul Guzzi easily earned defensive honors as he intercepted two passes and was in on tackle after tackle. Yet the linework of Chuck Reisechel, John Hoffman, Frank Ulcickas, and Paul Barringer consistently frustrated Yale's ground game.
One mystery remains unsolved. One of the critical plays of the game came in the middle of the third quarter. Yale had driven to the Harvard nine-yard line where it had a fourth and two. McCarthy faded to pass and was dropped for a six-yard loss by Jim Driscoll and Hoffman. But the Eli coach John Pont claimed the Crimson has 12 men on the field. The officials disagreed, but only the movies will tell for sure.
Pont was none too happy after The Game, particularly about the Eli's costly mistakes in the second half. Pont shook his head quietly at a clipping penalty incurred after a play was over and a bobbled pass that was intercepted-both in the fourth quarter.
But Yovicsin could have pointed to Yale's second touchdown, a gift of huge proportions. With only seconds to go in the half. Harvard had the ball on its own four. McCluskey tried to change signals at the line of scrimmage and fumbled the center snap. Chris Beutler recovered for Yale, and McCarthy ran the ball in six second, later for the Elis' second, and last, touchdown.
The Crimson went into the fourth quarter behind, 14-12, but in possession of the ball. Although it needed momentum, it immediately came up against a third and three on the Harvard 47.
McCluskey sent halfback Bobby Leo off right guard, and Leo got the first down easily. Two plays later, Harvard found itself with another third down situation, but now it needed seven yards. Again McCluskey turned to Leo, and again Bobby got the seven yards, this time with about 40 yards to spare. He picked up key blocks from McCluskey, Berdik, and Barringer and romped into the end zone with the winning touchdown.
The earlier scores han't come quite so quickly. In the first quarter Yasztremski and Wally Grant alternated on line bucks and off-tackle plays to drive well into Yale territory before the end of the first period. And on the second play of the second period Grant raced around left end and dived into the corner of the end zone for the score. Maury Dullea's kick was off to the right.
Yale responded with its only sustained drive of the afternoon. McCarthy connected on two long passes, one for 26 yards, the other for 20. In less than five minutes the Elis were on the scoreboard with seven points and the lead.
Guzzi's first interception, eight plays later, put Harvard on the Yale 34. The Crimson covered the distance on the ground, and McCluskey took the ball into the endzone from eight yards out.
At the outset, The Game betrayed nothing of the fine effort to come. It looked like a depressingly typical Ivy contest. Yale's Jim Howard took Jerry Mechling's opening kickoff at the 3 and ran up the middle of the field through innumerable missed tackles to the Eli 27, where Steve Diamond finally brought him down.
Two plays later Yale end Landon Carter lost the Harvard defender only to have Ed McCarthy's pass bounce off his chest. But the Crimson could do no better. After it had penetrated to the Yale 29, Bobby Leo raced through the Yale secondary and was wide open at the Yale fiveyard line only to have John McCluskey's pass intercepted.
Yovicsin couldn't keep a smile off his face during the post-game press conference. But when Pont observed that Harvard's entire backfield would return next year, "and that scares the hell out of me," Yovvy managed the barest flicker of a frown.
It was really too early to think about next year, though. His team had just beaten Yale for the third time in four years and won second place in the Ivy League. Point, on the other hand, was clearly thinking about next year as he glowered through the press conference.
And yet it will all be the same next year.