Parlaying an unexpectedly effective first-half attack with a profusion of Harvard mistakes, underdog Penn fought the embarrassed Crimson to a 10-10 tie Saturday in Philadelphia.
In the second half, Harvard's defense choked off the running of Bill McGill, who picked up 108 yards on the ground in place of the injured Bruce Molloy, and the short passing of quarterback Pete Wisniewski. But despite threat after threat on the Quaker goal line, the Crimson could manage only a game-saving field goal.
The tie damaged more than Harvard's record and pride. Star halfback Bobby Leo, who led the Crimson with a total of 89 yards rushing, pulled a hamstring muscle and will miss at least the Princeton game next Saturday.
However, the game probably won't be remembered for Harvard's poor play or for Penn's competence, but for a weird call on a weird play that led to a Quaker field goal and ultimately to the tie.
Midway in the second period, with the game tied 7-7, a Harvard threat set up by Dave Poe's 33-yard punt return stalled at the Penn 18, and Maury Dullea came in to try a field goal.
Before Dullea could get the ball off, Penn's Tom Owen hurtled in to block the attempt. As the loose ball bounced away, the Quakers' Denny Lynch gave it a tremendous kick that sent it skipping far downfield to the Harvard 33, where Lynch caught up with it and fell on it.
Kicking the ball, if intentional, is illegal and calls for a 15 yard penalty, but the officials somehow managed to rule that Lynch had slammed the ball over 30 yards entirely by accident, and they awarded Penn possession on the Crimson 33.
After the Harvard line smothered the Penn attack at the 15, the Quakers' Carl Henderson booted a 31-yard field goal that gave the Pennsylvanians a 10-7 halftime lead.
In the second half, Harvard bulled its way deep into Penn territory a full five times but never managed to score the single touchdown needed to pull the game out.
After receiving the kickoff to start the second half, the Crimson went from its own 30 all the way to the Penn nine, with the biggest gain in the drive a 19-yard pass from John McCluskey to Wally Grant.
On third and one at the nine, McCluskey caught the Penn defense off balance, called an option play -- and then pitched the ball five feet behind Tom Choquette. Choquette recovered for a nine-yard loss, and Dullea had to be called on to try, and miss, a 36-yard field goal.
But the Quakers had to punt almost immediately, and McCluskey started throwing from the Penn 39. He fired a strike to Carter Lord, who let the ball pop up in the air for an incompletion. After Grant and Leo ran for a first down at the 26. McCluskey hit Grant, who let the ball glance off his fingers, and Lord, who also dropped it.
Just when you were starting to suspect that the Harvard receivers couldn't catch a cold during the Black Plague, Dullea returned and lofted a 38-yard field goal that hit the crossbar and flopped over to tie the game.