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Harvard football coach John Yoviesin sat alone in a deserted section of the Crimson locker room last Saturday afternoon, just staring at the floor and wondering what had happened. His football team has just been humiliated by a squad that had not won an Ivy game all season, and that had not defeated a Harvard team since 1959.
What was absurd even to think about last September happened all too realistically at Providence last Saturday. Brown overrunning a Crimson defense at will and stopping its offense cold, beat Harvard, 24-17, and left any chance Harvard had of salvaging a winning season lying shattered on the turf at Brown Stadium.
And More Absurd...
What made it all the more absurd was the fact that the Crimson had a realistic chance of winning the game up until the final minute of play, even though the Bruins humbled Harvard statistically all afternoon. Without gaining even as much as 50 yards total offense, the Crimson had left the field at halftime with a 17-14 lead, and not until it gave Brown the ball twice in the final three minutes of play, was it a beaten team on the scoreboard.
But Harvard was a beaten team in every other sense even before it boarded the bus for Attleboro Friday evening. The Dartmouth and Princeton losses had created serious doubts about the Crimson's ability both to score and to keep from being scored upon. Saturday afternoon it was hardly apparent that they really cared about winning at all any more.
Dismal But Real
Despite Brown's dismal record, it was clear that the Bruins were capable of a fairly strong offensive performance, and from the second period last weekend Brown posed a very realistic threat of upsetting the Crimson.
But there was no doubt that Brown would not win unless Harvard allowed it to. And the Crimson did precisely that.
For the second time this fall Harvard's offense was unable to put together a single sustained drive, but its defense still saved it from humiliation by springing loose two punt returns, one for a touchdown, and recovering a fumble deep in Brown territory.
But the offense threw the game away, managing to compile only 92 yards passing against a weak Brown secondary that had yielded almost 1000 in its previous seven games, and fumbling seven times, losing the ball on three occasions.
In addition, the ground game picked up only 71 yards against a defense that had allowed over 1600 this fall, and the offensive line watched time and time again as signalcaller Joe Roda and his running backs were dumped for losses or stacked up in a pile at the scrimmage line.
The offense did not deserve all of the blame. The Crimson defensive unit allowed the Bruins 232 yards rushing, an inexcusable amount for a ground game that has done what Brown's has done this year.
The secondary, partly by being caught with its zones split, and partly because of an ineffective pass rush on the part of the line, allowed 13 completions in 20 attempts for 172 yards, marking the second consecutive week that it has been picked apart.
Midway through the first period. Steve Harrison returned a Bruin punt 54 yards to the Brown 9, but Harvard could not score, and Rich Szaro had to come in and boot a 20-yard field goal to salvage the opportunity. But early in the second period, the Bruins marched 68 yards for a touchdown, with Tom Spotts scoring from the 12 on a pass from Chris Burgess, and moments later, returned a Harvard punt to the Crimson 25, scoring again seven plays later.
It was 143 now, and Harvard had amassed one first down, Clearly, the defense would have to score if Harvard was to win, and when Harrison took another punt 52 yards for a touchdown, and John Cramer recovered a fumble soon after at the Brown 10 it was the Dartmouth game all over again.
Fullback John Lukaska dived over from the one yard-line four plays later, and Harvard led at halftime. 17-14.
Harvard went nowhere in the third period, and when Ray Hornblower fumbled on the Crimson 23. Brown moved to the four and kicker Jim Colby booted a field goal to tie the game.
Another Hornblower fumble on the next series gave Brown possession near midfield, and in eight plays, it scored again, with Jim Hughes diving over from one foot away. With time running out. Harvard began to move but Bruin Dave Chenault intercepted a Crimson option pass on the Brown 16 to kill one threat. When Gary Farneti mishandled a blocked Brown punt moments later, he killed the other.
Seconds later. Brown had its first League victory, and Harvard had a little less with which to face a Yale team next Saturday that is sure to want revenge.
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