Two key plays by safety Neil Hurley to halt late Holy Cross drives, and two long completions in an otherwise weak passing attack enabled Harvard to blank Holy Cross, 13-0, before 25,000 fans at the Stadium, where winning opening games is becoming a tradition almost as strong as good halftime shows.
Frank Champi, under great pressure to prove that he can handle the Crimson quarterback job, disappeared among players on the sidelines after two and a half quarters Saturday as he watched Dave Smith direct the team. It wasn't a demotion for Champi though, and coach John Yovicsin says he is still the starting quarterback.
"I felt we should be moving more consistently, so I decided to try a different quarterback," Yovicsin said after the game. "Frank did a lot of things right," he added. Bruce Freeman, an offensive end, said, "The same plays just seemed to start working when Dave came in."
Late in the third quarter, just after the Crimson had taken a 13-0 lead, Holy Cross, with two first downs under its belt, started its first real drive of the day. Reserve quarterback Howie Burke, finding the Harvard line a bit too stubborn, the tiem short, and mindful of words from coach. Tom Yewcie atop the field, started to throw passes or semblances thereof.
Three of the passes, however were complete, and the Crusaders marched from their 27-yard line to the Crimson 32, where sophomore Burke on, third down, decided to throw one more time. End Pete Stratton was intended receiver at the 10-yard line, and the pass was on target, but Hurley went up with Stratton to knock the ball away, and Holy Cross punted.
The Crusaders halted the Crimson's next two attempts to mount a long drive, and with ten minutes left in the game, started a series on their own 46. A 12-yard pass to Jim McClowry and a 19-yard run by Steve Jutras helped move the ball to the Crimson 14.
Stratton ran a short buttonhook on the Burke. But Hurley stepped in front of him to intercept easily and virtually end any hopes Holy Cross had of winning.
The Harvard offense showed definite
signs of being the dependable unit that preseason predicters thought it would be, left side and waited for the pass from but a number of small errors prevented it from moving with the consistency necessary to score often and to please Yovicsin.
The experienced line opened up impressive holes, and the backs had little trouble finding them and making good cuts. One obvious weakness was the passing game, though it accounted for the bulk of the yardage on both scoring drives. Harvard's three quarterbacks threw the ball 17 times, but only on six occasions were they caught by intended receivers.
In the second quarter, Champl, who had trouble with accuacy, called for a pass on second down, a rarity for the Crimson. Harvard was at the Holy Cross 44, and Champi dropped back, luxuriating in the usual great protection, and threw a perfect pass to Pete Varney, lumbering along one step ahead of Steve Geratowski, who dragged him down at the eight yard line.
John Ballantyne moved it two yards closer, and then Tom Miller carried it over for the touchdown.
Ray Hornblower, who Irad a superb day, threw a pass on the option play in the third quarter which lauded right in the hands of Ballantyne in the end zone. The pass, which went 33 yards, was at the expense of Jaffe Dickerson, whom Ballantyne beat by one step.
Hornblower gained 116 yards and seems to be on his way to the first successful start in three seasons, He picked up most of his yardage on end sweeps, which were just too well executed for Holy Cross to stop.
The Harvard defense, which is less experienced than the offense, was reason for encouragement though there is still work to be done. Yoviesin was particularly pleased with the play of Gary Farneti, captain John Gramer, Rick Frisbie, and Vic Piotrowski.