Saturday was no day for football. Ask any of the 5000 spectators who sogged through four quarters of the Harvard-BU contest. Ask the stadium vendors who had to sell soggy popcorn. Ask Box Jox, who cancelled on their Crimson football commitment. Ask Boston University coach Larry Navisux.
Especially ask Larry Navisux. It was no day for football and BU's Terriers more than proved it. They fumbled on the first two plays of the game. They fell behind, 31-0, as Harvard scored the first five times the Crimson had the ball. And then, slipping, sliding, and bobbling along, they lost to Harvard, 33-14.
It wasn't football. Maybe "grease-the-pig" or "slitherball," but not football. BU fumbled a dozen times, and Harvard retaliated with five of their own. Seventeen fumbles in four quarters! Even the 30 m.p.h. winds that drove sheets of rain in from the open end of the field couldn't behave it.
The Crimson fared better in the exchange program Saturday. Joe Restic's multiple offense, led by Eric Crone, hydroplane through the first quarter and never had to look back.
It took Crone exactly seven seconds to engineer the first Crimson score. Following Dave St. Pierre's recovery of Warren Collin's fumble. Crone rolled around right end with halfback Mark Wheeler trailing. It was the play that Harvard had opened with against UMass, and, in the season's opener, had netted Wheeler a 71-yard touchdown.
Against the Terriers, though, Crone hung onto the ball and rolled unmolested 11 yards into the end zone. With Bruce Tetirick's conversion, the score jumped to 7-0, and a rout was on.
BU's second series was more successful--the Terriers didn't fumble the ball away--but gained nothing on the scoreboard. The Terriers moved the ball only fifteen yards before being forced to punt.
Harvard, with Crone in control, took over on the Crimson's 23 yard line, and led off again with the Crone-Wheeler option. This time Crone pitched to the halfback, who picked up 18 yards. Thirteen plays and 77 yards later, the Crimson scored again, with Ted DeMars going in from the five.
From then on Harvard scored at will, running up an insurmountable 31-0 lead in a little over a quarter.
Wheeler picked up the third Crimson score at 10: 43 of the first period. Taking a handoff from Crone, Wheeler broke off left tackle, reversed his field, and scored on a twisting 38-yard touchdown scamper through the raindrops.
Harvard squeezed in another score at 14:55 when Tetirick booted a 33-yard field goal after the Crimson defense had forced BU to punt.
Fifty-four seconds later, the Crimson regained control of the football via--you guessed it--a fumble recovery of the kickoff and Harvard scored again. With the ball on BU's 39, Crone rolled out to his right, drawing the wary BU secondary up to defend against the run. Then, spotting DeMars, who had slipped in behind the Terrier defenders, the senior quarterback arched one to his halfback at the 15. Prom there it was clear sailing for the Crimson captain. Harvard 31, BU nothing.
Throughout this first-quarter Crimson onslought, the BU offense could not get its wishbone attack untracked. The Harvard defense, sparked by some crisp tackling by the secondary and strong work up front by Mitch Berger and Sandy Tennant, repeatedly turned back the thrusts.
In the first half, the Terriers' ball handling was even sloppier than the weather. Quarterback Ray Roach couldn't get the team moving, or keep his footing, or hang onto the wet ball. As a result, the Terriers made the Crimson's job a lot easier by stifling their own drives and offensive maneuvers.
After Crone's scoring aerial to DeMars. Restic substituted at will to get a look at some of his younger players. Jimmy Stoeckel took over at quarterback, and with him came an entirely new backfield. But Stoeckel couldn't generate an offense, and the remainder of the half was spent exchanging the football with BU. Neither team showed much, and Stoeckel contented himself with running out the clock.
The second half featured a revival (of sorts) for BU. The Terriers playing sharper defense, and holding onto the football for a change, put together two sustained scoring drives and "won" the half, 14-2. Terrier halfback Roger Harris sparked the BU wishbone with some nifty ball carrying to save the Terriers from a shutout.
Crone came back for a couple series in the third period, but his offensive unit, playing by the BU script, lost the ball both times. Crone's last two appearances were cut short by a fumble and an in terception. From then on Restic alternated Stoeckel, Milt Holt, and Prank Guerra at quarterback, letting his reserves get into the action.
BU finally got on the scoreboard at 3:51 of the third quarter. Harris took a pitchout at the 12-yard line, swept to the left breaking two Harvard tackles and went in for the score. The Terriers' final score came in the final quarter when Collins bucked over from a yard out.
Harvard's final tally of the afternoon came when defensive end Mike McHugh blocked a BU punt and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety. But the two points may prove costly, because on the play, Berger, who is vital to Restic's front four, aggravated an old knee injury and left the game on a stretcher. The extent of his injury will not be known until later this week.
Restic was satisfied with the performance of the Crimson offense despite the seven turnovers it produced.
"I was pleased with the way we jumped off to a quick lead," he said after the game. "Crone's performance gave us more consistency at quarterback than we've seen this year."