Harvard's hopes for an Ivy title on its grid centennial received a damaging blow yesterday with the announcement that tight end Peter Curtin will be sidelined for at least six weeks.
Curtin underwent surgery yesterday at New England Baptist Hospital to repair a ruptured tendon in his left hand's ring finger. Curtin sustained the injury Saturday during a dual scrimmage against Brown and the University of New Hampshire when he grabbed an opponent's jersey.
Curtin figured to play a key role in the Crimson's offensive attack this season. Last year, the 6 ft. 5 in., 225-1b. receiver snagged 26 catches for 373 yards, best among Ivy League tight ends and best ever for a Harvard tight end.
The 26 receptions marked the third-highest season total in Harvard pass-catching history, placing Curtin behind split ends Pat McInally and Carter Lord '68.
"Behind McInally:" If there were a theme song to be sung about Curtin's illustrious grid career at Harvard, that would be it.
Curtin, tabbed by 60 Boylston St. press brochures as "possibly the best-ever for Harvard" at tight end in 100 years, has played in the shadow of All-American McInally for three years.
Street and Smith's Yearbook, the college football fanatic's right arm, summed Harvard's chances up thusly: "Stepladder receiver McInally will set more receiving marks . . . Tight end Pete Curtin is a suitable mate."
Other preseason prognosticators, Sports Illustrated among them, have written of McInally, but ignored Curtin.
One person who didn't (and couldn't) ignore the Orchard Park, N.Y., product was 1973 quarterback Jim Stoeckel. When teams double-and triple-teamed McInally last year, Stoeckel countered by turning to Curtin as his primary receiver.
Together, McInally and Curtin constituted the best double-threat pass receiving duo in the East. But with Curtin out of the picture this year's field marshal, Milt Holt, may have to rely solely on his split end in his aerial attack.
In addition, head coach Joe Restic said yesterday, the Crimson offensive line and running game will miss Curtin's big blocking frame on off-tackle runs and end-sweeps.
"It was a tough loss," Restic said. "This will put a lot of pressure on the whole offense and Pat in particular. Pete was a key prime receiver and a big blocker in the running game. The worst thing about it is we have no one to replace him."
Curtin, an English major and premed candidate, was All-Western New York at Canisius High School in 1970. He played football, basketball and baseball for three years there.