It haint no use to grumble and complane
Its jest as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,
W'y rain's my choice. James Whitcomb-Riley
At four in the afternoon last Saturday at an embattled Harvard Stadium, the only people rejoicing were wearing muddy white Cornell uniforms.
God, as seems to be his penchant on football days in Cambridge, had sent rain all right, the Crimson had discovered to its waterlogged regret that the multi-flex finds quagmires offensive (maybe Daniel Ellsberg '52 was right), and by the time the players had retreated from God's showers to those of Dillon, the Big Red had made a real mess of the Ivy race.
For Cornell, its 9-3 triumph means that no, the Big Red will not reach November 14 without a victory. But that's about it, because one got the annoying impression that had Sunday's weather been Saturday's, Cornell would still have scored its nine points, Harvard 39, before the subs entered.
Yet even with the torrential showers and treacherous field conditions, which made ice skates the preferred footgear, a moment of sunshine did appear for the Crimson.
It came with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter, with Cornell clinging to a 2-0 advantage thanks to a first-period safety. Two penalties had pinned Harvard on its own three, and when Jim Kubacki attempted to set matters straight, he lost connections with the pigskin behind the Crimson goal line and could only fall on it for what should have been the lone Big Red points of the afternoon.
Upon receiving the second-half kickoff, however, the Crimson drove far enough downfield to set up a 25-yard Mike Lynch field goal. The 57-yard march was by no means the only time that Kubacki had generated an offense. It's simply that this was the only time when it showed on the scoreboard, as most of the 255 total offensive yards and 18 first downs came between the 20-yard lines. Nothing, in other words, outside the reach of the windshield wipers.
And even though the Crimson couldn't capitalize on a big break a few splashes later, when it recovered a Big Red fumble on the ensuing kickoff (Lynch's 33-yarder was a wide right this time after a drive never got going), it appeared that a 3-2 lead against Cornell in the slop might just be sufficient.
"You hope you're close enough to kick a field goal," Joe Restic said in a semi-stunned, semi-deserted Harvard locker room immediately after the bath. "We were, and we even had a second choice. But we did it [kick the first field goal]. Three to two should be it. The field goal should be enough."
But that's where Restic was wrong.
For with ten minutes or so remaining in the game, the Cornell punter, unheroically entitled Dave Johnson, stood gasping for air inside his 15-yard line. Had the snap from center taken too long, Johnson might have sunk into the stadium and never resurfaced, but the football arrived on time, albeit a trifle high.
Johnson had to go airborne to retrieve it, but when he came down he quickly realized that he had as much chance of getting off a good kick as the Wicked Witch of the West did when Dorothy hurled the bucket of water.