A week before, Dartmouth had shut out Yale, holding John Pagliaro to 62 yards on 41 carries. Earlier in the season, Harvard had averaged just one yard per carry over a two-game stretch. The starting Crimson backfield--Larry Brown, Chris Doherty, Jon Sigillito and Ralph Polillio--had a collective career total of 145 yards rushing before this season. And it was raining.
So Harvard went nowhere on the ground against the Big Green, right? Wrong. With the starting backfield slashing for 225 yards and Doherty taking individual honors with 92, the Crimson rolled for an average five yards a carry and scored more points against Dartmouth than any Cantabridgian contingent since 1893.
The bottom line was that the offensive line put it together for the first time since early last season. "When you looked at the films," Brown said, speaking of previous games, "you could see that there were individual breakdowns in the line, and one minor breakdown is enough to destroy the play. All we did against Dartmouth was eliminate our own mistakes."
"We got half-decent blocking, and we just hadn't gotten that before," Crimson coach Joe Restic said yesterday. But there was more to it than that.
"Larry Brown has improved tremendously since he took over," the coach explained. "His execution has gotten better game by game, and we've been able to do more things, put some pressure on people."
So Saturday's success was more than a matter of doing the same old things better than before. Dartmouth proved against Yale a week ago that a football team has got to be flexible. Carm Cozza's charges have been lining up in that Power I for years, daring the opposition to stop them. Harvard took Ivy League titles in 1974 and 1975 by doing just that, throwing the whole defense against the Eli running game and holding that line.
Sometimes it doesn't work, of course--like last fall when Pagliaro finally started to break through in the second half and Yale romped, 21-7. Yale tried the same thing last weekend against the Big Green. But even after 40 carries, Pagliaro was still going nowhere and Yale had lost, 3-0.
Dartmouth was looking for more of the same Saturday, so Harvard stayed flexible. The visitors expected the Crimson to run to the outside, so Harvard attacked the inside and the blocking backs took advantage of the over-aggressiveness of the Dartmouth linebackers to ride them out of the play.
When the Woodsmen adjusted, so did Harvard, swinging back to the outside to run up more points against the visitors than any Crimson squad in this century. The advantages of flexibility, indeed.
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