Ten Years Ago

1968: Winning Wasn't Everything...


Dowling, undaunted, then mustered his charisma and intensity to produce Yale's final touchdown with less than 11 minutes remaining in the contest. He drove his charges Hill, Marting, end Bruce Weinstein, and fullback Bob Levin, down the field in eight plays, punctuating the apparent victory with a five-yard run for the score.

Yale coach Carmen Cozza then sent in Bayless to kick the point after touchdown. Cozza explained later that "After the third touchdown I figured two points would put it out of reach. After the fourth touchdown I figured 'What difference does it make?' There was no way they could come back. No way they could win."

That was with 10:44 to play. For the next 602 seconds Cozza was indeed a prophet, but then again, no human could have foretold the hysteria of those final 42 ticks of the Stadium clock.

It all actually started earlier. With 3:41 remaining and Yale commanding things at the Harvard 32. Dowling flipped a screen pass to Hill, who responded with Yale's fifth fumble of the contest, this one retreived by Harvard's Steve Ranere at the 14.

Champi propelled the Crimson 86 yards in the ensuing nine plays, the key play being tackle Fritz Reed's advancing of a lateral fumble from the Yale 32 to the 15.

The clock continued to move with a minute left. Champi dropped back, looked for an open man, found no one, tried to lateral but couldn't, scramble, then finally threw to his right, where Freeman was open at the three and took it in untouched for Harvard's third score. A Yale penalty gave the Crimson a second chance on the conversion, and Crim made good with a run over center that made it 29-21.

The shadows of late afternoon framed "00:42" and the eight-point deficit when Champi escorted himself and his stage into the ranks of the unforgettable.

Act One: The onsides kick. Ken Thomas cuts across from the left and kicks the expected ten-yarder that conjectures its way off a Yale player and into the recovering grasp of Bill Kelly at the Yale 49. (Note--Elapsed time: 0 seconds).

Act Two: The Face Mask. On first down Champi sweeps left to the 35, where he is popped hard by Eli linebacker Andy Coe. Teammate Bouscaret is then called with a face-mask penalty, which brings the ball to the 20. Harvard takes a time out. Thirty-two seconds are left.

Act Three: The draw play. After two T-formation pitch passes are incomplete (both were intended for Freeman at the three), Champi is faced with third-and-ten at the 20, 0:20 to go.

Gatto enters, and though hobbled by a sore leg, splits right as a flanker and draws double coverage. Champi gambles, gives the ball to Crim on a draw play, and the fullback breaks it to the six, where he is brought down by Ron Kell. Harvard calls its second time out. Fourteen seconds remain.

Act Four: Fall goeth before Pride. On first down Champi drops back and scrambles in search of a receiver until Yale defensive end Jim Gallagher spills him at the eight for a two-yard loss. Champi's fruitless search takes 11 seconds. 0:03. It translates to one play.

Champi takes the snap. He scrambles right. He scrambles left. He tries to lateral. He then spots Gatto, open between two defenders in the left endzone.

The Harvard captain buries Champi's fastball in his midsection. The Harvard fans greet their premature Lazarus by storming the endzone. It is only 29-27. The conversion remains.

Act Five: Resurrection, Glory and Immortality. The field is cleared just long enough for Champi to step back and rifle the ball left to sophomore Peter Varney at the goal line. It may well be the most crisp, least frantic Champi-orchestrated call of the afternoon. Whatever, exeunt omnes.

AN 11-YEAR-OLD BOY sitting deep in the endzone stained the blue felt of his Yale pennant with tears of disbelief. Brain Dowling called it "the only game I ever lost at Yale." John Yovicsin said he never gave up on his team, while some players noted he had virtually conceded in the lockerroom at halftime. The Harvard Crimson held off the "Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29" headline until the Monday edition. The Saturday extra after the game was curt--. "Harvard, Yale Draw, 29-29."

Life went on. The world began to spin again. 1968 closed quietly in comparison, and gave way to the softer tremors of 1969 and the '70s.

The Game also went on. Still in upper case letters, still each November entered into the microcosmic sporting tradition of the Harvards and the Yales. And as each Game passed, the distance grew between the oasis and the desert lined with generations of tailgate picnics.

29-29. It is a score that stands secure upon its own pedestal from now throughout eternity. We look back ten years ago today and see it, recall it. We look ahead and find nothing like it. Amen

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