NEW HAVEN, Ct.--As jubilant Harvard fans ripped the uprights off the Yale bowl goalpost, and ecstatic Crimson football team completed a devastating upset, trampling previously unbeaten Yale, 22-7, for the first Crimson win over the Elis since 1975.
The win ruined Yale's bid for an undefeated season and turned an otherwise dismal 1979 Harvard campaign into a bacchanalian celebration. More than 72,000 fans--the largest Bowl crowd since 1954--streamed onto the field here two seconds before the final gun, mobbing the Harvard players and wreaking havoc in otherwise boring New Haven.
Though Richie Horner, beat by a mediocre afternoon, did not break any of the records he was chasing at the close of his stellar Harvard career this 96th edition of THE GAME was otherwise a total Harvard party right from the start.
The top-rated Yale defense, which has allowed just 523 yds. rushing coming into THE GAME, looked like aged Swiss cheese as Harvard opened its first series after Paul Scheper's kick-off return to the Crimson 25.
Working outside to Al Altieri, Jim Callinan and Jon Hollingsworth, quarterback Burke St. John put together Harvard's best sustained ground drive of the season.
He threw only twice--both times to Richie Horner--once for an incompletion and once for ten yds. and a first down at the Yale 22. St. John kept the ball twice and directed Harvard to the end zone with 5:05 left in the quarter.
Hollingsworth, on second and 4 at the Yale 4-yd. line, bulled his way over the right tackle into paydirt, carrying a host of Eli defenders around his neck.
Dave Cody capped the 13-play, 74-yd. drive with the extra point to give Harvard a 7 to nothing lead. Harvard became the only team all year to score on Yale in the opening quarter, and the only rival to draw first blood.
With the New Havenites in shock, Harvard's defense held the Elis without a first down on the exchange, but Mike Sullivan's hanging punt slipped away from Tom Beatrice, and the Elis grabbed it for a first and 10 at the Harvard 19.
But in the wild and wooly tradition of THE GAME, the Elis lost the ball and a a golden scoring opportunity on a second-down handoff, when Crimson adjuster John Casto grabbed a loose pigskin to regain possession. The Yale defense stiffened, though, and Duke Millard had to punt from his own end zone when the Crimson stalled at the 9-yd. line.
Yale, moving cautiously deep into Harvard territory, faultered when n speedster back Ken Hill lost a Dennis Dunn pitchout and had to smother the loose ball at the Harvard 30. Dave Schwartz's 47-yd. field goal barely reached the goal line, dropping well short of the crossbar.
Just when it looked like Harvard would have to punt the ball away for a second time, a Yale offside penalty on the kick moved Harvard to a first down and a new life. Hollingsworth took a St. John screen pass on second down and eked his way into Eli territory for a 16-yd. gain to the Yale 43.
It looked like the Harvard drive would end rudely when the Yale secondary picked off a St. John pass, but again the jumpy Yalies were offsides and turned the ball back to Harvard.
The penalties proved costly when, on third down and 6 from the Yale 38, St. John hit Callinan with a thread-the-needle aerial down the sidelines and the halfback tip-toed into the end zone with just 25 seconds gone in the second quarter. The 70-yd., 9-play drive ended with Cody missing the PAT, leaving Harvard with an astonishing 13-0 lead.
With Bulldog fans choking on their pop corn and daiquiris, Yale took the kick-off and started to move for the first time. With John Rogan taking over the signal-calling, the Elis confidently marched down-field. A 29-yd. John Nitti gallop gave Yale a first and 10 at the Crimson 21. Rogan rolled to the Harvard 9 just tow plays later, and Hill scampered to a first and goal at the four.