After The Game, Crimson captain Chuck Durst limped slowly to the trainer's room, injured left leg bandaged heavily. The awkward silence in Dillon Field House said it all--there was nothing to say, Harvard had fallen to Yale, 14-0, to finish in a four-way tie for third-place in the Ivy League.
The Elis copped their second straight undisputed Ivy crown, but this one proved eminently sweeter than last season's, when the Bulldogs had to endure the horror of losing to a then-lowly Crimson assemblage, 22-7, in the Bowl.
Saturday, Yale took the field knowing it had to confront a Harvard team sporting a 7-2 won-lost mark including a dazzling upset of Army, an impressive defense with a knack for the big play, and an offense which, while characterized by unevenness, seemed latently lethal.
The Bulldogs left the field smug and satisfied, having limited the Crimson's vaunted running attack to negative yardage (that's right, 21 carries for minus 11 yards) and having blanked Harvard in the Stadium for the first Game since 1931.
As for the Crimson gridders, they left the field with the disconcerting notion that no matter how remarkable their early season accomplishments and countless memorable moments, they may be remembered as a team utterly dominated by Carm Cozza's charges in front of 40,000 strong and thousands more watching on ABC. After all, as Harvard players readily acknowledged before and after The Game, the season began and ended Saturday.
The Crimson's troubles began late in the first quarter, when Yale quarterback John Rogan put together The Game's only sustained drive, using Cozza's patented ball-control offense superbly.
After Crimson punter Steve Flach kicked into the Eli end zone for a touchback. Rogan set off on an 80-yd. march, eventually hitting paydirt with a fourth-and-19 pass to split end Curtis Grieve, who leapt high above cornerback Rocky Delgadillo and adjuster Matt Foley for a spectacular six points.
During the drive, Rogan fed Yale's Mr. Everything, Rich Diana, five times, the longest an 18-yd. scamper which took the Elis deep into Crimson territory.
As it has done all season, however, the Harvard defense buckled down near the goal line, and on two successive running plays nailed the Bulldogs for losses, driving them back to the 25 with only 11 seconds left in the first stanza.
Irony, an ever-present factor in Games over the years, proceeded to make its entrance. Crimson coach Joe Restic called time out, knowing that Yale placekicker Tony Jones could not hit a 42-yd. field goal against the strong wind. With the Elis forced to go for it on fourth down before the quarter expired. Rogan clicked with Grieve, giving Yale all the points it needed.
Of course, no one could have predicted just how ineffective the Crimson offense would be. Harvard quarterback Brian Buckley concluded his varsity career in an unfortunate manner, completing 14 of 33 passes for 141 yds. and two interceptions, much of that yardage coming on quick hitters over the middle late in the contest with Yale playing a prevent defense.
Time and again. Buckley dropped back in the pocket only to come under heavy fire from Yale defensive ends Fred Leone and Jack Kelley. With stalwart Yale middle guard Kevin Czinger double-teamed and Buckley's mobility limited by the knee injury he suffered against Army, Cozza freed his ends to key on the senior signal-caller--with considerable success.
"It just wasn't our day--we couldn't get untracked, we couldn't get it going, we couldn't get it done," a dejected Restic said afterwards. He partially attributed Buckley's tribulations to the swirling; winds, and gave credit to the Bulldogs voracious defense.
But the break that broke the Crimson's collective back came on the opening play of the second half, when Mike Ernst and Scott McCabe (not Paul Scheper as reported earlier) collided on a kickoff return. The Elis recovered the fumble at the Crimson 25-yd. line, and a valiant Harvard defensive effort clamped down for seven plays until Yale captain John Nitti cracked over from the six-inch line on fourth-and-goal.
The third quarter was a blue-tinted nightmare for the Crimson. The Harvard offense compiled only two first downs during the period when it had the wind at its back, and those came in the closing minute. Flach, who had sprained a finger trying unsuccessfully to get off a kick on a low snap in the first half, fumbled a center snap at the Crimson two.
Four times Yale surged into the line, looking for the death blow, and four straight times the Elis were repelled in a Harvard goal-line stand that recalled last year's Game. Despite the boost, the offense continued to be a model of futility.
Yale safety Mike Muscatello--who had deflected several passes earlier--and cornerback Dave Daugherty picked off Buckley aerials in the final quarter as the Crimson lurched from crisis to crisis. As shadows lengthened at the closed end of Soldiers Field, the Crimson became shrouded in a black wave of failure pinned deep in its own end and unable to mount any forward thrusts.
Cozza, dressed like a true Yalie in a crested blue jacket, an off-hue blue sweater and a pinstripe tie, glowed after The Game. He described Grieve's touchdown catch--the Elis' first pass of the day--as "a big play, a super big play. It couldn't have been bigger."
And the sight of Durst walking in measured steps to the training table afterwards, favoring his sore knee, captured the essence of this Game--what might have been for a talented Crimson squad and what wasn't.
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