The 18,000 spectators who turned out to watch the Harvard-Brown football game Saturday couldn't have asked for more.
On a perfect Indian summer afternoon, the Crimson recorded its first shutout entirely different cast of characters stopped UMass, 10-0, in 1978. In the process, the Harvard defense came up with a league-record-tying six interceptions for the second week in a row and held the Bruins to just 69 yards on the ground.
At the same time, the largest home crowd of the year watched the Multiflex put a season-high 34 points on the board, as placekicker Jim Villanueva split the uprights for two field goals and quarterback Don Al-lard (11 of 20 for 171 yards) tossed two TD passes.
But as the Harvard fans enjoyed the final seconds of the 34-0 shellacking, the most crucial play of the weekend for the Crimson was occurring about 300 miles south in New Jersey. With only 24 seconds left in the Princeton-Penn game, Tiger placekicker Chris Price booted a 42-yard field goal to hand the Quakers their first Ivy loss of the season and allow Harvard (now 4-1 Ivy, 5-2 overall) to move into a tie for the league lead.
The Crimson and the Quakers both face non-conference opponents this Saturday, but on November 13, they will meet at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Whichever team wins that confrontation is guaranteed at least a share of the 1982 Ivy League Championship.
In absorbing the 34-0 loss, Brown lowered its Ivy mark to 2-3 and joined Columbia and Cornell in the out-of-contention ranks.
The Bruins came close to ending the shutout twice in the final quarter, but on both occasions, the Harvard defense stymied them.
On his last play before giving way to sophomore QB Eric Rosso, starter Joe Potter pitched to tailback Ken Jones at the Harvard 31. Jones rolled right and tried to throw to flanker Kelly Brothers in the end zone.
But safety Mike Dixon showed Jones why Potter's 211 yards passing had yielded nothing by coming up with Harvard's fifth interception.
On the final Brown series, Harvard had most of its second-stringers in against Rosso, and they proved that the Harvard defense has as much depth as it does talent.
Rosso managed to take his team from its own 13 to the Harvard 19, but the drive and the game ended there when backup cornerback Mike Cronin broke up a fourth-and-14 pass intended for split end Brad McCauley.
The Bruins' troubles began with Harvard defensive end Joe Margolis and cornerback John Dailey and ended with defensive end Morgan Rector, who came up with interception No. 6.
Margolis pressured Brown quarterback Potter all afternoon and by the end of his team's first possession, Potter was already unloading the ball a little early.
Potter threw his first errant pass of the afternoon only four and a half minutes into the first quarter. On second and 18 from the Harvard 37, Potter went over the middle for speedy flanker Brothers, but Dailey, who had two interceptions on the day and won the Miller High Life Player-of-the-Game award, came up with the ball at his own 30.
At that point, however, Harvard looked no better. The refs had already assessed a pair of 15-yard penalties against the Crimson two minutes into the game. Another error, Al-lard's wild pitch to fullback Mike Granger, gave Brown the possession that ended with the Dailey interception.