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"Gentlemen, you are about to play football for Yale against Harvard. Never in your life will you do anything as important."
--T.A.D. Jones, Yale football coach, circa 1920
I have never seen Harvard beat Yale in a football game.
You see, in my freshman year, I considered it more important to stay in Cambridge over Yale weekend and work on a 35-page paper.
T.A.D. Jones must be rolling in his grave after hearing that one.
I still remember climbing the stairs to the room of a friend who had the Michigan-Ohio State game on the TV, and seeing the Harvard score suddenly flashed on the screen.
The undefeated Elis had been vanquished. They were the champs, but Victory was ours.
May I burn in hell forever, I thought.
I remember, too, that the first piece of victory to arrive in the Yard was one of the Yale Bowl uprights, courtesy of a bunch of the guys who lived in my dorm. They displayed it proudly in their living room for all to see.
Everyone else drifted in at various times during the night and on into Sunday morning, each with the same special tale: the undefeated Elis had been ours.
I sat at dinner in the Union for days after, nodding my head and saying. "Uh-huh, Uh-huh," as others replayed the day's events again and again. I admitted to very few that I hadn't been there.
I vowed to be there the next time.
I might just as well have stayed at home. Sophomore year at the Stadium, with Harvard quarterback Brian Buckley chuckling musk-melons, proved to be a joke. There were no surprises: Yale was better; Yale won. The end of the game is something of a blur, but I do remember being on the field before the game was over. My intent was to protect the goal-posts from a fate similar to that which the Eli uprights had suffered the year before. "Fight fiercely, men," I cried, and headed into the fray in the end gone.
We gathered aoround the posts and readied for a charge from the enemy. Upon seeing the guy on my left flank go down hard after a right to the chin, however, the goalposts passed quickly from my mind. I figured 9,999 men was enough and headed for cover in the hordes of alumni leaving the stands. The goalposts went down shortly thereafter, as did several more of the troops.
I decided as last year's game approached that 1981 was going to be my year. A powerful Yale squad, possibly the best the Elis have ever had. A Harvard squad chugging along just over the .500 mark, 70,000-plus in the Yale bowl. They're replaying '79 just for me, I thought.
The Elis thought otherwise.
I shivered and whimpered through the 28-0 defeat, witnessing the panic of the Harvard coaching staff, which had quarterbacks and passes flying in all directions on every play in the second half.
It was a disgrace.
I have now run out of options. There are no reserves to fall back on. I am teetering on the edge of the real world, with no Yale game victory under my belt.
That's why I think this year will be different. I learned my lessons and learned it well.
The Harvard football team will win this afternoon.
And may the ghost of T.A.D. Jones take permanent leave from my brain.
* * *
HARVARD 83, YALE 0--Funny line of the week had to come from Joe Restic, who said that if Harvard had won the Ivy title on a play similar to that which ended last week's game with Penn, and Penn had protested the official's decision, the Crimson would have handed the win over to the Quakers, C'mon. Joe, you haven't won an Ivy title since '75, and the alumni are, to put it mildly, getting restless. You would have packed that title up and taken it home for the mantle, just as the Quakers did. It isn't the officials who have kept Harvard out of the Ivy limelight for the past seven seasons.
CORNELL 23, PENN 21--Hwy, what do you know, harvard is back in the limelight after this upset. Cornell, trailing 21-20, lines up for a field goal with three seconds left on the clock. The kick is up and . . .GOOD! No flags. The Big Red wins. Penn accepts defeat, and a share of the Ivy title.
BROWN 62, COLUMBIA 38--Lion quarterback John Witkowski passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns against the porous Bruno secondary. Meanwhile, Bruin quarterback Joe Potter does whatever he down well pleases against the Columbia defense, for which porous is an improvement.
PRINCETON 17, DARTMOUTH 11--Only the prelim to the main event, in which Princeton's Tiger Inn takes on an all-star team from the Dartmouth fraternities in an 80-man free-for-all. Winner take nothing.
Last week--2-2, after spending a couple of days in the I.V. League Season to date--30-18, and still riding the storm out.
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