The Harvard football team's game against Columbia last week was merely a diagnostic exercise. Today's showdown with Holy Cross marks the squad's first real test of the season.
The Crimson's 34-0 shellacking of the Lions a week ago at the Stadium only went to prove that Columbia is still one of the nation's sorriest football teams.
Harvard looks to face far stiffer competition when The Cross (2-0) comes to town this afternoon.
Last year's Crimson-Crusader contest provided the setting for the most dramatic finish of Harvard's 1985 season. Trailing 20-7 with just over three minutes to play in the game, the Crimson rallied for three touchdowns over a 41-second span to escape Worcester with a 28-20 triumph.
Quarterback Brian White started the rally by connecting with split end LaMont Greer on a 27-yd. scoring strike. Following a successful onsides kick, running back Robert Santiago hit Joe Connolly with a near-miraculous 40-yd. halfback option.
A Lee Oldenburg 34-yd. interception return for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage capped the magical comeback and sealed The Cross' fate.
History will no doubt be on the minds of the two teams when they take the field for today's 1:30 kickoff. But once things get underway, the memories are bound to vanish--just like most of the heroes of the '85 classic.
White and Santiago graduated in June, and Greer is out for the season with an injured knee. That leaves Connolly--a wide receiver who had more rushing yardage than pass-reception yardage last Saturday thanks to a 20-yd. reverse scamper--as the only remaining star from last year's thriller.
The good news for Harvard is that Holy Cross also lost one of its heroes--perhaps the greatest in the school's history--to graduation.
For current Holy Cross fullback Tom Kelleher, attempting to fill the shoes of Gill "The Thrill" Fenerty will be like Tom Thumb trying to fill the shoes of the Jolly Green Giant.
Fenerty, who owns nearly every Crusader offensive record and a host of NCAA records, transferred to Holy Cross from LSU as a sophomore and went on to become one of New England's all-time greatest collegiate running backs.
If last week was any indication, however, the Crusaders won't need much of a running game.
The Cross is coming off an explosive 38-14 victory over Lafayette. In that game, Crusader signal-caller Jeff Wiley threw for 320 yards, the third-best total in Holy Cross history.
Those 320 yards represent nearly three times as many passing yards as a pair of Columbia QBs collected against the Crimson in the gridders' season opener.
Now that it faces an opponent with a legitimate passing threat, Harvard should get its first test of just how much the graduated secondary of Oldenburg, Frank Ciota, All-Ivy Ken Tarczy, and All-America Cecil Cox will be missed.
On offense, the Crimson is unlikely to gain the 300-plus yards it did against the Lions. The running game--which will rely most heavily on George Sorbara (17 rushes for 63 yards) and Joe Pusateri (6-for-49)--will have to make do without an injured Brian O'Neil, and will have to deal with a couple of impressive-looking Crusader linebackers.
All-America candidate Jerry McCabe recorded 16 tackles in The Cross' season opener against Lehigh, and partner Scott Rudy registered another 10.
Meanwhile, Harvard signal-caller David Landau and his offensive line will have their hands full with 6-ft., 3-in., 235-lb. defensive tackle Andy Martin, who recorded four quarterback sacks against Lehigh.
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GILL FENERTYThe crowd at Fitton Field in Worcester will be waiting for something spectacular to happen Saturday. And when the fans