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Last year, the Harvard football team went 5-2 en route to a third-place Ivy finish. The only blemishes on its record were losses to Cornell and Princeton.
Two weeks ago the Crimson (3-2 overall, 1-1 Ivy) fell to the Big Red for the sixth straight season. Today, Harvard has one more chance to avenge a 1989 defeat.
"We didn't get revenge on Cornell," offensive tackle Doug Rosenberry said. "It would be nice to get a taste of Princeton."
Harvard visits Princeton (2-3, 1-1) today at 1 p.m. in a game that will go a long way toward determining who will not win the league title this fall. Only two times in league history has a team won a share of the title with two Ivy losses.
"If we're looking to say something about the Ivy title, we've got to say something now," said senior split end Rodney Taylor, who was elected first class marshal last week.
The Crimson plans to use its talented ground attack, featuring leading rusher Andy Bell, senior Bert Smyers, junior fullback Matt Johnson and sophomore halfbacks Robb Hirsch and Kendrick Joyce. Hirsch will move into the starting lineup at halfback after his 70-yd. performance on just five carries in the Crimson's 19-13 victory over Fordham last Saturday earned him Ivy Sophomore of the Week honors.
"We'll go out trying to run the ball," Rosenberry said. "If we can establish the inside game early, then we can move to the option and the pass.
Against Fordham, quarterback Adam Lazarre-White and Johnson executed the option to perfection, netting johnson 110 yards on the ground. Princeton no doubt will key on that ploy, and Harvard may have to start out blasting ballcarriers between the tackles.
"If we can't establish the inside game, we won't be able to do the other things," Rosenberry said.
Contrary to preseason predictions, the Tigers have been less than impressive, dropping a three-point game to Cornell and edging lowly Brown by just four. Last week, the Princeton 4-4 defense loomed large, holding prolific Bucknell to just two touchdowns in a 14-9 loss.
"They're tough and aggressive," Taylor said. "They're looking to hit you on every play."
Strong safety Mike Hirou and linebacker Aaron Harris lead the Tiger defense with 38 and 34 tackles, respectively. But Coach Steve Tosches' D is most imposing on the front line, where Lazarre-White will need to thread the needle through a pair of 6-ft., 5-in. defensive ends.
Senior Renard Charity and junior Leon Newsome compose one of the fiercest tandems in the league. The game should pose a test for the Tom Callahan-less Harvard offensive line. Callahan, the team captain, is out for the season with a back injury.
The Sharp Image
Sophomore Erick Hamilton leads the Tigers running attack with 362 yards and one touchdown. Senior fullback Chris Callihan provides the remaining bulk of the ground game with 214 yards.
Quarterback Joel Sharp, who engineered last season's 28-14 win over Harvard, returns at the helm. The senior has completed 48.2 perecnt of his passes for 800 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. His favorite targets have been wide receivers Mark Rogers and Joe Baker.
If the Tigers watched films of the Harvard-Fordham game, they will certainly go to the air. Rams quarterback Gary Brennan and wideout Tom Garlick exploited the Crimson secondary, while the Rams running game was completely thwarted.
"Everybody's pretty confident," Taylor said. "We're hyped. We want to disappoint the crowd."
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