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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
It's been over a year now, but the upper-classmen on the Harvard football team still remember.
They remember the 34-19 humbling that Yale delivered at The Stadium last year and they remember their helplessness as they endured a Detroit Pistons-like show of sportsmanship by Elis fans whose premature celebrations prolonged an already lengthy day.
They remember the 20 unanswered points that Yale scored in the first half that put The Game out of reach and made the wait for an M.I.T. prank the only suspenseful part of the afternoon.
They remember Yale quarterback Darin Kehler running the wishbone like a proto-typical Big Eight signal-caller.
They remember an Elis offensive line that dominated the trenches and cleared the way for Yale backs to gain 266 yards of offense.
A Feeling of Emptiness
They remember the emptiness that comes with a nearly silent capacity crowd and they remember the frustration of an off-season spent thinking about what could have been.
But most of all, they remember being upstaged on their own turf, and now the Harvard upperclassmen hope that memory can be channeled into payback.
"The revenge factor definitely plays a huge role," Crimson senior Captain John Lausch said. "They ran away with it last season, and that's been on our minds."
It would be an overstatement to claim that anticipation of tomorrow's edition of The Game has controlled the lives of the Crimson for an entire year, but make no mistake--losing by 15 points in front of a sold-out home stadium leaves an impression.
"It's something we've definitely thought about," Lausch said. "Last year, a lot of the juniors and sophomores talked about it. We were standing next to each other on the field, and we said that it wouldn't happen next year."
Elis Wanted Revenge in '90
Lausch's words are familiar ones, and not just in the Harvard camp. After the Crimson handed a 37-20 beating to Yale in New Haven in 1989, the Elis didn't forget.
After last year's pounding of Harvard, Yale running back Kevin Callahan was quick to point to the '89 loss as a reason for the success in '90.
"[The '89 loss] is something that has been on a lot of people's minds," Callahan said. "All year it was something that was sort of plaguing us."
It certainly seemed to plague Callahan more than most, as he ran for two touch-downs and was instrumental in last season's rout of Harvard.
Of course, a desire for revenge can only do so much, and an effective offense--not team spirit--is what translates into yards. But this year's Crimson team is acutely aware of what happened last year, and don't underestimate the motivation factor.
A 'Cold, Bleak Winter'
"I can't imagine us being much more fired up than we are now," senior defensive end Spencer Neumann said. "But what happened last year is definitely a factor in the back of our minds. There's just no way we'll let that happen again."
"Basically, they humiliated us last year," senior defensive back Greg Belsher said. "This is always a big game, but because of the revenge factor, it's even bigger."
Perhaps Harvard Coach Joe Restic was thinking about motivation for tomorrow's game when he stood in Dillon Field House and reflected on last year's loss. "It wasn't a long, pleasant winter," Restic said. "It was cold and bleak."
Well, the chance to prevent another cold and bleak winter stands before the Crimson, and perhaps the memories of last year's Game will once again come to the fore tomorrow.
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