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NEW HAVEN, Conn--The Harvard football team came out flat and ended flat today, falling 23-13 to Yale.
Four delay-of-game penalties, two blocked punts an anemic 19 yards in the air, shoddy tackling and an erratic offense overshadowed a few shining individual performances.
Sophomore quarterback Mike Giardi scampered for 94 yards and one touchdown, Robb Hirsch a team high 99 yards and Kendrick Joyce pulled off one 46 yard run.
But the Crimson just could not sustain the momentum that put it a top Yale 13-10 going into half time.
As was the case throughout the season, Harvard turned out to be a first half team. It generated only 125 yards of offense in the second half, during which Yale shut out the Crimson.
Harvard could not get the job done when it had to, and a crowd of 40,091 at the Yale Bowl witnessed a heartbreaking end to a heartbreaking season.
"We knew we had to stop [Matt] Johnson and Giardi," said Yale Coach Carmen Cozza. "But we also knew if we stopped them it didn't mean we would stop the whole team."
Harvard Coach Joe Restic said that the penalties hurt the teams momentum. But Restic applauded the performance of Giardi and said that the sophomore would be even stronger next year.
"Experience like this in a ball game is only going to help him [Giardi]. It's a pressure situation. Mike did all he could possible do to make it happen."
Had Harvard won it would have taken second place in the Ivies to Dartmouth which clobbered Princeton 31 to 13 earlier today.
The Crimson would have finished its 1991 campaign at 5-1-1 in the Ivies, Harvard's best record since its Ancient Eight championship in 1987. And the Crimson would have taken a one game lead 18-17-1 over the Elis in The Game series.
Instead Harvard finishes the season in third place as the University of Pennsylvania upset Cornell, 14-13.
After a defensively-dominated third quarter, Yale took the offensive initiative in the fourth quarter. The Elis recaptured the lead 17-13 after a 34-yard run by Jim Gouveia brought Yale to Harvard's 28-yard line.
Chris Kouri followed with a 12-yard jaunt to the Harvard 16. Gouveia capped the drive with a six yard run into the left end zone to give Yale the lead.
Harvard was unable to retake the momentum. Hirsch put the Crimson into position after he burst his way up the middle for 19 yards to Harvard 40. But on third and seven the Crimson drew its fourth delay-of-game penalty making it third and 12.
Harvard failed to convert and on fourth down, Yale's Eric Drury blocked David Morgan's punt. The Crimson's second blocked punt of the game gave Yale the ball at the Harvard 20.
Yale quarterback Nick Crawford, who broke the 1000 mark in rushing today, crushed Harvard's hopes with at six-yard scramble into the end zone, giving the Elis a 23-14 advantage with six minutes to play.
Harvard took over needing a touchdown and a field goal to tie Yale. Hirsch, once again proved to be Harvard's player in the clutch, making a 35-yard run to the Yale 34.
But as Harvard moved inside the Elis 30, Yale's Kevin Skol pried the ball out off Matt Johnson' hands and sealed the Crimson's fate.
"Even at the end I thought if we has decent field position we could get back into it," Restic said. "I thought we'd come back in the second half and come out strong. We didn't want them to control the ball, and that's what they did."
Although Yale entered the second quarter on a roll a Spencer Neumann sack, good defensive penetration and a couple of Yale holding penalties, kept the Elis off the board.
Again Giardi showed himself to be Harvard's supreme offensive catalyst. After two stale running plays Giardi took off for a 21-yard run on third and six into the left and zone. The play cut Yale's lead to 10-7 as the 1991 Harvard squad continued to prove itself a strong second quarter team.
With time running down to the end of the first half, Harvard continued to apply the pressure. Kendrick Joyce exploded up the middle and down the right side for a 46-yard gain.
Joyce's run set-up a 42-yard field goal by Mark Hall, his second longest of the season, which put Harvard ahead 13-10 at the half.
Yale dominated the first half. Before most of the fans stumbled from their tailgate party to their seats the Elis had already engineered an impressive opening drive to take a 7-0 lead.
The Crimson had Yale pinned deep in its own territory on third down and one when Eli quarterback Nick Crawford pitched the ball to halfback Jim Gouveia who scooted 53 yards up the left sideline to the Harvard 17.
Yale then converted another third down opportunity on a Crawford keeper that put the Elis on the seven yard line with goal to go. Two plays later, halfback Chris Kouri dove over the top for the oneyard touchdown, less than four minutes into The Game.
Things got worse quickly for the Crimson. After Harvard was stalled on its initial drive punter Steve Morgan baubled the ball, getting off only a seven-yard kick to the Harvard 39.
Kouri then dashed 24 yards down the right sideline putting Yale at the 16 yard line. This time Harvard forced the Elis to settle for a 24 yard Ed Perks field goal that made the score 10-0.
The Crimon's flat play in both the first and fourth quarters dashed the hopes of claiming victory in the 1991 edition of The Game.
But despite the loss, Restic remained enthusiastic. "It's a great game, it just ads another chapter," said Restic. "This one is different from all the rest."
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