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Harvard would be in first place.
Scott Johnson would be a hero.
And Matt Johnson's 130-yard rushing effort would be more than the lead item in the football notebook.
In the land of what-if's, all of the above would have been true if the Crimson had not squandered a 24-7 halftime lead against Dartmouth last week.
For whatever reason--bad snap, bad hold, bad kick--Harvard came away with a dissatisfying 31-31 tie that will leave the Crimson's chances for an Ivy League title hanging in the balance of out-of-town scoreboards.
In the aftermath of Saturday's game the significance of Matt Johnson's effort went largely unnoticed. The week before, everyone gushed over Robb Hirsch's hard-fought 99-yard game. On Saturday, nobody cloaked in Crimson felt much like gushing.
Perhaps it was one of the few good things that came out of the game, but Johnson accomplished what no Harvard player had been able to in 16 previous games--rush for at least 100 yards. The last person to do it? That would have been, well, Matt Johnson, last November 3 in Harvard's 52-37 demolition of Brown.
On that day, Johnson carried for 111 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns. It was the second time Johnson had reached the 100-yard plateau that season.
This season, it didn't look like Johnson would have the opportunity to match his feats of last year. Going into the game he had rushed only 29 times for 140 yards. Halfbacks Hirsch and Kendrick Joyce had been Harvard's main running threats; each went into the game with over 300 yards rushing on the season.
Even after the first quarter, it didn't appear as though the Crimson offense was geared towards Johnson--he only carried once for five yards on Harvard's third drive of the game. Things changed in the second quarter.
Johnson carried eight times in the second period, picking up 50 yards and scoring one touchdown.
In the second half, Harvard Coach Joe Restic entrusted almost the entire running game to Johnson. Hirsch and Joyce each carried three times; Johnson's number was called 19 times and he responded with 75 yards.
On Harvard's final drive of the game, Johnson picked up 41 yards on six carries. His last carry brought the Crimson to the Dartmouth 10-yard line, setting up Scott Johnson's ill-fated kick.
There have been some famous ties in Harvard history, like the year 1968 when Harvard "beat" Yale 29-29, but last Saturday's tie earned this year's team a dubious honor. The game marked the first time that a Crimson team scored more than 30 points and didn't win.
That's the first time ever. Ever, as in 118 years and 1,050 games.
There was a lot for Harvard fans to cheer about early in Saturday's game. Not only was the Crimson doing a job on Dartmouth, but the P.A. announcer kept repeating that score from New Haven--Penn 6, Yale 3.
Only towards the game's end, when the tide changed for the Crimson, was the crowd alerted of the Elis' reawakening and subsequent trouncing of the Quakers, 31-12.
Things also sounded good from Providence, where Brown played host to Cornell. The Bruins couldn't hold off the Big Red, though, succumbing 20-17.
Just in the Nick o' Time
Last week was a good week for Ivy League quarterbacks named Nick. Yale's Nick Crawford garnered offensive Player of the Week honors. The senior from Kingsport, Tennessee rushed 24 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Crawford's 204 yards on the ground was the most in school history, and the third-best overall performance in Yale history.
Brown's Nick Richardson, on the other hand, gained his yards through the air. Richardson passed for 262 yards, the ninth-highest total in the history of Bruin football.
So what if his name isn't Nick?
Cornell quarterback Bill Lazor racked up 321 yards in the air on 31-of-50 passing to earn Sophomore of the Week honors. Lazor showed a flair for the dramatic, connecting for the game-winning touchdown with only five seconds remaining.
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