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Bucknell Halts Harvard's Streak

* Bison unleash 24 points in final three quarters

By Lev F. Gerlovin, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Harvard football team took to Harvard Stadium on Saturday afternoon hoping to go 3-0 for the first time since the Ivy League championship season of 1987. While the Crimson is still perfect in the Ancient Eight, it can no longer claim invincibility.

The Crimson (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) lost a tough 24-20 non-conference game against Patriot League powerhouse Bucknell (4-0). One week earlier the Bisons had taken out pre-season Ivy favorites, Pennsylvania 20-16.

"This was exactly the type of game that we expected from Bucknell," said Harvard Coach Tom Murphy.

But Murphy conceded that Harvard was not adequately prepared for a methodical option onslaught, led by backup Bison quarterback Don McDowell. Coming into the game in the second quarter, McDowell seemed to energize Bucknell into a Nebraska-style offensive juggernaut.

While the Crimson effectively plugged up the middle of the field, McDowell and running back Chris Peer thrived on darting outside behind outstanding downfield blocking.

"Donnie is fast enough to hurt them a little bit," said Bison Coach Tom Gadd.

While its offense was solid and precise, it was the Bucknell's defense that ultimately dealt the Crimson its first loss of the season. After a stellar 20-point first quarter, Harvard was held to no points and very few yards throughout the remainder of the game.

In the beginning, the matchup looked like the previous two Crimson contests. Harvard's offense looked outstanding behind crisp passes by sophomore quarterback Rich Linden mixed in with powerful runs by classmate Chris Menick. Menick scampered right for a one-yard touchdown five minutes into the game.

Bucknell took the ensuing kickoff to its own 35-yard line. After Peer's 15-yard rumble to get to midfield, starting quarterback Jim John sent three passes to the left side before wideout Ardie Kissinger slipped by junior corner Glenn Jackson's tackle at the 26-yard line to run for a game-tying score.

The Crimson came back firing. Within two minutes, Linden completed two long passes to senior receiver Colby Skelton. The second was taken 51 yards into the endzone, although Skelton's three east-west direction changes to fake the Bison safeties probably covered closer to 70 yards.

Harvard's defense held the next series, and Linden proceeded to march the Crimson down the field once again. Faced with a fourth-and-one at the Bucknell 39, Coach Murphy reached into his bag of tricks. Linden executed a flawless play-action pass-walking leisurely in the backfield for a few seconds before revealing that he had the ball-to leaping senior Jared Chupaila at the five-yard line.

Three plays later, Harvard upped the score to 20-7 on a beautiful roll-out pass to junior tight end Chris Eitzmann. Sophomore Mike Giampaolo's extra point attempt was no good, however.

While in the second quarter, it failed to alter the scoreboard. After allowing Bucknell to close to 20-14 on McDowell's option scamper, Harvard put together a nice drive. But a difficult pass for Skelton in the endzone was tipped and intercepted in acrobatic fashion by Bison Kevin Eiben.

Although senior Jeff Compas-who also led Harvard with 10 tackles and demonic special teams play-picked off McDowell's pass with 1:20 in the half, the Crimson did not capitalize on the turnover and went into the locker room still leading only 20-14.

For the second week in a row, however, Harvard played a far poorer tail end of the game. After breaking out for over 200-yards passing in the first half, Linden completed only four-of-13 passes for 26 yards in the final two quarters. The primary reason for the slump was the complex scheme of zone blitzes thrown in by the Bison.

"They did a good job on Rich," Mur- phy said. "They blitzed a lot."

"Harvard stopped themselves with penalties [total of eight flags]," Gadd said. "We also started getting after Linden better, and got them into third-and-long situations."

Indeed, the Crimson was forced to punt away its first possession of the second half from deep in its own territory due to two costly penalties. Bucknell wasted little time.

McDowell passed for 26 yards to fullback Jeremy Myers, capitalizing on blown coverage by the Harvard cornerbacks.

While Compas saved the touchdown with an alert tackle, Peer put the Bisons ahead two plays later on a 16-yard race to the left corner of the end-zone.

After the Crimson took over on its own 34-yard line, a tremendous moment for the Harvard faithful transpired. Colby Skelton caught a nine-yard pass in traffic to break Pat McInnaly's '75 school record of 108 career receptions. Skelton finished with five catches for 106 yards to pace the Crimson.

"The record is nice, but the most important thing is winning the game. We didn't do that today," Skelton said.

Six plays later, Bucknell's corner Nate Musselman intercepted a Linden pass on a broken play and ran it back to midfield. Just over a minute later, McDowell avoided a sack to sprint 30 yards before being tackled by alert junior Derek Yankoff.

"I just got outside and there was nobody there," said McDowell.

The Crimson defense held Bucknell to a field goal, but with a 24-20 deficit and loss of momentum, it was obvious that Harvard was facing a tough road ahead.

Paced by standouts Willie Hill and Steve Burman, who combined for 19 tackles and three sacks, Bucknell flexed its defensive muscle.

The Bisons proceeded to hammer Linden on every pass play, and stuffed the running game by penetrating past an outmatched Crimson offensive line.

Bucknell could have added another score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the aptly-named junior Ron Rockett was ruled out-of-bounds on a great catch at the Harvard one-yard line, forcing Bucknell to punt.

In the course of the next 10 minutes, thrice the Crimson went on offense. Yet, Harvard gained only one first down and each time was forced to punt almost immediately.

The final realistic opportunity came when the Crimson began a drive on the Bucknell 45-yard line with just under two minutes left and all timeouts remaining. But a sack and two in completions gave the ball back to the Bisons, who ran the clock down to ten seconds.

"We haven't been behind at all this year," Murphy said. "That may have hurt us."

After a Bucknell punt, Linden heaved a desperation Hail Mary in the direction of Skelton, but it was batted down by a Bucknell defender.

First Quarter

Har-Menick, 1 run (Giamaolo kick), 9:53.

Buc-Kissinger 38 pass from John (Coleman kick) 7:25.

Har-Skeleton 51 pass from Linden (Glampaola kick) 5:37

Har-Eitzmann 2 pass from Linden (Giampaola kick) 0:40.

Second Quarter

Buc-McDowell 4 run (Coleman kick), 6:32.

Third Quarter

Buc-Peer 16 run (Coleman kick), 10:29.

Buc-Coleman 31 FG 4:09.

Rushing: Buc-Peer 19-83, McDowell 10-57, Bradwell 6-16, Bombich 2-13, Lundberg 1-6, Myers 2-4, John 5-0; Har-Menick 21-80, Jones, D. 4-21, Nwokocha 3-9, Linden 10-36.

Passing: Buc-McDowell 15-7-1 (93), John 5-3-0 (51); Har-Linden 30-16-2 (228).

Receiving: Col-Lundberg 3-28, Whitner 2-24, Peer 1-5, Myers 1-26, Kissinger 1-38, Wilcox 1-15, Scholtz 1-8; Har-Skelton 5-106, Eitzman 4-24, Chupaila 3-54, Jones, D. 2-21, Patterson 2-23-0.

Interceptions: Buc-Eiben, Musselman; Har-Compas.

FG Missed: None.

Time of Possession: Buc-30:09, Har-29:51.

Attendance: 4,330.

BUCKNELL, 24-20 at Harvard StadiumBucknell  7  7  10  0  -  24Harvard  20  0  0  0  -  2

"Harvard stopped themselves with penalties [total of eight flags]," Gadd said. "We also started getting after Linden better, and got them into third-and-long situations."

Indeed, the Crimson was forced to punt away its first possession of the second half from deep in its own territory due to two costly penalties. Bucknell wasted little time.

McDowell passed for 26 yards to fullback Jeremy Myers, capitalizing on blown coverage by the Harvard cornerbacks.

While Compas saved the touchdown with an alert tackle, Peer put the Bisons ahead two plays later on a 16-yard race to the left corner of the end-zone.

After the Crimson took over on its own 34-yard line, a tremendous moment for the Harvard faithful transpired. Colby Skelton caught a nine-yard pass in traffic to break Pat McInnaly's '75 school record of 108 career receptions. Skelton finished with five catches for 106 yards to pace the Crimson.

"The record is nice, but the most important thing is winning the game. We didn't do that today," Skelton said.

Six plays later, Bucknell's corner Nate Musselman intercepted a Linden pass on a broken play and ran it back to midfield. Just over a minute later, McDowell avoided a sack to sprint 30 yards before being tackled by alert junior Derek Yankoff.

"I just got outside and there was nobody there," said McDowell.

The Crimson defense held Bucknell to a field goal, but with a 24-20 deficit and loss of momentum, it was obvious that Harvard was facing a tough road ahead.

Paced by standouts Willie Hill and Steve Burman, who combined for 19 tackles and three sacks, Bucknell flexed its defensive muscle.

The Bisons proceeded to hammer Linden on every pass play, and stuffed the running game by penetrating past an outmatched Crimson offensive line.

Bucknell could have added another score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the aptly-named junior Ron Rockett was ruled out-of-bounds on a great catch at the Harvard one-yard line, forcing Bucknell to punt.

In the course of the next 10 minutes, thrice the Crimson went on offense. Yet, Harvard gained only one first down and each time was forced to punt almost immediately.

The final realistic opportunity came when the Crimson began a drive on the Bucknell 45-yard line with just under two minutes left and all timeouts remaining. But a sack and two in completions gave the ball back to the Bisons, who ran the clock down to ten seconds.

"We haven't been behind at all this year," Murphy said. "That may have hurt us."

After a Bucknell punt, Linden heaved a desperation Hail Mary in the direction of Skelton, but it was batted down by a Bucknell defender.

First Quarter

Har-Menick, 1 run (Giamaolo kick), 9:53.

Buc-Kissinger 38 pass from John (Coleman kick) 7:25.

Har-Skeleton 51 pass from Linden (Glampaola kick) 5:37

Har-Eitzmann 2 pass from Linden (Giampaola kick) 0:40.

Second Quarter

Buc-McDowell 4 run (Coleman kick), 6:32.

Third Quarter

Buc-Peer 16 run (Coleman kick), 10:29.

Buc-Coleman 31 FG 4:09.

Rushing: Buc-Peer 19-83, McDowell 10-57, Bradwell 6-16, Bombich 2-13, Lundberg 1-6, Myers 2-4, John 5-0; Har-Menick 21-80, Jones, D. 4-21, Nwokocha 3-9, Linden 10-36.

Passing: Buc-McDowell 15-7-1 (93), John 5-3-0 (51); Har-Linden 30-16-2 (228).

Receiving: Col-Lundberg 3-28, Whitner 2-24, Peer 1-5, Myers 1-26, Kissinger 1-38, Wilcox 1-15, Scholtz 1-8; Har-Skelton 5-106, Eitzman 4-24, Chupaila 3-54, Jones, D. 2-21, Patterson 2-23-0.

Interceptions: Buc-Eiben, Musselman; Har-Compas.

FG Missed: None.

Time of Possession: Buc-30:09, Har-29:51.

Attendance: 4,330.

BUCKNELL, 24-20 at Harvard StadiumBucknell  7  7  10  0  -  24Harvard  20  0  0  0  -  2

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