Ten thousand men of Harvard want vict'ry today.
One would have to go back 30 years, to the depths of the Depression, to discover the last time this stirringexhortation really stirred anyone around Harvard Square. Until last week, that is, when the Dartmouth College football team arrived in Cambridge holding aloft a 15-game winning streak, the longest of any major-college team in the country.
Now, ordinarily the annual appearance of a Dartmouth team and its rooters is not the occasion for serious concern, one way or the other, at Harvard. Dartmouth people, in the minds of Harvard people, are fine football players, but their talk is too loud and they are a bit immature. Last week, however, the Harvards were more tolerant. For one thing, this was the 60th anniversary of Harvard Stadium, the first concrete football hippodrome in America, and the Harvard people respect tradition, of which they have a great deal more than anyone else. For another thing, Harvard rather suspected it might beat Dartmouth and go on to win the Ivy League championship. Harvard had not lost a game since it was beaten by Dartmouth a year ago, although a couple of early-season ties against Massachusetts and Columbia would sooner be forgotten. And, if an outsider might be forgiven a faintly dispassionate observation, it really is extraordinary what a successful football team can do to the atmosphere around an otherwise sophisticated university.
This, of course, was not as apparent at the beginning of the game last Saturday as it was at the end. Dartmouth appeared on the field in dazzling white uniforms with green striping. Harvard countered with the crimson it has been wearing almost since the Battle of Bunker Hill. On the first play Mike Bassett, the Harvard quarterback, threw a pass to Ted Bracken, the Dartmouth guard. Several minutes later, Dana Kelly, the Dartmouth quarterback, threw a 13-yard pass to John McLean, his halfback, and with the game three and a half minutes old, Dartmouth led by 7-0. All. of a sudden the overflow crowd of 38,000—the first non-Yale sellout at Harvard in 32 years—lost its voice.
Again Harvard received, and on the next play fumbled the ball to Dartmouth. Silence reigned deeper except for some uncouth Dartmouth voices on the sun side of the field. Harvard people from Milton and Dedham and the North Shone began to wish they were spending the balmy autumn afternoon gardening or sailing or playing golf.
But a tall, soft-spoken quarterback from Philadelphia who looks a lot like those fair-haired Hollywood boy friends named Tab and Rip and Rock changed the Harvard minds. His name is Bill Humenuk, and for most of his career at Harvard he has played quarterback in the shadow of his senior classmate Bassett. With time running out in the first half, Humenuk took over the team at mid-field and passed it directly to the Dartmouth one-yard line, where, unfortunately, three passes fell incomplete and the clock ran out before Harvard could score.
But the first time Harvard got the ball in the second half Humenuk was again in charge. Immediately he noticed something about the Dartmouth defense: the right tackle was pinched in too tight and the right end spread too wide. Humenuk called for a slant through this gap by his best friend, Scott Harshbarger, a fellow Pennsylvanian whose father is a professor of religious education at Penn State. Harshbarger found running room behind some ungentlemanly Harvard blocking, and after proceeding some 10 yards downfield decided to cut across field to the right. It was a decision that looked unwise for a moment, but when the confusion of stumbling, tumbling bodies cleared, Harshbarger'scrimson jersey was well along on its way to a touchdown. The play traveled 36 yards and John Hartranft's kick tied the score.
Ten thousand or more men of Harvard now began to sniff vict'ry. They had good reason. Following Dartmouth's early touchdown, Harvard had completely dominated the game, confining Dartmouth to a single first down and 38 yards while accumulating 172 yards and eight first downs of its own. The heretofore celebrated Dartmouth end sweeps were converted into traffic jams by the very good defensive play of Ends Tom Stephenson, Frank Ulcickas and Ken Boyda. The linebacking of Center Brad Stephens and Fullback Bill Grana was careless of everyone's health, including their own. And the wide parabolas of Harry Van Oudenallen's punts kept Dartmouth as uncertain and off balance as a man learning to ice skate.
"I think," said Harvard Coach John Yovicsin, "that defense is very definitely the most important part of the game, and kicking is next."
Before Yovicsin arrived from little Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, Harvard was not at all aware that he existed. He is now 44 years old and in his seventh year at Harvard. When coaching football, he is an unsmiling man with the lean and dedicated look of a deacon, and his teachings have scraped Harvard football off the bottom of the barrel. The team has won three of the last four Big Three championships and the Ivy title in 1961. Last year it was second to Dartmouth. If there is any rap at all against Yovicsin's teams, it is their lack of offensive polish. "I don't mind if we lose," said one lofty undergraduate last week, "so long as we lose interestingly. I kind of love it when we fumble on the goal line. It gives the team character. It's not getting near the goal line that bores you."