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"Look," says Quarterback Zimmerman, quite possibly the key difference between this year and last, "we knew we were better than a fifth-place team and we were going to prove it."
They did so in spectacular fashion. Harvard routed Lafayette (30-7), Tufts (45-0), Columbia (34-7) and big, tough Cornell (21-0). On the eve of the Dartmouth game it stood at the top of the NCAA charts in rushing with 333 yards per game and in scoring defense with a stingy 3.5 points a game. For the first time in recent memory Harvard has a quarterback who can move the team on the ground as well as pass effectively. It has two fine halfbacks in Leo and a stubby, snarling 5-foot-6, 180-pound sophomore named Vic Gatto. The offensive line, led by Steve Diamond, a high school All-America from Miami who originally had signed a letter of intent with Georgia Tech, is very fast and provides plenty of oil for Harvard's flanker T offense. The entire defense, though not big, is as quick as the offensive unit.
Halfback Leo is perhaps the finest runner ever enrolled at Harvard. His Everett High School team, in suburban Boston, went undefeated in his last two years and won the Class A title. Leo scored 21 touchdowns in his senior season. A good student, he applied to Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale and Columbia (after visiting Michigan State, Syracuse and Notre Dame), hit four for four, but, says Leo, "I was always thinking of Harvard."
And a good thing, too. In each of the last two years he has scored the winning touchdown against Yale. He may never again, however, have the kind of afternoon he had last Saturday against Dartmouth, when he blocked and passed furiously, got away on a long 64-yard touchdown run and, in all, gained 173 yards in 20 carries.
More than 10,000 tickets were snapped up by Dartmouth grads and undergrads, who trooped into Harvard Square in green caps, green coats, green scarves and green ribbons bearing the words "Green Power." The Crimson backlash, in the person of Bobby Leo, was felt before the end of the first quarter. Two long Dartmouth drives ended in lost fumbles, and then, with a first and 10 on its own 36, Harvard ended a record of scoreless frustration against Dartmouth that had stretched to almost 146 minutes. As Harvard lined up over the ball Zimmerman observed that Dartmouth's roving linebacker, Steve Luxford, had taken his position on the left.
"I had called a sweep left with Gatto carrying," said Zimmerman, "but when I saw the rover I called a change at the line of scrimmage to a sweep right with Leo. The play needs a solid block by Gatto to work, and it got it. Their left end just disappeared."
Leo turned downfield, found his route along the sideline blocked by men wearing green-and-white uniforms and cut left as the Dartmouth secondary flowed right. He popped into the clear on the Dartmouth 40 and started a desperate match race with Dartmouth's fast, all-league defensive halfback, Wynn Mabry, to the left-hand corner of the end zone. Leo won, sprawling across the goal line as Mabry pinned his legs together with a lunging tackle. Dartmouth finally held onto the ball long enough to move 84 yards on seven plays and score when Beard-rolled out from his 10-yard line, bounced off two tacklers and swandived into the end zone over a third.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters. Then, with 9:30 left in the game and trailing 14-13, Harvard took over the ball on its own 20 after a Dartmouth punt and launched a scoring march that ate up more than half of the final quarter.
"We were amazed and surprised that Harvard could move the ball so well against us and control it so long," said Beard after the game. "They had the ball so long our defense just got worn down. That's what won the game."
In the past Harvard has shown a consistent failure to win important games and last week's victory was therefore doubly satisfying. "I've had teams that could get much higher for one game than this one," said Coach Yovicsin, warily eying this week's game with weak Penn, "and also much flatter for a game. This probably is the most emotionally stable team I have ever coached here. They're all business."