Daniel Webster, class of 1801, in his famous Dartmouth College Case, stated with great eloquence that Dartmouth was a small college but that there were those who loved it. Well, today Dartmouth is still a small college (enrollment 2,950); it has a big, fast football team that last year was judged best in the East, and now there are those—mostly Harvard men—who hate it. This was made abundantly clear last week at Harvard Stadium in a game that prior to the season was scheduled to be nothing more than a feeding station on Dartmouth's march to its second straight Ivy title. It was made clear with a savage eloquence that must have impressed a large New England television audience, obviously impressed a roaring hip-flask-to-hip-flask crowd of 40,000, and may even have impressed Senator Webster, wherever he is. Harvard, buoyed by the kind of resourceful vigor that it reserves only for Dartmouth, defeated the Big Green 19-14. The Crimson won the game with a rugged, exciting, time-consuming, 16-play, 80-yard march that produced the winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play. The score may prove to be the most significant one in the East this year. Surprising Harvard is suddenly five up with only four to go toward its first undefeated and untied season in 53 years.
"How sweet it is," observed Harvard's sturdy, 230-pound defensive tackle, Skip Sviokla, when the game, if not The Game, was over. "How sweet it is to beat the boys from the woods."
It is generally assumed, with some accuracy, that the Yale game must be classed with birth, marriage and death as one of the most significant moments in a Harvard football player's stay here on earth. But, like a coronation or a presidential inauguration, the Yale game is usually more of an historic ritual than the kind of traditional bloodletting you can expect when, say, Alabama and Auburn get together. That sort of hostility is reserved for Dartmouth. Part of the friction between the schools is caused by their proximity. Both are in New England, 120 miles apart, and a thick helping of Green and Crimson graduates is scattered all around Greater Boston. Part is caused by the clash of two images: the virile outdoorsman versus the effete egghead.
"It kind of bugs us that Harvard gets so much publicity around Boston," says Dartmouth's very bright and exceptionally versatile quarterback, Mickey Beard. "It's the Yale game this and the Yale game that while Dartmouth is just that little school in the woods of New Hampshire. We're trying to make them darn well think that the Dartmouth game is The Game for them—not Yale."
Ric Zimmerman, the tall, intelligent, left-handed quarterback whose poise and passing have helped Harvard to serve up the kind of vitamin-rich, well-balanced offense that has been lacking in Cambridge for many years, would not go that far, but he has a few ideas of his own on why the Harvards love beating the Dartmouths at anything, even tiddlywinks.
"Those Dartmouth guys come down here in their green jackets," he says with a slight tone of distaste. "They come to our weekend parties and they lounge around on the floor with our dates and give you the idea it would be the easiest thing in the world to take our girls away from us. The Dartmouth game is always a good one to win."
It was especially so this year. The record does not show how many girls the Dartmouth boys have stolen from Harvard boys, but it does show how many points the Big Green got away with during the past two seasons. In 1964 the score was 48-0, on network television no less. Last year Dartmouth shut out Harvard again 14-0, then went on to finish the season undefeated and to win the Lambert Trophy as the East's best team. This year, with plenty of muscle reporting back, the Indians—they chose the name, not Harvard—were picked once again to dominate the Ivy League. On hand were Quarterback Beard, a daring, successful runner and passer; Halfback Gene Ryzewicz, a fast and slippery runner who averaged 7.6 yards a carry as a sophomore in 1965 and who can pass almost as well as Beard; All-Ivy Fullback Pete Walton, who at 226 pounds weighs only four pounds less than Sviokla, Harvard's heaviest man; two big offensive ends, Bill Calhoun and Bob MacCleod; and a speedy, six-man defensive secondary that, with one exception, was playing together for the second year. Dartmouth is not heavy but, like all Blackman teams, it is very fast and very tough.
With only 14 lettermen returning from last year's 5-2-2 team, Harvard looked pitiful by comparison. If the Crimson finished better than fifth in the league, people were saying, the team should celebrate with a wild old extra hour in the Widener Library stacks. The Harvards, who have not finished below third since 1958, resented this slur almost as much as they do the color green.
"When I watched the first practice session," says a member of the Harvard athletic department, "I could sense that something electric was happening." "It was about the best preseason practice session I've ever had," says Coach John Yovicsin, in the midst of his 10th year at Harvard.
"It looked for once as if we were going to have a balanced offensive," says Halfback Bobby Leo, "and take the pressure off the defense."