Just before the half, during another Gettysburg drive, the wind blew one of the goalposts over. When Gettysburg scored, a maintenance worker had to stand under the uprights, propping up one of the posts with a two-by-four, during the extra-point attempt. It was good.
Swarthmore then drove and missed a fourth-down conversion from the Gettysburg 12. Halftime, 18-7 Swarthmore, but it felt closer than that. The weather turned worse, but no one left.
In the third quarter, it was all Gettysburg. As the visitors made two long drives, one for a touchdown, runners from a women's cross-country meet arrived at the finish line on the track that runs around the perimeter of the football field. The fans in the stands alternately applauded the runners and exhorted the Swarthmore defense. "Come on, hold them!"
Swarthmore's offense was stalled. On one third down, Martin could not get around end and Swarthmore had to punt. When he came off the field, Martin slammed his helmet on the ground. Like the hitting, the rage to win is here at Swarthmore just as at Soldier Field, the Orange Bowl or any other arena where they play the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, Gettysburg took the lead, 22-18. On its next possession, Swarthmore put together a few runs by Martin and a couple of crucial pass plays into the tough middle of the field, and the home team scored again: 24-22. But with only minutes to go, Gettysburg seemed able to move the ball when it needed to. "Come on, Deee!" the Swarthmore players shouted, pleading now.
Gettysburg drove toward the lame goalpost. A field goal would win it. The passion was now in everyone present. Everything important was, for some absurd and magical reason, tied up in a sprawling, disorderly game.
The Gettysburg quarterback rolled out and threw. Walsh made another steal. When he came out, his teammates mobbed him, shouting, "ChrisWalsh! ChrisWalsh! My man Chris Walsh!"
A 54-yard Martin run to the Gettysburg 15 iced it. He had gained 140 yards in the game. Afterward, players, friends and families stood around the field, talking and laughing and enjoying the feeling. "This is what it is all about," Walsh said. In Division III, even the clichés are the same.
It was a good day for smart-guy football at MIT, too, which enjoyed a 45-13 romp over Stonehill. When the victory was pretty much in hand, Smith was able to give game time to a lot of his players, among them Mehrdad Sarlak, one of the football novices who had come out at first in Jams and a T-shirt. He had kept his appointment with his adviser the following day but had come back for the next practice, and he kept coming back until Smith gave him a uniform. He played defensive back and helped MIT to a 4-3-1 season.
This season Smith, as usual, does not know what to expect when his squad comes out for the first day of practice. He has lost two members of his aero/astro backfield—the quarterback and the tailback—but fullback Garret Moose is still there, and incoming quarterback John Hur is an aero/astro major. Prather will be back, and there are at least two freshmen who should be able to help on both sides of the line. Also, Smith will have a new part-time assistant coach, Vaughn Williams, who played defensive back at Stanford and a little with the 49ers and the Colts. "He should be a real help," Smith says.