Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Game That Slipped From Grasp

Yale caught up with Harvard in a frantic, exciting Game, but lost for the eighth straight time. (YWAA photos)

This Game hurt.  Yale hadn't beaten Harvard in football since 2006, and This Game, Nov. 22, was within grasp. Over 31,000 fans jammed every seat of ancient Harvard Stadium, enduring seasonal Charles River winds and chills, and watched the Elis and Cantabs parade up and down the field with long sprints into the endzone and short dashes across the goal line.

Loud roars from the crowds (from both sides) erupted after scores and could be heard all the way to Harvard Square. The loudest roar was the one that was background music for the Harvard linebacker who intercepted a Yale pass and rumbled, stumbled 90 yards, with an escort of teammates, for a third-quarter touchdown.

Credit Yale for staging a valiant fourth-quarter comeback.  Yale entered the final stanza down, 24-7. Some fans had already filed out, hurrying to escape the cold, end-of-game shadows.  The Bulldogs scurried back to tie the score, 24-24. Quarterback Morgan Roberts '16 and runningback Tyler Varga '15 led brisk, machine-like drives down the field. Yale, too, took advantage of Harvard miscues.

The whole stadium prepared for an overtime that would be played under the lights.

ESPN's "GameDay" ventured to Harvard for its Saturday-morning show (above, L). Following tradition, Harvard and Yale bands combined to play the national anthem (middle, R). (YWAA photos)
But with less than a minute to go, even with the wind against him, the Harvard quarterback hurled a perfect 35-yard arc of a pass to his swift, elusive wide-receiver for the winning score:  31-24. Harvard followers by the thousands rejoiced (The Crimson also won the Ivy championship), while the large Eli faithful fumed. Another defeat, the eighth in a row.

Roberts made one last effort, but his sharp, razor-like pass with 10 seconds yp go in Harvard territory was intercepted. The 131st Game was over.

Yale fans, however, didn't dispair.  This 2014 team (Team no. 142, Yale athletic officials like to call it) thrilled and impressed. It was an offensive juggernaut, scoring at will from the air and on the ground with a pantry of swift backs and glue-handed receivers.  It rose to the occasion and over-achieved this season (8-2 overall record).

The crowd finally departed and dispersed onto the streets of Boston and Cambridge. Some Yale players wept in sorrow when they greeted family members and classmates. One observer described The Game best:  Their smart guys beat our smart guys.
Yale cheerleaders (above, L) had little trouble encouraing Yale students and fans to rally on behalf of the Bulldogs. (YWAA photos)
For the umpteenth year in a row, Yale fans claimed they won the halftime show (above). (YWAA photos)
Down by 24-7, Yale rallied in the fourth quarter to tie the score with three minutes to go. (YWAA photos)
Harvard students stormed the field when The Game ended. (YWAA photos)

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