Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"The Hardest Six Yards"

Westchester resident Bill Primps '71 recalls his playing days in the the new history of the Yale Bowl (Yale Athletics, DL photos)
Yale Athletics published a commemorative book A Bowl Full of Memories (Sports Publishing, New York) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl during the past football season. The book, written and edited by Rich Marazzi, provides first-hand accounts of special moments in the old stadium from coaches, players, journalists and even equipment managers and trainers.  In the book, Westchester resident Bill Primps '71, a running back on the 1968-70 Yale teams and a graduate of Ossining High School, recounts when he scored the winning touchdown against Harvard in 1969 in his junior year. 

Primps, an attorney today, chairs the Westchester Alumni Schools Committee (alumni admissions interviews) and is president of the Ivy Football Asssociation, an organization of former Ivy players and coaches to promote the values of Ivy League football.  Its biennial dinner, scheduled for Jan. 22 in Manhattan, honors former Yale players (Sandy Cutler '73 this year), as well as outstanding football alumni from the other seven Ivy schools. 

See excerpts from the book below of Primps' account of playing for Yale:

"For me, the crowd-noise magical moment in the Bowl was the '69 Harvard game, when I scored the only touchdown of the game and we beat Harvard, 7-0, before over 62,000 roaring fans.  Don't forget that this game was played the year after the horrendous 29-29 tie game.  It had a little extra edge to it. At halftime, the game was scoreless when our captain, Andy Coe '70, came over to the offensive room and said, 'Just get us one touchdown.'

"Harvard took the opening kick-off of the second half and moved the ball to about the 50-yard line.  They punted and we began an 80-yard drive, covering 10 plays, the biggest of which was a Don Martin ('71) 36-yard run that got us over midfield to the Harvard 43....

(Yale marched the ball down to the Harvard 6, first and goal.)

"The first two plays I ran were off-tackle smashes to the left behind strong double-team blocks by Lew Roney '70 and Earle Matory '72.  It was third and goal on the two.  

"I was set in my fullback stance in the I-formation.  I looked left and right, not to give away the direction I would be going.   I was very aware of where everbody was and what was going to happen. The main noise I heard was the motor drives of the cameras that surrounded the end zone opposite the scoreboard.  

"The tension was growing with every passing second.  I then ran for 2 yards and scored behind a good double-team by tackle Terry Kessler '72 and tight-end Rich Maher '72, '76 MD....They were the hardest 6 yards I ever picked up....

"Needless to say, it was a happy campus that night as the euphoria of beating Harvard and gaining a share of the Ivy League title carried over to a Sha-na-na concert in the Freshman Commons.  A lot of the social life and extracurricular activities at Yale at the time were influenced by Garry Trudeau '70, who was a senior. And not having B.D. (Brian Dowling '69) to cartoon anymore, he took his talents into other areas, like arranging for Sha-na-na to come to a Yale.  

"Most significant for me was that my date that night was a 19-year-old from Mount Holyoke College, Sophia Beutel, who 45 years later is my wife and mother of my three kids."

Primps plunges across the goal line against Harvard in the 1969 Game (L) and rushes for yardage (no. 42, R) at Princeton. (Yale Athletics, Princeton Alumni Weekly photos)

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