Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Game: With Lights

Under the lights, Yale and Harvard fought fiercely, but the Crimson won The Game, 38-19, for the ninth year in a row. (YWAA photos)
History was made at the Yale Bowl during The Game, 132nd edition, Nov. 21. For a stadium venue now 101 years old, what more bit of history could the Bowl possibly present to the Yale faithful? Besides Yale losing its ninth consecutive Game to Harvard in a rivalry that Yale once out-right owned, this year lights, temporarily installed, came on. 

After lambasting Harvard in familiar ways during its half-time show, the Yale band marched off the Bowl's field tooting "March, March, On Down the Field."  The cloudy New Haven skies darkened suddenly, and the lights shone brightly, casting an oval glow around the stadium.  Despite Harvard being up by two touchdowns and fans acknowledging Yale wouldn't come back, the stadium was abuzz: The Game was immersed in lights. 

For about a half-hour after the kick-off, the Yale side thought This Game could go Yale's way. Yale took the opening kick-off and marched beyond midfield.  Yale coaches decided to take chances.  On a fourth down at the Harvard 28 yard-line, quarterback Morgan Roberts '16 lofted a tight spiral down the field toward receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez '18, who took the pass and sprinted into the end zone toward the student section.  It would be the loudest the Yale side would roar all evening.  

Less than a minute later, Harvard matched the score and seized control of the contest before many Yale students had even settled into their residential-college sections in the Bowl. 

As a freshman defensive back on the squad, James Nicholas '19 of Scarsdale represented Westchester.  

During the weeks before The Game, the campus at Yale had been swamped with discussion, debate, teach-ins, and protests, drawing national attention. The Game provided a break for all to tend to another agenda item:  Beat Harvard.  It permitted students, professors, administrators and alumni to become "OneYale" in an effort to beat Harvard for a change. Over 51,000 (with a national television audience looking on) streamed into the Bowl to see if Yale could reverse an ugly tide of Harvard victories. 

Roberts threw the ball 65 times for 401 yards. Williams-Lopez caught 13 passes in all. No amount of passing up and down the field was sufficient for Yale. Unfortunately Harvard's own swift, efficient offense beat Yale, 38-19--the Crimson's 14th win over the Bulldogs in 15 years. Harvard (9-1) shared the Ivy League championship with Dartmouth and Penn.  Yale finished 6-4. 

Still, traditions endure at Yale and at the Bowl.  Students performed their fourth-quarter strip show in the stands, as they have done at every Yale-Harvard game for decades. The band played Cole Porter's fight songs whenever it got a chance.  Senior players and parents were introduced before the kick-off. An a cappella group sang the national anthem before the game. Luminaries, like U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry '66, grabbed good seats near the 50-yard-line. 

But this time, lights came on for the first time.  

AYA once again hosted "Alumni Village" for Yale alumni to congregate before The Game and grab free hot dogs, chowder, and cider. (YWAA photos)

When the sun went down, Yale and Harvard fans no longer had to squint toward the sun that usually falls behind the Bowl's press box. (YWAA photos)
The Yale Precision Marching Band, as usual, prepared a half-time show that taunted and teased all things representative of Harvard. (YWAA photos)

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