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Underdog Harvard upends Yale Bulldogs to win Ivy League, 37-6
New Haven, CT - In the annual Ivy League arch-rivalry known as The Game, underdog #25 Harvard (8-2, 7-0) completely overwhelmed the previously undefeated and #11- ranked Yale Bulldogs, 37-6, to win the Ivy League 2007 championship. It was the first time the two ancient rivals met with identical 6-0 Ivy League records since 1968 to battle for the crown in their annual season finale played for the 124th game between one another. Harvard scored on the first possession of the game on a 40-yard scoring play from QB Chris Pizzotti to WR Matt Luft to take a quick lead before the pair would hook up on another score late in the quarter to race to a 27-0 lead at the half to never look back at the demoralized, uninspired Bulldogs. CollegeFootballFan.com attended The Game with 40 other fans who attended this year's Big Tailgate Party and had a good time despite the lopsided result on the field. Harvard so dominated the home team so thoroughly that even all in attendance for the Big Tailgate Party left the game early in the fourth period to enjoy the festivities on Yale Ave. before the thirteen minutes came off the clock! We never leave a game early, but the Yale lack of effort made it that bad!
After the quick 7-0 lead, the teams exchanged possessions with The Crimson taking over on its own forty-two. Pizzotti and Luft connected again for a 33-yard scoring pass, and Patrick Long's PAT hooked left and Harvard led, 13-0. Guest Game Analyst Steve Ciesla and I agreed that the missed extra point could come back to haunt Harvard later. The one bright spot for Yale all day was return man Gio Christodoulou who returned kickoffs back four times for 144 yards. He took the ensuing kickoff out to Harvard's forty-eight. On fourth and one at the Crimson thirty-nine, Yale tried to keep the drive going to attain their first score, but Harvard stopped the threat by holding RB Mike McLeod for no gain and took over once again on downs. The Yale offensive strength all season turned out to be their weakness as their reliability on McLeod indicated the rest of the offense could not thrive without him. Princeton exposed this last week, and Harvard keyed on him to hold the Junior who averaged 174.4 rushing yards per game to only 50 yards on 20 carries. QB Matt Polhemus, who was needed to help balance the attack, completed only two of eighteen pass attempts for 29 yards and 2 INTs. The Blue and White Bulldogs saw red, call it Crimson, all day.
Starting from its own 41, Harvard relied on its RB Cheng Ho (17 rushes for 63 yards) and another 19-yard pass to Luft to increase the score to 20-0 when Ho took it in from the one-yard line. The pressure was on the Elis now. On a fourth and ten from the twenty-four, the Bulldogs faked a high snap as the punter leaped high in the air and the up-back took the direct snap. He was tackled on the fifteen where Harvard took over. A fifteen yard TD pass from Pizzotti (27 of 40 for 316 yards and 4 TDs for game MVP honors) to Mike Cook put the Crimson up with 7:51 left in the half, 27-0. GGA Ciesla and I agreed then that maybe that earlier missed extra point wasn't so important! Yale started again with good field position after the kick return out to the forty-eight, but once again the drive stalled at Harvard's twenty-nine. In the waning seconds of the first half, Harvard knocked on the Yale door once again, but mismanagement of the clock ended the drive for Harvard on the Yale one as time expired.
Halftime entertainment started off with many bangs, on top of one "Yalies" head, that is! A Yale "man", as so despised by Thurston Howell III marooned on "Gilligan's Island", tried to abscond with a Harvard flag from the side line only to be wrestled down by Crimson cheerleaders, mostly female, near the hash marks on the field where they stomped him into the ground as they tried to pry the flagpole from his hands wrapped tightly around it. The cheerleaders eventually won before the dazed Yalie was escorted off the field by security. George Bush Awards named for their illustrious alumnus from the class of 1941 were presented during rounds of "boos"! The Yale Bowl was rededicated as the Charles B. Johnson and Class of 1954 Field. Outdoing Princeton's Power Field dedication last week where former Tiger player Bill Powers provided $10.5 million to the athletic facilities of PU, the Yale Class of 1954 donated $120 million to Yale's athletic cause! We suggest that some of the funds be used to put a second scoreboard in the stadium so those of us in the end zone under the current one don't have to keep turning around to know the time remaining and other information. As a matter of fact, replace the current one while you're at it! The two bands frolicked in traditional Ivy League style racing onto the field dedicating music to their foe as narrators used innuendos, sarcasm, and other plays on words to try to insult their arch-rival, most which went over the heads of us common folk seated in the general admission section!
Yale started with a good return by Steve Santoro out to the forty-one, but a sack by Harvard forced them to punt once again from that spot. Harvard started its next drive from its own thirty-seven and the result was Long's 20-yard FG for a 30-0 lead. At that point, groups were welcomed by the PA announcer which blared loud and clear in the north end of the venerable Yale Bowl throughout the game. It's so loud it hurts your ears! Our group was mentioned among others and we gave a loud cheer in a predominately Yale section that had nothing to cheer for all day. A little while later into the period which resulted in no more scoring, the PA announcer made mention of a message to "Yale alumni or alumnae", which prompted GGA Frank Scarpa, a Rutgers grad, to respond, "What's the difference? I've never been to a game where I came out feeling so stupid! I never had to leave a game feeling like I had to go back to a dictionary to look up words! Alumni or alumnae? I didn't understand what they were talking about at halftime either!" Welcome to the Ivy League, Frank. It's a different world. Wonder if the class of '54 had any inkling to take back $120 million after this afternoon's performance by the Bulldogs? CB Steven Williams picked off a Yale pass with 3:54 remaining in the third period which brought out security personnel around the perimeter of the playing field. Why? It didn't seem like anyone was getting ready to rush the field as most of the 57,248 in attendance who took their seats throughout the first half had already left to start post-game tailgating as the Bulldog football team showed no extraordinary effort to make some kind of memorable comeback. Yale started from the six after Yale Captain and DE Brandt Hollander showed a little spark by rushing the Harvard sideline on his own to get flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Yale stalled again and punted giving the Crimson the ball on its forty-five.
With 13:52 remaining in the game, Pizzotti threw his fourth TD pass of the day when he connected with TE Jason Miller from the five-yard line after the Crimson easily drove down field against an effortless Yale defense. The score was now 37-0, and Yale showed no indication that there was any fight left in them. It was a terrible effort on their part throughout The Game. It was an effort they could surely be ashamed of. Poor planning. Poor effort. Poor hustle. No guts. What could these Bulldogs have been thinking about? This game was for a championship! This game was for glory! This game was for 10-0! This was their last game of the season! This was their last game as a team! This was arch-rival Harvard! This was for history! This was THE GAME! We thought the lethargic 27-6 win at Princeton the week before was because they were looking past the Tigers to this one. We were wrong. The Bulldogs played like a bunch of quitters. We left to go tailgate since our bus parked only fifteen minutes prior to the opening kickoff. We decided to make the most of our trip after the Harvard romp. The aforementioned Christodoulou did his thing after we left. He returned a punt 87 yards for a TD to finalize the score, 37-6. Maybe one Yalie didn't quit. He was the second. The other was the guy who got stomped on by a bunch of Harvard cheerleaders! He gave his all despite being outnumbered, even if it was by a bunch of girls!
The season is over for both teams. Too bad the Ivy powers that be can't allow their football teams into the Championship Division playoffs. Ivy soccer champs can go into post-season play. Princeton's basketball team is in Hawaii next week for the Maui Classic! We don't get it. CollegeFootballFan.com is heading to the playoffs. We're going to Amherst, MA as a side-trip to our Thanksgiving festivities where 9-2 UMass hosts 8-3 Fordham in the opening round of the playoffs.
Extra Points: Our bus arrived a half-hour late to pick us up. The original had engine problems and Aristocrat Bus gave us the newest bus from their fleet. Our bus driver, Pete, was great. We parked on Yale Ave alongside the Yale Bowl. Pete said we could stay as long after the game as we'd like since we parked only fifteen minutes prior to kickoff. We basically unpacked and most of us headed into the game. After the game we enjoyed beers and other libations. Megan Ward's chili went over big as did Laura Lehr's guacomole. The kids played ball along the sidewalk as a cop on a white horse patrolled near our bus. Drunk college students tried to help themselves to our food and bathroom on the bus. As Frank Scarpa said, "Back in those days, I would have, too!" On the way up, we played the DVD, "We are Marshall!" On the way back, the kids voted for "Rudy" over "Night at the Museum". We had a good football weekend. Lenape Valley Patriot League president Kristin Bonnefond and I talked about reviewing next year's Midget/PeeWee slate to plan a local college game again for a fundraiser. We'll see what we can do.