Harvard–Yale football rivalry

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Harvard–Yale football rivalry
Harvard Crimson.svg Yale Logo.svg
Harvard Crimson Yale Bulldogs
First game played November 13, 1875
Played annually since 1897
(Not played 1917–1918 due to World War I; 1943–44 due to World War II)
Games played 133 (through 2016)
Series record Yale leads, 66–59–8
Largest margin of victory Yale 54, Harvard 0
(November 23, 1957)
Highest scoring game Yale 33, Harvard 31
(November 20, 1993)
Lowest scoring game Yale 0, Harvard 0
(last time: November 21, 1925)
Most recent game Yale 21, Harvard 14
(November 19, 2016)
Next game November 18, 2017
Current win streak Yale, 1

The Harvard–Yale football rivalry is renewed annually with The Game, an American college football contest between the Harvard Crimson football team of Harvard University and the Yale Bulldogs football team of Yale University. Yale leads the series 66–59–8.

"Harvard and Yale generally duke it out in the academic arena"[1] but geographic proximity, the history of Yale's founding,[2][3] and social competition between the respective student bodies and alumni contingents animate the athletic rivalry.

Harvard football head coach Joe Restic, who held position for 23 seasons, quipped regarding his relationship with retired Yale football head coach and National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame member Carm Cozza, who held position for 32 seasons: "Each year, we're friends for 364 days and rivals for one."

The undergraduate, graduate and alumni communities agree on their appropriate archrival. The signature Harvard fight song, "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard," names Yale in the famous final stanza.[4]The song is sung in the Harvard football lockerroom after each victory.[5]

"March On Down The Field" is Yale's signature fight song, and Harvard is the foe named.[6]

The Game is a tribal touchstone consistent with football's historic position in American collegiate and alumni culture. The football rivalry is among the most admired rivalries on the contemporary American athletic scene. The schools and the rivalry established the template for American college football.[7][8][9]


"A whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard" from Moby-Dick by Herman Melville examples public fascination with both institutions.[10]

The University of Mississippi's first football team, organized by Alexander Bondurant, adopted yale blue and crimson for team colors in 1893.[11]

Burns, Baby Burns, fourth episode - eighth season of The Simpsons, depicts Mr. Burns returning to Springfield after attending the annual Harvard - Yale football game.

Journalism and book publishing provide other examples of general interest. George Plimpton reported in the December 3, 2001 issue of The New Yorker Harvard's victory over Yale ending the Crimson's first undefeated and untied season in several decades.[12] Malcolm Gladwell, in the October 10, 2005 issue of The New Yorker, authored "GETTING IN: The social logic of Ivy League admissions".[13] Jerome Karabel authored in 2005 The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admissions and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

Half-time festivities at The Game, Yale Bowl.

Thomas G. Bergin, better known for commentary on The Divine Comedy and longtime Sterling Professor of Romance Languages at Yale University, authored THE GAME: The Harvard Yale Football Rivalry 1875 - 1983.

Owen Johnson's Dink Stover, George Patten's Frank Merriwell and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tom Buchanan played football for Yale.

The Game is central to the Harvard - Yale athletic rivalry. Sports Illustrated magazine (On Campus edition) in 2006 rated the rivalry as sixth-best among American collegiate athletic rivalries behind, in order, Alabama - Auburn, Duke - North Carolina, UCLA - USC, Army - Navy, and Cal - Stanford.

The football rivalry was ranked in 2015 fifth among college football rivalries by bleacher report and 20th among Athlon Sports's Top 25 rivalries in the history of college football.[14][15]

Historical Importance[edit]

The first contest was held in 1875, two years after the inaugural Princeton - Yale football contest. Only the Princeton – Yale football series, at 139 games, and the Lafayette - Lehigh football series, at 152 games, have been played more often. The series features the first- and second-most winning teams in the Division 1 Championship Subdivision. Yale ranks first with 891 wins, Harvard ranks second with 856 wins.[16]

Yale and Harvard have played major roles in advancing and shaping intercollegiate athletics. Representatives from Harvard, Yale and Princeton were summoned to the White House October 9, 1905 by POTUS Theodore Roosevelt to discuss reforms to mitigate unnecessarily violence, unsportsmanlike play and minimize resultant fatalities and injuries in football. Roosevelt sought reform of rules to quell misgivings about the sport he admired. The era's Progressives, muckrakers, university faculties and presidents—particularly at Harvard, led by its president, Charles W. Eliot and NYU, led by its president Henry MacCracken—and the general public had misgivings about the sport's safety and place in higher and secondary school education. Walter Camp, Bill Reid, and Arthur T. Hillebrand attended the meeting.[17]

The "Grim Reaper Smiles on the Goalposts" cartoon, published December 3, 1905 in the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune depicting the Grim Reaper sitting on the crossbar of a goalpost overlooking a mound of uniformed dead bodies, showed how the press presented the problem. November 25 Union College halfback Harold Moore was knocked unconscious in a game versus NYU. Moore, age 19, died of a cerebral hemorrage six hours later. MacCracken called a meeting of university leaders to suggest protective gear be worn by the athletes.[18] Reformers requested deemphasis or suspension of the sport. The press reported 18 athletes, 15 were high school students,[19] died from football-related injuries during the 1905 season. The era has been described as the "first concussion crisis" for the sport.[20]

A meeting convened December 28, 1905, with 62 schools represented to appoint a rules committee. January 12 the American Football Rules Committee met. March 31 the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States was established, the corporate forerunner to the NCAA.[21]

Rules were changed. The flying wedge was banned, the neutral zone was created, and the distance increased to ten yards from five yards for a first down

Decades later the eight universities that administer athletic programs and competition under the auspices of the Council of Ivy Group of Presidents, better known as the Ivy League, reiterated reforms rooted in requests made during the series of meetings.[22][23] Agreements among the athletics departments at Harvard, Yale and Princeton in 1906, 1916, the "Three Presidents Agreements" on eligibility, and a revision of that agreement in 1923 have been considered percursors to the Ivy Group Agreement, each agreement addressing amateurism and college football.

The Ivy Group Agreement, adopted in 1945, states for football "the players be truly representative of the student body and not comprised of a group of special recruited and trained athletes."[24] Harvard president Nathan Pusey and Yale president A. Whitney Griswold resolved to keep football a sport in line with the highest ideals of higher education and collaborated closely toward the eventual implementation of the Ivy League in 1954 with the "Agreement" extended to all sports.[25]

Some past varsity letterwinners and teams have been noteworthy:

Yale and Harvard coaches, cheerleaders, varsity football letter winners, and student managers include: assistant coach Gerald Ford, cheerleaders George W. Bush and Prescott Bush,[26] Jonathan Bush, College Football Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Amos Alonzo Stagg, Rhodes Scholar, mayor of Baltimore, Dean of Howard Law School and president of University of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke, Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Hersey, packaged goods magnate Philip W. Pillsbury, journalist Stone Phillips, chair American Commission to Negotiate Peace at the Treaty of Versailles and chairman Democratic National Committee Vance McCormick, three-time Pulitzer prize winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Archibald MacLeish, the first professional football player Pudge Heffelfinger, businessman and benefactor Charles B. Johnson, prisoner of war John T. Downey, football coach Bob Shoop, sports executive Ruly Carpenter, Commerce Secretary Frederick Dent, U.S. Senator William Proxmire, U.S. Congressman Malcolm Baldrige, chewing gum magnate and sports executive William Wrigley III for Yale;[27] and Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Treasury Secretary and U.S. Ambassador to France C. Douglas Dillon, Emeritus Professor of Education and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Chester Middlebrook Pierce, United States Marine Corps first lieutenant Eddie Mahan, politician William Henry Lewis, American Academy of Arts and Letters member and relative to Jonathan Edwards and Timothy Dwight IV through the Dwight family Henry D. Sedgwick and his son Robert Minturn Sedgwick, vice-president National Football League Players Association Dan Jiggetts, U.S.Congressmen Hamilton Fish III and Torbert MacDonald, American Academy of Arts and Sciences member Wilder Dwight Bancroft, National Academy of Sciences member W. Barry Wood, Jr., actor Tommy Lee Jones, four-time Grey Cup champion and first overall pick in the 1998 CFL draft Tim Fleiszer, football coach Victor E. Gatto, U.S. Senator John Culver, founder of the Educational Testing Service Henry Chauncey, Legion of Honor recipient and executive Steve Ballmer, and sports journalist Mike Lynch for Harvard;[28]

  • Fifteen Rhodes Scholarship recipients, 8 representing Yale, 7 representing Harvard;[29]
  • Heisman Trophy winners Larry Kelley and Clint Frank (Frank won also the Maxwell Award), both for Yale, and Heisman finalists Endicott Peabody, an offensive lineman for Harvard, and Brian Dowling and Rich Diana, offensive backfield players for Yale;
  • Fifty members of the College Football Hall of Fame, twenty-nine affiliated with Yale and twenty-one affiliated with Harvard, the most recent inductees Dick Jauron from Yale, Class of 2015, and Pat McInally from Harvard, Class of 2016;
  • Over 250 Yale and Harvard football athletes have received some type of All American designation;[30][31]
  • 17 holders of the Asa S. Bushnell Cup, the Player of the Year award for Ivy League football, nine representing Harvard, eight representing Yale;[32]
  • 20 designees to the Ivy League Silver Anniversary Team, 15 from Yale: Ben Balme, John Cahill, Steve Carfora, Elvin Charity, Kevin Czinger, Brian Dowling, Gary Fencik, Calvin Hill, Dick Jauron, Tom Neville, Mike Pyle, John Spagnola, Vic Staffieri, and Clint Streit - and 5 from Harvard: Bob Baggott, Steve Diamond, Bill Emper, Dan Jiggetts, and Pat McInally;[33]
  • 20 winners of the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston's George H. "Bulger" Lowe Award, honoring New England's best collegiate football athlete, 12 from Harvard, 8 from Yale - and 11 winners of the Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award for "academics, athletics, sportsmanship and citizenship," 7 from Yale, 4 from Harvard;[34][35]
  • Super Bowl participants Matt Birk, Rich Diana, John Dockery, Gary Fencik, Pat Graham, Calvin Hill, Kenny Hill, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Pat McInally, Chuck Mercein, and John Spagnola;
  • Fifteen winners of the William J. Bingham '16 Award at Harvard, given to a male athlete(s) of the graduating Harvard College class who has best served the high purpose of Harvard as exemplified by Harvard's first Director of Athletic Sports,[36] and 27 winners of the William Neely Mallory '23 Award at Yale,[37] given to the senior male who, on the field of play and in his life at Yale, best represents the highest ideals of American sportsmanship and Yale tradition;
  • Thirty-one teams, 17 representing Harvard, 14 representing Yale, have won outright or shared the Ivy League football title.


The contests are hosted in stadia listed on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places and are U.S. National Historic Landmarks.

The design of the Rose Bowl and Michigan Stadium are influenced by the Yale Bowl Stadium. When the Bowl was built by Charles Ferry in 1914 the Colosseum of Pompeii in Italy was the only other known structure in the world engineered by digging a hole then using the displaced dirt to build the surrounding wall or berm. Longtime head coach Carm Cozza likened the feeling of running onto the Bowl's field through the tunnel to a gladiator entering the arena.[38][39][40]

Walter Camp had been the long-tenured treasurer of Yale Athletic Union, percursor to later professional athletic department administration. Yale swim athlete and team manager Robert Moses -- acknowledged later in life as the power broker of urban planning and a "master builder" --had disagreements regarding the Athletic Union's treasury. Moses, wrote editorials in two campus papers and lobbied Camp and the administration for larger sums for the minor sports (every sport save football, rowing and hockey) from the fund swelled by football receipts. Camp conceded little. Camp's big idea was to fund eventually the Yale Bowl Stadium.[41] The Walter Camp Memorial Arch greets visitors to the Walter Camp Fields on Derby Avenue in front of the Bowl. A seven person committee, including Yale Law School Dean Robert Hutchins, who would later abolish a storied football program at University of Chicago, raised money for the arch from a variety of sources, including 224 colleges and universities, and 279 high schools and prep schools.[42][43]

Harvard Stadium was built in 1903. The 25th Anniversary Reunion gift by the Harvard Class of 1879 funded generously the project. The stadium is the nation's oldest permanent concrete structure dedicated to intercollegiate athletics. Henry Lee Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, donated the land, known as Soldier's Field, for a memorial to Harvard men who were killed during the American Civil War.

The Stadium mimics a Panathenaic Stadium, a fitting percursor to the arch-rival's Roman architectural response.

Camp accomodated Harvard on the issue of widening the playing field to "open up" play from the almost perpetual rugby scrum that characterized the sport. The rules reform movement, which gained impetus after the 1905 meeting at the White House, demanded action. The present standardized playing field width was as wide as could be accomodated in Harvard Stadium, the first football stadium constructed with reinforced concrete and a pioneering execution in the construction of large structures.

The forward pass rule change was adopted instead of an even wider field. The rule change is mentioned often as the most important in the history of the sport. John Heisman championed the forward pass and is credited with lobbying successfully influential members of the IIAUS American Football Rules Committee to adopt the change.[44][45][46]

Notable contests[edit]


The game, a rugby contest in fact but called "Foot Ball",[47] played November 13 in New Haven, CT at Hamilton Park was won by Harvard.[48] The "Foot Ball Match" was played under "concessionary rules". Harvard conceded to aspects of the soccer-like "Foot Ball" played by Yale with Yale conceding likewise to Harvard's rugby-informed play.[49]

The contest has been noted as the first ever when team members donned coordinated uniforms. The teams fielded fifteen athletes to a side.[50]

Yale dominated the series in the 19th century. Yale would win consecutively ten games and tie once before Harvard would win again, in1890, 12 - 6, and claim a national championship.[51] Yale's record was once 24–4–3 in the series.

"Harvard felt a certain loss of manhood in not winning a single football game with Yale in the eighties and only to win one in the nighties," historian Samuel Eliot Morison noted in Three Centuries of Harvard 1636 - 1936".[52]


The flying wedge was introduced to football November 19. Harvard unveiled the formation at the beginning of the second half before 21,000 spectators.[53] Captain Vance McCormack warned his Yale teammates upon witnessing the formation, "Boys, this is something new but play the game as you have been taught. Keep your eyes open and do not let them draw you in."[54]

Lorin F. Deland, an unpaid adviser to the Harvard team and an avid chess player, suggested the tactic. Yale won, 6–0.

The flying wedge was outlawed two years after its introduction.[55] Bergin writes: "The legacy of the wedge is perceptible in the austere rules of today's game, by which a 'man in motion' can run away from the line literally, but if he takes a step forward before the ball is snapped his team is penalized. Offensive lineman must not move a muscle or even turn their heads before the snap."[56]

Deland would coach Harvard for three games in 1895 and co-author with Walter Camp the seminal Football published in 1896.[57][58]

Mass-momentum plays based on the flying wedge were the rage in the sport. The result was mayhem that eventually prompted intervention in 1905 by Teddy Roosevelt to help reform rules governing play.[59]


November 24 Yale won, 12–4, in Springfield, MA at Hampden Park.[60][61] The contest is known for on-field and off-field violence.

In the era before players employed protective equipment of any type, the result of rough play was a given; however, competition between the Yale and Harvard football programs was placed on hiatus, seven players denoted in "dying condition" after the contest, according to the German daily newspaper Munchener Nachrichten.[62]

Frank Hinkey has been alleged to have broken the collarbone of a Harvard player following a fair catch. "Accounts vary widely as to what happened in the Harvard – Yale game of 1894," notes author Julie Des Jardins.[63] Violence ensued among fans after the contest in the streets of Springfield.[64]

The Harvard faculty voted by a two-to-one margin to abolish football. Harvard President Charles W. Eliot supported the faculty.[65] Eliot opined, "Football is to academics what bull fighting is to agriculture."[66]

The Harvard Corporation sided, however, with alumni and students who championed the sport.[67] The Harvard Board of Overseers invited Camp to chair an investigative committee to determine the extent of "character-building" as well as "brutality" on college and prep school football fields. Rev. Joseph Twichell, Endicott Peabody and Henry E. Howland were among the committee's members.[68]

Ray Tompkins, a former teammate of Camp as well as a two-time captain at the guard position,[69] confided to Camp during the crisis of '94 that football was too American to be abrogated by any one or more faculty.[70] Tompkins later would be namesake to the building, Ray Tompkins House, that is the administrative headquarters for Yale athletics.[71]

Yale and Harvard took a two-year hiatus on the football rivalry. The programs have played annually excluding the World War I and World War II annually ever since.


November 19 two future members of the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame showcased apt athletic and leadership ability. Both would later coach the Crimson. Bill Reid, a fullback, scored two touchdowns versus Yale. Harvard achieved a rare victory in the series, its third in 19 contests. Reid was rewarded with his picture published in Harper's Weekly.[72] Percy D. Haughton captained the Crimson.

The now traditional end of season scheduling of the contest started this date and continues to the present.


November 21 before an estimated crowd of 40,000 Harvard hosts Yale for the first time at Harvard Stadium. Yale won, 16–0. A crowd of 30,000 saw contest at Yale Field in 1902.[73]


The game played November 21 marked the end of a six-game winning streak for Yale. Harvard won, 4–0, on a field goal by Victor Kennard, a fullback, at Yale Field in Orange, CT. Hamilton Fish III, captain of the 1909 team (and acting captain 1908 when that year's captain was injured) was a mainstay at tackle the 1907–1909 seasons.

Percy Haughton, Harvard's first professional coach and captain of the 1898 team, was understood to had strangled to death a live bulldog during the pregame pep talk. This contest was his first as a head coach versus Yale. Contemporary research concludes that at worse Haughton "strangled" a papier mache bulldog and tied another such creation to the back fender of his automobile.[74]


November 20 in Boston Harvard and Yale competed for the national championship.[75] Ted Coy captained Yale squad that shutout Harvard, 8 - 0.

Harvard fielded two future NFF/College Football Hall of Fame members, Bob Fisher - a future head coach for the Crimson, and Hamilton Fish. Including the win wrought the season before by Haughton Harvard was 9 - 2 - 2, with the interuption of the first World War, 1908 - 1922.


The game played on November 21 was the inaugural event at the Yale Bowl. William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt were said to be among the spectators, a throng estimated at more than 70,000 but less than 74,000.[76] Harvard won, 36–0.


November 20 Harvard defeats Yale 41–0, the program's largest margin of victory in the series. Eddie Mahan scores 4 touchdowns and kicks five extra points.

During the business week before the Yale game and subsequent to the Brown game, won 16 - 7 by Harvard, William J. Bingham authored an announcement under byline in the November 15 issue of the Harvard Crimson.[77] Bingham thought poorly of the cheering and singing among students at the Brown game, and announced a pep rally for Thursday to support Mahan and coach Haughton before the Yale game. Bingham, a track star, was appointed Harvard's first Athletic Director a decade later.


Coach Bob Fisher's 1919 Harvard Crimson football team concluded an undefeated regular season November 22 with a 10 – 3 victory at the Stadium. Harvard won later the 1920 East – West Tournament Bowl, now known as the Rose Bowl, versus the Oregon Webfoots, now known as the Oregon Ducks, 10–7.


November 24 the game was played on, according to Grantland Rice, "a gridiron of seventeen lakes, five quagmires and a water hazard," in Boston.[78] Yale won, 13–0. Ducky Pond, future Yale head and All American for the season, returned a fumble 67 yards for a touchdown, Yale's first touchdown versus Harvard since World War I.[79]

Yale head coach T.A. Dwight Jones, future member of the College Football Hall of Fame, advised before kickoff, "Gentlemen, you are about to play Harvard. You will never do anything else so important for the rest of your lives."[80]


November 21 contest showcased the final gridiron competition between Yale captain Albie Booth and Harvard captain Barry Wood, who lettered three times each in football, ice hockey and baseball.

Harvard was undefeated for the first time entering the Yale contest. Yale was 3–1–2. Booth kicked a late fourth quarter field goal, the sole points scored.


November 21 Yale won, 14–13, at the Bowl. Heisman Trophy winner Larry Kelley captained the squad. Future Heisman trophy winners Clint Frank and Kelley collaborated on 42 yard pass play, Kelley scoring, to forge a 14 - 0 halftime lead. Harvard missed an extra point in the fourth quarter and Yale held on for the win.[81] Yale, with a 7–1 record, was ranked 12th in the final AP Poll.[82]


November 20 Harvard won, 13–6, through snow flurries at the Stadium. The teams rushing attacks totalled 434 yards. Harvard's Torbert Macdonald gained 102 yards on 10 carries, Yale's Al Hessberg gained 98 yards on 15 carries. Clint Frank scored on an one yard run in the third quarter.[83]

Yale's second Heisman Trophy winner played with a severe injury most of the contest but made "fifty tackles" according to Stanley Woodward, the sports journalist credited with the first printed mention of the "ivy colleges" or Ivy League, of the New York Herald Tribune.[84] Woodward hailed Frank "the best football player we have seen" since World War I.[85] The 1937 Yale Bulldogs football team finished again 12th in the final AP Poll ranking.


November 22 was Harvard senior Endicott Peabody's final performance versus Yale. Peabody started for three straight seasons on the offensive line.

Harvard shut out Yale, 28 - 0, in 1940, and shut out Yale 14 - 0 in 1941.

Peabody finished sixth in the balloting for the season's Heisman Trophy.[86] The namesake and grandson of the founder of the Groton School for Boys would later serve a term as Governor of Massachusetts.


The November 19 game, won by Yale, 29–6, in New Haven, featured the first African-American captain and hometown hero, Levi Jackson. The Yale captain had been a sergeant in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps during World War II before matriculating at Yale.


November 22 Yale won, 41–14, at the Stadium. The box score noted Charley Yeager scored Yale's 40th and 41st points on a pass, a two-point conversion. Yeager was Yale's head football manager, wearing a pristine jersey numbered 99 as he scored.


The November 19 game was won by Yale, 21–7. Ted Kennedy, in jersey numbered 88, caught a pass for a touchdown in the third quarter for Harvard's sole touchdown in New Haven on a snowy day before a crowd that included his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, Connecticut's governor Abe Ribicoff and New York City's mayor Robert F. Wagner.[87] Denny McGill scored Yale's 20th point on an interception. Yale's rushing yardage was 225 compared with Harvard's 78.[88]


November 24 Denny McGill, winner of the season's George H. "Bulger" Award,[89] gained 116 yards on 8 carrries and scored on two-yard and 78-yard runs to stake Yale a 14 - 0 lead.[90]

The Ivy League athletic conference became fully operational in 1956. Yale won the first Ivy League football title with an undefeated, untied record playing a round-robin schedule versus Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn, concluding the season with a 42–14 victory in Boston.


Mike Pyle, future Chicago Bears center and NFL All-Pro, captained an undefeated, untied Yale team to the 1960 Ivy League football title, an end of season 14th place on the AP Poll, and a share of the Lambert Trophy after Yale routed Harvard, 37 – 6, November 19. Pyle, who captained the 1963 NFL Championship-winning Bears, lead the last untied and undefeated Yale team since 1923.


The game played November 30 was postponed from November 23 in mourning for assassinated POTUS John F. Kennedy, Harvard College, Class of 1940 and Yale University 1962 honorand and commencement speaker.[91] JFK earned a JV football letter at Harvard.


The game played November 23 was highlighted by the Crimson scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds to tie a highly-touted Bulldog squad. Yale had a 16-game winning streak. Both teams were 8–0. For the first time since 1909 both adversaries were undefeated and untied for the contest. Yale was ranked 16th in a national college football poll. Calvin Hill, soon to be the first ever and only Ivy League football athlete selected in the First Round of the NFL draft, by the Dallas Cowboys, and Tommy Lee Jones were in uniform.[92] Both were eventual First Team All – Ivy selections, Hill as a running back, Jones as an offensive linemen.

The third place Penn Quakers won five League games by close scores but were defeated by Harvard 28 - 6 and Yale 30 - 13.[93]

The Yale roster included two future Rhodes Scholars, Kurt Schmoke and Tom Neville. The Harvard roster included one future Rhodes Scholar, Paul Saba.

Yale lost six fumbles, a record, during the contest.[94]

The outcome inspired The Harvard Crimson to print the logically impossible "Harvard Beats Yale, 29–29" headline.[95] This headline was later used as the title for a 2008 documentary about this Game, directed by Kevin Rafferty.[96]

John T. Downey, a Yale football letterwinner before joining the CIA, was a prisoner-of-war in 1968. His Chinese captors allowed correspondences from home while he endured solitary confinement.

Downey received from a friend a postcard announcing Yale had won 29 - 13. Months later he learned of the "loss".[97]


November 22 Yale outlasted Harvard 7 - 0 and shared the League football title, finishing 6 - 1, with Dartmouth and Princeton. Future NFL defensive back and coach Don Martin and Bill Primps, who scored the sole touchdown, combined for 162 rushing yards.[98] Captain Andy Coe lead the defense to the shutout. Harvard's offense advanced to the Yale ten yard line in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter but missed anticlimactically a 32-yard field goal attempt moments before game time expired.[99]


November 25 Yale overcomes 17–6 halftime deficit with 22 second half points on the road. Dick Jauron, who rushed for 183 yards setting the all-time record in the series,[100] and captain Dick Perschel lead the Bullogs to the come from behind victory in Boston. Harvard's Ted DeMars rushed for 153 yards, including an 86 yard first quarter touchdown. Yale won 28 - 17, holding Harvard scoreless in the second half.

Jauron, among a myriad of awards, wins Gridiron Club of Greater Boston George H. "Bulger" Lowe award for the season.[101]


November 22 Harvard Stadium was the setting for a Harvard 95-yard late fourth quarter drive that defeated an undefeated and untied Yale team. Senior quarterback, first year starter and All Ivy First Team football selection Milt Holt lead the Harvard offense to the winning touchdown through a Yale defense that lead the League in many statistical categories. Holt scored on a sweep around left end for Harvard's 20th point. The Crimson won, 21 – 16. Harvard and Yale both finished the season 6–1 in the League and shared the title.

Gary Fencik caught 11 passes for 187 yards in the losing effort.


The game played November 22 in New Haven—the outcome elevating Harvard to its first undisputed League football championship (it had shared titles three other seasons since 1956, the League's first year) – featured future Chicago Bears teammates Harvard captain Dan Jiggetts and Yale captain Gary Fencik. Fencik helped win Super Bowl XX and a Gold Record with the Bears.

Harvard won, 10–7, on a fourth quarter field goal by Mike Lynch with 0:33 on the official time clock.


Future three-time Super Bowl champion Kenny Hill ran well from the I formation, 154 yards on 25 carries, and scored down a sideline on an 18-yard pitchout,[102] and Yale won, 35–28, in Boston, November 18. But Larry Brown, Harvard's senior quarterback, set a Harvard standard for touchdown passes in The Game. Neil Rose, Ryan Fitzpatrick, a future NFL starting quarterback, and Chris Pizzotti would each toss four touchdowns versus Yale in 2001, 2003, and 2007, respectively, matching Brown.[103]

The most memorable pass of the afternoon was tossed by a future participant in Super Bowl XV. Tight end John Spagnola, a future eleven year NFL veteran and participant in Super Bowl XV, lofted a spiral to fellow receiver Bob Krystyniak for a touchdown to conclude a trick play. The extra point provided the 21-point cushion Brown almost wore out with two more touchdown passes.[104]


Harvard upset, 22–7, an undefeated, untied, 13.5 point Las Vegas-favored Yale team in New Haven before an estimated crowd of 72,000.[105] Harvard running back Jim Callinan and the offense set the tone November 17 with an opening game drive of 74 yards, 64 by the run, on 17 plays. Callinan caught a 23-yard touchdown pass later in the afternoon.

Harvard lost its original starting quarterback and backup before the season opener, then other quarterbacks were injured over the eight games leading to the finale versus Yale.[106] Harvard finished season 3 – 6.


The game played on November 19 marked the 100th time the programs met on the gridiron. Harvard won, 16–7, in New Haven. Yale lead series 54–38– 8.


The game played on November 21 at the Bowl featured conditions similar to the 1967 NFL Championship Game in Green Bay, WI. Game time temps were slightly below zero degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chill temperatures sometimes as low as minus-30 throughout the day. Harvard won, 14–10

Joe Restic guided the team to an 8 -2 overall and 6–1 Ivy League records, both bests for Restic. Harvard won the League football title.


November 20 a gameball was presented to Theo Epstein, a Yale Daily News sports section editor. Epstein authored a column calling for Yale Head Coach Carm Cozza to retire, published the day before the 108th contest in the series. The column appeared to arouse the Bulldogs. Harvard, the program playing its last game under Joe Restic, appeared aroused, too. The 33–31 outcome is the all – time highest combined score in the series. Both teams had each won one game, and not versus Princeton, in the League entering the contest.

Epstein as a sports executive would eventually lead MLB's Boston Red Sox and later the Chicago Cubs to World Series victories, each for the first time in many decades.


November 18 in New Haven, Harvard, 1–6 in the League, defeated Yale, 22–21. Coach Murphy's charges would soon dominate the series. Murphy is an astounding 17–6 versus four Yale counterparts, including Carm Cozza.


November 20 quarterback Eric Walland and receiver Eric Johnson set single game Yale records for passing yardage, passing attempts and completions, 437 yards on 42 completions from 67 attempts, and receiving yardage and receptions, 244 yards and 21 catches.[107] Yale won the contest on a touchdown pass to Johnson from Walland with 0:29 remaining in the game.

Yale rallied late and in thrilling fashion to win the year before and the year after.[108]


November 17 Harvard defeated Yale, 35–23, in New Haven. The win sealed the Crimson's first perfect season since 1913. Percy Haughton had last lead Harvard to undefeated and untied seasons, 9 - 0, in 1912 and 1913. Yale's three-game win streak in the series ended. Neil Rose completed four touchdown passes.


November 20 the 2004 Harvard Crimson football team, a team that eight times scored at least 30 points against an opponent during the season, completed the program's third undefeated season with a 35 - 3 victory versus Yale. Future NFL quarterback and Buffalo Bills captain Ryan Fitzpatrick earned the season's Frederick Greeley Crocker award as team MVP and the Asa Bushnell Cup as League Player of the Year. Fifteen Harvard athletes were name to the All-Ivy squad.[109] The undefeated season was Tim Murphy's second in four seasons.

Yale undergraduate pranksters, led by Michael Kai and David Aulicino, won handily. The 2004 Harvard-Yale prank gained national press coverage through the early part of the week following the contest. Jimmy Kimmel Live! among other news, sports and entertainment media, gave notice that Harvard fans raised cards in unison that read WE SUCK. Yale fans applauded appreciatively in acknowledgement from the other side of Soldier Field.[110]


Clifton Dawson's 258th carry for the season, a record, delivered to Harvard the triple-overtime victory, 30 – 24, November 19 in New Haven. The contest was the longest ever at the Bowl and in Ivy League football history. Yale led, 21 – 3, in the third quarter.

Dawson is the Crimsom leader in career rushing attempts (958), career rushing yards (4,241), single-season rushing yards (1,302), career rushing touchdowns (60), and single-season rushing touchdowns (20).[111]


The November 21 contest concluded horribly for Tom Williams. The Yale Head Coach nursed a 10 – 0 halftime lead to a 10 – 7 lead late in the fourth quarter. Then Williams, on fourth down and 22 yards to go for a first down from the Yale 26, chose to fake a punt. The attempt netted fifteen yards.

Harvard was behind 10 - 0 late in the fourth quarter. Harvard scored its first touchdown after covering 76 yards in six plays. When Yale's fake punt failed Collier Winter soon passed to Chris Lorditch for the winning touchdown. Moments later Harvard linebacker Jon Takamura intercepted a pass to end the game.[112]


Conner Hempel completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Fischer with 0:55 remaining in the contest and Harvard defeated Yale 31–24 to capture outright the League football title November 22. A Yale victory would have created a three-way tie for the League football title among Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale. Harvard led 24–7 at the end if the third quarter.

The Emmy-winning ESPN College GameDay was broadcast from Boston. Lee Corso predicted Yale would win on the premiere college football television show.[113] Tyler Varga gained 127 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns for Yale but Harvard completed the season undefeated and untied, the third time during Tim Murphy's tenure.

Deon Randall for Yale and Norm Hayes for Harvard captained the teams, the first time African American athletes had represented each rival at the opening coin toss.


The game played November 21 was the first football game that ended after sunset at the Bowl. The 2:30 kickoff forced play after dusk. Harvard won, 38–19, extending to nine games its winning streak versus Yale, the longest winning streak in the series. Harvard shared the League title, the third straight season it shared or won outright the title, another school record. Tim Murphy celebrates his ninth career Ivy League football title. He is two behind Carmen Cozza and tied with Al Bagnoli among coaches.

Dick Jauron was honored between the first and second quarters for election to the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame.


The game played November 19 in Boston ended two streaks. Harvard was denied a fourth consecutive shared or outright Ivy League football title, and Yale ended a nine-game losing streak versus Harvard. Yale twice took advantage of brilliant special teams play. Yale won, 21–14.

Firstyear quarterback Kurt Rawlings ran for 84 yards and tossed two second-half touchdown passes to classmate wide receiver Reed Klubnik. The other touchdown occurred after Yale faked a field goal, passed, and gained a first down. "It was the last thing we talked about in our special teams meeting on Friday," Tim Murphy, one of the greatest head football coaches in the history of Ivy League and Harvard football, said postgame to the Hartford Courant and other media organizations of the successful fake field goal attempt. Holder Andrew Johnson completed a jump pass for the first down. Firstyear running back Alan Lamar scored on a third down one yard rush to tie the game at 7 before halftime.

Yale opened the second first with an off-side kick that was recovered easily by Yale's kicking specialist. Yale capitalized when Rawlings connected with Klubnik for the first of two touchdowns.

Captain and linebacker Darius Manora lead the defense versus a talented Harvard offense. The 3 - 7 Bulldogs salvaged the season with the victory over the 7 - 3 Crimson. Yale had surrendered an average of 36.1 points a game before the contest.

Noteworthy Pranks[edit]


Prior to The Game Handsome Dan II, Yale's bulldog mascot, was kidnapped (allegedly by members of the Harvard Lampoon); then, the morning after a 19–6 upset by Harvard over Yale, after hamburger was smeared on the feet of the statue of John Harvard that sits in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, an image was captured of Handsome Dan licking John Harvard's feet. The photo ran on the front page of papers throughout the country.[114]


Two staffers of the Harvard College paper published and distributed a mock copy of The Yale Daily News, datelined November 22, 1969. Readers were greeted with headlines "Disease Strikes 16 Eli Football Starters; Bulldogs Forced to Forfeit Harvard Game" and "Last Year's Stars Want to Fill in". Female cheerleaders were the alleged source of a std rampaging through the football roster. Yale was in its first semester of coeducation.[115]


The card stunt was well designed, managed and executed. Yale students, costumed as the Harvard pep squad, handed out placards to some 1,800 Harvard partisans. When raised on cue, the cards displayed WE SUCK to applause from Yale students, alumni and fans across the field. Harvard won the game, 35–3.

Harvard students refused to believe eyewitnesses to the prank until video confirmed the obvious. The prank was featured in various print media, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and MSNBC.[116]

MIT "Hacks"[edit]

MIT has a roster of hilarious "Hacks" against supposed haughtiness by Harvard. Both universities are located in Cambridge, MA.

During the second quarter in 1982 at Harvard Stadium, a Harvard score was immediately followed by a huge black weather balloon inflating near midfield. "MIT" was proclaimed in painted letters on the slowly inflating balloon until it exploded, spraying powder over a few square yards of the field. Again in Harvard Stadium, MIT students secretly replaced the "VE-RI-TAS" insignia on the scoreboard with "HU-GE-EGO" in 2006.[117]

Little Red Flag[edit]

Harvard's Little Red Flag.jpg

The Little Red Flag is a talisman that since 1884 has been waved by Harvard's "most loyal fan" after each score by Harvard against Yale. The original pennant was made of brick-red and magenta silk with an olive "H" stitched to one side. That pennant was retired to a secret location when Paul Lee assumed the honor of waving a replacement after each score by Harvard.

The tradition began with Frederick Plummer, class of 1888, who attended the Harvard-Yale game 59 times between 1884 and his death in 1948. In 1950, when the flag appeared among the various unassigned items in Plummer's estate, William Bentinck-Smith, then editor of the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, suggested awarding the honor of carrying the flag on game day to the Harvard man in attendance who had seen the largest number of Yale games – and, for the 1951 game, it was awarded to Spencer Borden, class of 1894. The succession of holders has continued consecutively with Allen Rice, Richard P. Hallowell, Douglas Hamilton, James Dwinell, Harold Sedgewick, Sam McDonnell, Burdette Johnson, William Markus, Paul Lee, and Dick Bennink.[118][119]

See also[edit]


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