Columbia's re-building program took a step in the wrong direction today, as Harvard opened defense of its Ivy title with a 34-10 pre-registration triumph at the stadium.
Harvard overpowered Columbia in the first half, taking an early 7-0 lead with less than four minutes gone in the game. After Lou Bernieri recovered a Columbia fumble on the Lions' first play from scrimmage, quarterback Jim Kubacki needed just four plays to produce the Crimson's first touchdown of the season.
On third down from Columbia's 18-yardline Kubacki found tight end Bob McDermott breaking free down the left sideline and the senior tight end, who lead the Ivies with seven touchdown receptions a year ago, gave Harvard an early advantage.
The remainder of the first quarter was as exciting as a daytime soap opera as both teams exhibited signs of first game sluggishness.
Columbia opened the second quarter with its first sustained march of the afternoon. After taking possession on their own 24-yard line, the Lions drove to Harvard's 8-yardline before settling for a 26-yard field goal by Bob McKeon.
With a 7-3 lead, the Crimson appeared on its way to increasing the advantage on its next set of downs, but reserve tight end Paul Sablock, after an 11-yard reception, fumbled the ball over to the Lions on Columbia's 30-yardline. Sablock was taking the place of McDermott, who was injured on the previous series.
Two punt exchanges later, the Crimson offense began to roll once more. Aided by a Columbia penalty that was tacked on to an 11-yard screen pass from Kubacki to Tommy Winn, Harvard reached the Lions' 33-yardline. Kubacki then stole a play from the 1975 game films, as he threw a bullet into the heart of the Columbia secondary that ended up in the arms of an unprotected Jim Curry. Mike Lynch's conversion made is 14-3, and Jimmy the Greek, who had made the Crimson a 17-point favorite, looked smarter every minute.
By half-time, he looked like a genius, for on its next possession Harvard scored again. First Winn picked up 17 yards on a screen pass and then two runs by Kubacki for 12 and 8 yards, brought the ball down to the 7 yardline.
After two incompletions in the endzone, Lynch kicked a 24-yard field goal to cap an eight play, 49-yard drive.
Lynch's boot, which came with just 14 seconds left in the half, gave the Crimson a 17-3 lead.
While Harvard only managed to pick up one more first down than Columbia in the first half, the Crimson outgained the Lions 112 to 23 yards in the air, as Kubacki hit five of ten passes, two of them for touchdowns.
The highlight for Columbia in the opening minutes of the second half was its decision to go for a first down on a fourth-and-one situation from its own 40. The Lions succeeded, but on the very next play, in typical Columbia fashion, running back Bruce "Magic" Stephens lost his touch and fumbled.
Russ Savage recovered for the Crimson, but Kubacki soon returned the favor by tossing an interception on Harvard's second play.
Thanks to an infield pop-up of a punt by the Lions' McKeon, the Crimson next took over on Columbia's 33, and this time Kubacki wasn't as generous.
On third and one, he gave the ball to Winn on a quick opener, and the senior halfback charged to the 2-yardline before the Lions realized that the ball had been snapped. Winn then hurdled over the line on the next play, and the game, for all intents and purposes, was over.
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