There is a ritualistic quality to this 81-year-old rivalry—this annual communion celebrated over the game of football and two of its earliest apostles. For that reason all 38,240 seats in Harvard's venerable Soldier's Field, the oldest of America's great stadiums, were regarded around the city of Boston with the same respect as the bean and the cod, and even 1,000 standees were willing to brave the wintry New England blasts to watch these rites from the roof of the stadium's colonnade.
There was, however, the added attraction of a Yale team as good as any in possibly two or three decades—on the days when it is in a mood to play. Although injuries had sidelined several of them, seven of the first string were seniors, and the starting backfield of Vern Loucks, Dennis McGill, Al Ward and Steve Ackerman could be rated favorably with any starting quartet in the country.
Perhaps because their football careers were ending, these exceptional football players were in the mood to play one of their finest games against Harvard. Seven minutes after the kickoff, McGill scored for the first time, and the touchdown parade was on its way. In the second quarter McGill took a pitchout from Loucks and ran 78 yards to score again. Not to be outdone, Ward, the other halfback, took a Harvard kickoff two minutes later and ran it back 79 yards for a third touchdown. Although Harvard, as it always will against Yale, played the kind of football from time to time that might beat anyone, it was only too obvious that this was Yale's day. Harvard's seven-man line, with the secondary rigidly anchored on its flanks, could not hope to arrest an attack with the versatility, power and speed of Yale's. Perhaps no college team could have on the farewell appearance of the great Yale seniors.
December 3, 1956
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 10
NBC-TV'S Game of the Week last Saturday was a raw, rugged football match which let 25 million Americans see USC defeat the Bruins for the first time since 1952.
The prevailing theory about the harum-skarum Trojans is that giving them the football is like giving a 5-year-old a loaded gun. No telling what will happen, but chances are they will hurt themselves some way or other, and these odds looked good to Coach Red Sanders of UCLA. He ordered his team to lose no time presenting the ball to USC on early-down kicks. Only this time the Trojans pointed the barrel right at the heart of the UCLA team—Guard Esker Harris, Center Jim Matheny and Linebacker Don Shinnick. Matheny was carried out by the start of the second half; Harris got so provoked and frustrated he began to trade punches and was thrown out of the game; and the indestructible Shinnick was the only bona fide first-stringer the Bruins had on hand when the final whistle blew.
The only thing which prevented a rout was UCLA's ponderous punter Kirk Wilson. He kept USC at bay constantly, but the Trojans kept storming back until they got within eyeshot of the UCLA goal. Then their ball carriers would suddenly begin to disappear as though they had stepped into a school of piranha fish.
In the final analysis, the Trojans not only committed no mistakes—they finessed the game. The ball was on the UCLA 14-yard line in the third quarter. Trojan Fullback C. R. Roberts took a pitchout and began to drive to the weak side. UCLA linebackers waited, licking their chops—but Roberts suddenly stopped and lobbed a fluttery pass to End Hillard Hill. Ted Williams couldn't have caused more confusion by bunting with the bases loaded. Ellsworth Kissinger's field goal actually sewed up the margin of victory but Roberts' pass won it.
PENN STATE 7
Trooping sadly off the field with the players, Alexander Salvaterra, a frail little man, who, like other Pitt dads, had sat on the bench, muttered:
"We should have won it."
In the stony silence of the Pitt dressing room, the acting captain, Fullback Ralph Jelic, was muttering too:
"It was just like losing."
As a matter of fact, both Penn State and Pitt had several good chances to win the 56th renewal of a savage backyard brawl in sub-freezing Pitt Stadium. But they settled for a deserved 7-7 standoff.
Penn State broke the ice early in the second quarter of this furious battle on half-frozen turf before a blanket-and-parka crowd of 52,000. Milt Plum, as versatile a quarterback as there is anywhere, made the key play in a 61-yard scoring drive by circling Pitt's right end for six yards on fourth down to lug the ball to the seven. State bit off the remaining yardage in two chunks, with Billy Kane diving inside Pitt's left tackle for the touchdown.
The Panthers came back after the following kickoff and traveled 78 yards to even the score. Corny Salvaterra, who was half a hero and later nearly the goat, threw a high lobbing pass for the final 18 yards. End Rob Rosborough snared it in the extreme corner of the end zone. Bugs Bagamery made the conversion. That was it.
Lynn (Pappy) Waldorf went out in triumph when California defeated Stanford 20 to 18 in the 59th Big Game. Portly Pappy had announced his retirement after 10 years at Berkeley in a squad meeting on the Tuesday before the game. That may have been just what lit the fire under the underdog Bears, because they marched to scores the first three times they grabbed the ball. A jammed stadium of 81,410 remained to see the game ball placed in Pappy's large paws as he was lifted to shoulder pads and paraded around the field.
Stanford has lived by the pass all season, and thrice has died by the toe. Losses to UCLA (13-14) and Oregon State (19-20) kicked the Indians out of the Rose Bowl. Halfback Mike Raftery failed to hit on three against Cal, and this time the Indians were kicked out of the Honolulu Pineapple Bowl. The offer held only if Stanford won the Big Game.
Stanford went out to win this one on the ground. They made 284 yards rushing, 209 yards of it by Fullback Valli alone. But when Cal's 20-6 lead began to look ominous, John Brodie, the Indians' fantastic quarterback, took to the air and pitched nine strikes in 18 attempts for 92 yards, and, even so, he was unlucky.
The California defense rose up respectfully as the game waned. The lead was protected, and another Big Game had ended "typically"—with an upset.
In a 21-yard touchdown play that helped ruin OSU's hopes for a third straight Big Ten title, Michigan Halfback Terry Barr takes a flat pass from Jim Van Pelt on Ohio's 22-yard line. Breaking into the clear, Barr (41) feints OSU's Tom Dillman (50) to his knees, spins, dances past Frank Ellwood (24) at the OSU 15-yard line and heads into the end zone as Don Clark (18) makes futile dive.
THE ELEVEN BEST OF 1956