AP Was There: 50th anniversary of famed Harvard-Yale tie

November 16, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Harvard and Yale were both undefeated in 1968 heading into what was already almost a century-old rivalry, so that year’s edition of The Game was destined to be remembered on both campuses no matter how it ended.

But what an ending it was.

Harvard rallied from a 22-0 deficit, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds for a result the school newspaper commemorated with the headline: “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”

The Tie shared the sports pages the next day with O.J. Simpson breaking the NCAA record for rushing yards in a season, and baseball announcing plans for to decide the pennants with its first five-game playoffs. In basketball, UCLA was a unanimous pick as preseason No. 1 in what was then The Associated Press Top 10; Lew Alcindor — not yet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — and John Wooden would lead the Bruins to the third of what would become seven straight NCAA titles.

The golden age of sports coincided with a tumultuous time across the country, from the rioting at the Democratic National Convention, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. On the Harvard and Yale campuses, some students protested the Vietnam War; others, including Crimson safety Pat Conway, had fought in it.

Fifty years later, the schools meet for the 135th time this Saturday at Fenway Park — their first neutral site since 1894.

Here is the story that the AP sent to its member newspapers from The Game on Nov. 23, 1968:


Harvard Rallies To Tie Yale 29 To 29

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Second-string quarterback Frank Champi threw two touchdown strikes in the final 42 seconds and then passed for a two-point conversion with no time left to give Harvard a 29-29 tie with Yale Saturday.

The ancient rivals finished their seasons with 8-0-1 records and now share the Ivy and Big Three titles.

Champi, a junior, came off the bench to replace George Lalich with five minutes left in the first half. He passed 15 yards to Bruce Freeman for Harvard’s first touchdown and the first of Champi’s three scoring passes, 39 seconds before half time.

He threw another 15-yarder to Freeman with 42 seconds left and capped his afternoon’s work with a scrambling eight-yard pitch to Vic Gatto and a two-point conversion toss to Pete Varney after the final gun.

Harvard scored its tying points after Yale’s Brad Lee fumbled an on-side kickoff and Bill Kelly recovered at the Bulldog’s 49.

Champi then ran for 14 yards and a face-mask penalty against Yale put the ball on the 20. Two passes fell incomplete but fullback Gus Crim crashed 14 yards to the six with 14 seconds left. The clock ran for 11 yards as Champi was unable to find a receiver and lost two yards.

With three seconds left he ran from side to side looking to pass and finally spotted Gatto in the end zone.

Until Harvard’s magnificent rally Yale’s Brian Dowling had turned the game into his own personal plaything, sparking the Bulldogs to a 22-0 lead in the first 22½ minutes. The senior quarterback, playing his final varsity game, scored Yale’s first and last touchdowns, passed for the other two and seemingly iced the game by scoring from five yards out with 10:44 remaining to play.


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Source: AP via Aberdeen (South Dakota) Daily News.


The AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report.

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