files from my experiences as a
graduate student at Syracuse University, I've found a program from a
thrilling football game I attended.
played on Saturday afternoon, October 18, 1969, during college
football's centennial year.
open the program and look at the pictures.
was Archbold Stadium, an
ancient concrete bowl located where the Carrier Dome would later be
built. On that day, the 62-year-old stadium set an attendance
record of 42,491. My seat in
the student section is marked on the photo below.
walking to class earlier that week, I remember seeing the homecoming
floats being prepared in front of the Greek houses on Comstock
Avenue. At the athletic department offices in the Mens
Gym (in the foreground of the photo above), I used my student ID to
purchase a ticket for the big game. I think it cost a
dollar. The program was another 50 cents.
dont recall all the circumstances, but a little research
reveals that the visiting team, Penn State, came into the game with a
23-game undefeated streak. The previous January, the Nittany
Lions had completed a perfect 11-0 season with a 15-14
come-from-behind win over Kansas in the Orange Bowl. The
winning points came on a two-point conversion with :15 left in the
game, after Kansas had been penalized on PSUs first two-point attempt.
were led by a veteran coach who was already in his 20th season on the
Penn State sideline.
to the program, When Joe Paterno
took the commencement march at Brown in 1950, he acquired a degree in
English literature. I had planned a career in law or
perhaps politics, explains the Penn State coach. He
decided to give coaching a brief try, just to broaden my
experience before going to law school. Joe never made it
to law school.
was promoted to head coach in 1966, and so far he had recorded 28
Orangemen, on the other hand, werent that good. Pat
Putnam wrote in Sports Illustrated:
spring Syracuse has lost its first eight halfbacks. Two flunked out,
one quit, one transferred and the rest were injured. We're down
to people who are so slow I think they are deformed, observes
Ben Schwartzwalder, making starting tailbacks out of third-string fullbacks.
can always throw the ball. Yeah, counters the
Syracuse coach with that delightful dry humor, we've got a
slick quarterback who spots the open linebacker very well.
sure Ben's humor would be considered so delightful
nowadays. Be that as it may, the bottom line was that we were
predicted to lose.
But it was
our homecoming! The Orange Girl
was one of the finalists for homecoming queen, though someone else
was chosen. And in the first 16 minutes of the game, our
football team scored two touchdowns!
onto that early lead, and we were still ahead 14-0 as the fourth
quarter began. Could Syracuse possibly pull off an upset over
fifth-ranked Penn State? Well, maybe not.
Linebacker Jack Ham recovered a fumble at the Syracuse 32, and the
Lions began to drive.
them on fourth down. But we were called for pass interference,
and on the next play they scored!
a two-point conversion and we stopped them again, but we were flagged
again, this time for defensive holding!
following Monday, Schwartzwalder would complain that the officials
had cost Syracuse the game. And on game day, according to SI:
lucky that somebody doesn't punch you in the nose, said
Syracuse's Don Dorr, the accused, to Field Judge Marlin Brandt, the accuser.
may go down in history, said Paterno happily, as the
coach who got the most second chances on a two-point conversion.
second chance, Penn State converted, and our lead was cut to
14-8. And when we had to punt, they took advantage of another opportunity.
had the ball on our 36. Franco Harris carried on a counter
play, found an opening, and went all the way! Should have
called that play sooner, Paterno joked. The extra point
made the score 15-14 Penn State. And, just like the Orange
Bowl, thats how it ended.
recollection has not been unduly dimmed by the passage of four
decades, Franco broke to the far sideline before cutting back.
From my angle, I thought he might have stepped out of bounds around
the officials and the folks in the pressbox had a far better view,
but by that point our Syracuse student section was inclined to
distrust the zebras.
lost, as predicted. And four days later, the winter snows began.
UPDATE: I've recently run across footage of that game,
including Franco's touchdown. The view from the pressbox
confirms that he definitely didn't step out of bounds, despite what
it might have looked like from my low-level seat across the field.
broke through a big hole at the 32 (below).
headed toward the right hash marks before cutting back to his left
at the 26.
he reached the 17, he was near the left hash marks. When he
reached the 5, he had outrun the last defender.
UPDATE: From other sources, here are two additional
images. In the right background of each is the rear of Steele
Hall (the Esther Baker Steele Hall of Physics, built in 1898).
Oil tycoon John D. Archbold and his concrete stadium, patterned
after Roman amphitheatres and completed in 1908.
Coach Paterno went on to win 380 more games in the next 42
years. Here he is leaving Archbold Stadium with Franco Harris
on October 16, 1971. Sideburns were longer than when I was
there two years earlier.