Reliving Penn-Harvard 1982: Miracle on 33rd Street

We've been saying all week how this weekend's Penn-Harvard match at Franklin Field is the de facto Ivy League title game: Whichever team wins will clinch at least a share of the championship and have a chance to win it outright next week.

Back in 1982, the two teams met at Franklin Field in the same situation with 4-1 records in the league. The Quakers jumped out to a commanding 20-0 lead, but the Crimson stormed back with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull ahead, 21-20.

In the game's final drive, Penn quarterback Gary Vura drove the Red and Blue to the Harvard 21, good enough to set up a 38-yard field goal with three seconds left. Against the win, the kick was no good. But as Crimson players celebrated their supposed victory, a flag was thrown for running into the kicker.

Placekicker Dave Shulman had another chance, and this time he nailed it, handing Penn its first Ivy League championship in 23 years. Highlights of the game can be seen here, with legendary Philadelphia Eagles broadcaster Merrill Reese providing the play-by-play:

9 thoughts on “Reliving Penn-Harvard 1982: Miracle on 33rd Street

  1. For those of us who were at Penn during that time, this win was the sports moment we all remember. Penn had gone 2-29 in the three years prior to that season, and no one gave Penn a chance to compete for the title, despite a terrific group of sophomores on the team. When Vura was knocked out of the game, it looked hopeless, but he came back in and led them down the field for Shulman's heroics. If you watch the video, you'll hear one of the receptions on the final drive was made by the tailback, Steve Flacco (Joe Flacco's dad).

  2. Note: See several more comments about this famous game in the replies to the previous article "3 Up, 3 Down, Harvard version."

  3. @FOJL: As I recall, there were about 40,000 that day. The Penn side was filled on both decks to the mid portion of the stadium. Because of the big crowd, there was also a big on campus controversy not to yell the usual expletive instead of "Giddy up!" in the Penn fight song. This prompted an impassioned personal appeal from Coach Jerry Bernt in the DP to keep it clean. (Everyone heeded his wishes and then applauded themselves.)
    Great game.....

  4. Only FOJL would take an entirely positive post and try to spin it negative.

    In my opinion, today's game is another one that's going to go down in the history. Perhaps not as dramatic as the 1982 Harvard game, but perhaps one of the bigger upsets in recent program history. Two-touchdown underdog never trails!

  5. I have to admit that it was somewhat disheartening to see less than 9,000 spectators at the Penn Harvard game today. At the Yale Bowl today over 21,000 showed up to see the Princeton-Yale game.Now you tell me which game was the more important. Next week over 30,000 will be at the Harvard Stadium to see Harvard play Yale.
    The Penn players deserve better than that, considering the adversities they faced all season. What has happened to Penn Pride? It is embarrassing for our school that such a lack of interest pervades the campus. Disappointment is an understatement.

  6. @Penn Grad - You are absolutely right re attendance. As I missed the game due to prior commitments, the clips on the Penn athletic website showing empty stands were stark. It's a dramatic contrast with the '82 game crowd, and FOJL and others are right to point it out. It's not meant as a disparagement to the team or yesterday's game.

    @Penn FB fans on this post consider the following: Given the next time Franklin Field is likely to be filled would be another Usain Bollt Penn Relays, wouldn't it make sense to move the broadcast booth to the opposite side and have the cameras focused on the Penn side? At least it would show fans were at the game, be more positive for projecting the brand, and the couple of hundred thousand dollars required for doing so would be well spent marketing dollars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>