It was not the crystal blue October sky that made this game so nearly perfect, or the red leaves falling from the maples, or the yellow leaves clinging to the elms. Nor was it the gothic towers rising through the autumn colors beyond the stadium wall.
It was what happened on the field that made this a day for the ages. Both Harvard and Princeton entered the game unbeaten in the Ivy League. But not long after the opening kickoff, evidence mounted that this may not be a contest of equals. Harvard dominated -- on offense, defense and special teams.
Crimson quarterback Colton Chapple, a senior psychology major from the Greater Atlanta Christian School, unharassed by Princeton's line, calmly tossed well-targeted spirals to sure-handed receivers -- especially tight end Kyle Juszczyk, a senior economics major from Cloverleaf High in Medina, Ohio.
By early in the fourth, Chapple had thrown five touchdown passes, including three to Juszczyk. He was on his way to passing for 448 yards, a Harvard single-game record.
Some of the only 10,832 who attended this game did not wait to see if Chapple would throw for a sixth TD. With 13:00 minutes left -- the score 34-10 -- they ambled back toward the maples and elms to resume their suspended tailgate parties.
They made the wrong call.
Princeton's deep man, freshman Anthony Gaffney from the Taft School, returned the kickoff to Harvard's 35. Moments later, quarterback Connor Michelsen -- a sophomore aspiring economics major from Plano High in Texas -- hit freshman back Dre Nelson for a 7-yard touchdown.
Nelson, like Harvard's Chapple, graduated from Greater Atlanta Christian. Like Michelsen, he hopes to study economics.
Michelsen hit receiver Tom Moak for a two-point conversion, bringing the score to 34-18. Moak, a senior history major, graduated from the Westminster School, another Atlanta-area Christian academy.
Harvard, looking to its 16-point lead rather than its unstoppable quarterback, committed a strategic error: It embraced conservatism in one of the few places it may not work -- on the football field. Dre Nelson soon blocked Harvard's punt, and Princeton took over at Harvard's 48. There was 8:38 left to play.