Saturday, Howard, and Yale meet at the iconic Yale Bowl for an almost unprecedented matchup in the schools’ first meeting ever in a game coined the “NAACP Harmony Classic” This will be only the third game between an Ivy League school and an HBCU. One of the other two games was recent and fairly well-known as Harvard hosted Howard in 2019 and beat the Bison 62-17. However, not many people know about the very first matchup between an HBCU and an Ivy League school.
In 1984, Carm Cozza’s Yale Bulldogs hosted Morgan State, a Division II school at the time. Both schools were in dark eras of their proud football histories with Morgan State going 2-8 the previous year under James Phillips and Yale going a stunning 1-9 the year before under legendary Coach Cozza. The low light of the season was a loss to Columbia, which would be the Lions’ last win before they lost 44 straight games.
Interestingly, Yale’s reputation was not enough to earn favor with some of the media as the Baltimore Sun predicted a 21-17 Morgan State victory. Unfortunately for the Bears, they could not be more wrong.
Here is what America was like on October 6, 1984:
- Price of Gas: $1.13
- Top Grossing Movie: Teachers
- Reigning NFL MVP: Joe Theismann
- Billboard #1 Song: Let’s Go Crazy by Prince and the Revolution
On October 6th, 14,420 fans flocked to the Yale Bowl to see the Bulldogs defeat the Bears 41-0. The Bulldogs jumped to a 27-0 halftime lead and did not look back. The Yale defense dominated, holding Morgan State to 204 yards of offense and forcing two turnovers. A strong rushing attack anchored Yale as they ran for 257 yards and five touchdowns. Alphonso Harris was Morgan State’s lone bright spot as he crossed the century mark running the ball with 100 yards on 22 carries.
Yale ended up drastically improving from their nightmare 1983 campaign going 6-3, capping the season with a thrilling 30-27 win over Harvard. On the other hand, Morgan State would not be so lucky, ending the season winless and going 18 more years without a winning season.
HBCUs are 0-3 against the Ivy League. The odds are against Howard, but a win over Yale would be monumental for Black College Football and a feat almost 40 years in the making.
Throughout the research of this piece, Morgan State football’s History & Records Book supplemented my newspaper research.