As if losing 44-9 to the University of Pennsylvania before a national television audience was not demoralizing enough, the Harvard Crimson has experienced another sudden setback in its efforts to salvage a once-promising season.

Star quarterback Neil Rose and All-Ivy wide receiver Carl Morris will not take the field Saturday when Yale and Harvard clash for the 119th time in the history of the rivalry. Team doctors cited a severe case of elephantiasis in Rose’s throwing arm that began after he visited the Central African Republic for special back treatment, while Morris chose to boycott the game against the wishes of his teammates and his coaches.

“Listen, I don’t know what the administration is trying to pull, but if my friends can’t consume beer from a keg before they watch me play, then I don’t want to play,” said Morris, referring to Harvard administrators’ decision to ban kegs from tailgates and weekend parties during the weekend of The Game. “I mean I remember The Game last year at Yale. Now those people know how to party. If you think alcohol is not a part of football, then you’re crazy.”

While Morris said his decision was a response to the Harvard administrators’ draconian drinking policies, those in the know said he decided not to take the field for another reason.

“I think he’s just plain scared of Barton,” said Cantab linebacker Dante Balestracci of defensive back Barton Simmons ’04. “Why do you think I’m still a linebacker? I don’t want to face Barton over the middle. I don’t think anybody does.”

Head coach Tim Murphy said his team has no chance without Rose or Morris.

“We might as well just give up now,” Murphy said. “All my plays focus on Morris. How else could we possibly ensure that one of our players would be up for All-American honors if we didn’t pad his stats?”

Rose was unavailable for comment. According to team doctors, he had left for the islands of Micronesia to receive acupuncture treatment for his arm.

–Pat Summermadden