Chapter 38

October 15, 1921 Centre-St. Xavier / Harvard-Georgia

On the Monday after the VPI, the Chief received a telegram from Howard Reynolds, the sporting editor of the Boston "Post" who had been so influential in getting Centre on Harvard's schedule in 1920 after he and Eddie Mahan had visited Danville in 1919.

Reynolds was coming down the week before the Harvard game to take some photographs, interview the coaches and players, and to make certain that his readers knew everything that he could report about Centre's preparations for the October 29 contest.

Centre now had two relatively easy games coming up prior to going back to the East. It may have been a bit of a gamble to play Clemson and VPI before the Harvard game, but Uncle Charlie wanted his team to have sufficient competition so that the Colonels would be battle-tested. It had worked out as planned-two victories, then games with two less skilled foes, and then on to Harvard.

Harvard had a harder row to hoe, with a good Georgia team coming to Cambridge the weekend that Centre journeyed up to Cincinnati.

Georgia had an excellent season the previous year, 1920, going 8-0-1.

Georgia    40      The Citadel         0
Georgia    37      South Carolina   0
Georgia    7        Furman                0
Georgia    27      Oglethorpe          3
Georgia    7        Auburn                 0
Georgia    0        Virginia               0
Georgia    56      Florida                 0
Georgia    21      Alabama             14
Georgia    55      Clemson               0 

The tie with Virginia was a road game in Charlottesville.

During 1921, the Bulldogs were 2-0 with wins over Mercer, 28-0, and Furman, 27-7.

Certainly, Harvard was bringing some decent programs into the Stadium, and Georgia was one of the better ones.

Centre's game the weekend of the Harvard-Georgia contest was with St. Xavier of Cincinnati, Ohio, later called Xavier of Ohio. The two schools had played only once before when the Colonels pasted the Saints 57-0 in 1919 on Cheek Field. The match-up was ideal for Uncle Charlie's purposes. The game wouldn't tax his team too greatly, and the travel was very manageable-just a little over 100 miles up the Southern tracks through Lexington and into Cincinnati.

Centre had one worry going into the St. Xavier game. Bo hadn't fully recovered from the hard hit that he took in the first half against VPI. In retrospect, it was probable that he had suffered a broken nose. He was having trouble breathing, and on Sunday and Monday after the game with the Hokies, he spent the night in the local hospital where he received a sedative to help him sleep.

Uncle Charlie decided that he had to provide his quarterback some facial protection. He called a friend in Lexington and had him procure an actual World War I gas mask from an Army surplus store in Lexington and send it down on the train.

Bo tried out the apparatus during practice on Tuesday. It worked well for him, but not for his teammates.

"Unc, it sounds like he's in a cave somewhere. We can't hear him call the signals."

Moran cut a hole in the front of the mask, and Bo used it the rest of the week. The Centre staff was so concerned about Bo that they sent him to Cincinnati on Friday before the game and had him check into a hotel so that he didn't have to get up early Saturday morning to travel to Cincinnati with the team.

Tickets to the Harvard game arrived in Danville during the week. The Shop-Perfect was going to handle the sales, and once again, Harvard had sent some of the best seats in the big horseshoe, a block directly on the 50-yard line.

The Danville "Advocate" announced plans for travel to Cincinnati for the St. Xavier game. The team, including coaches and manager Johnny McGee, would occupy a private day coach for the trip. There would be 41 going. The team's car, along with several additional ones for fans, would be brought down from Lexington the night before and left on a siding so that they could be occupied Saturday morning and connected to the regularly scheduled "Carolina Special" which came through heading north each morning at 7:25 A.M.

The train would arrive in Cincinnati in the late morning and allow plenty of time for the travelers to grab a quick lunch and head to Redland Field for the 2:00 game. The round trip would be $7.13, game tickets were $1.25 for the grandstand and $2.00 for a box, so that even if one were to spend $1.50 each for lunch and dinner, the whole day wouldn't cost more than $11.00-$12.00, assuring that many of the students could afford to make the trip.

The "New Orleans Limited" pulled out of Cincinnati each evening and the Danville cars would be hooked onto it for the 8:00 P.Mdeparture, arriving back home at 11:20.

( The reason that a little detail is being given about the trip to Cincinnati is to show how passenger train service so totally dominated travel in the United States during this era. If you wanted to go someplace, even such a relatively short distance as from Danville to Cincinnati, you hopped on a train. Trains went literally everywhere. They came through frequently. They were reliable, and they ran on an abundant and seemingly inexhaustible fuel supply. )

St. Xavier had won its last nine games during which it gave up only 14 points. The 1921 game was memorable because of the fact that the Saints scored, which was a major disappointment to the Colonels. The players had really felt they could go through the season without giving up a point.

There were over 8,000 fans in attendance. The Saints' score came early in the game, and it wasn't really due to a defensive breakdown. There was a Colonels' fumble deep in their own territory. In their eagerness to keep St. Xavier out of the end zone, Centre jumped offsides twice, moving the ball closer to a score. Then, a hard hit caused a Saints' runner to cough up the ball and it went up in the air, took a big bounce forward, and rolled over the goal line where it was recovered by an alert St. Xavier player, Herb Davis, for a touchdown.

Herb Davis, St. Xavier, who covered a fumble in the end zone for the only TD given up by Centre during the regular season in 1921.

Centre played conservatively all afternoon, aware that there were scouts in the stands. Hump scored in the first quarter after the fluke touchdown by St. Xavier and then kicked the extra point, the Colonels 104th straight.

The second quarter was scoreless, and the first half ended, Centre 7-6.

Freshman Robert "Case" Thomasson was relieving either Terry Snowday or Army during the game. "Case" scored the only TD in the third quarter, Hump kicked number 105, and it was 14-7 at the end of the period.

Tom Bartlett scored on a 25-yard run early in the fourth quarter, stiff-arming several defenders along the way. Bo kicked the 106th.

Bo closed out the scoring near the end of the game on a 6-yard run, kicked for the 107th straight, and the final margin was 28-6.

The game wasn't really as close as the score. The Colonels ran at will, picking up 24 first downs while giving up only 6.

Note was made that Saint Xavier managed to score, even though it was because of a recovery in the end zone

It wasn't an overly spectacular display, but served its purpose. Uncle Charlie and Tiny Thornhill got 25 men into the game, and Tiny sent 9 subs into the line at various times. It was depth that Centre was seeking, and the game in Cincinnati provided playing time for many men who may be needed two weeks later.

Action at Redland Stadium against St. Xavier. Uncle Charlie substituted freely which is why Ray Class ( 20 ) was in the game. 

The Cincinnati "Times-Star" made special mention of Red Roberts' play.

Although McMillin featured in carrying the ball, the shining light of the whole game, and the man most effective on the defensive, was Roberts, third team All-American in 1919, who is playing tackle for Centre. Time after time he broke up the Saints' plays, and on one occasion, he lifted up a Saint bodily and set him back. Coach Moran seems to have made a clever move when he shifted Roberts and his 225 pounds of beef, backed by plenty of football sense, from the backfield to the line. It was almost impossible for the Saints to make anything through the line with Roberts on the job.

After the game, the team attended a dinner given by the Cincinnati alumni club, hustled to the station and was on the train for the 8:00 departure.

On the way back, Herb Covington introduced a new version of an old song which everyone thought appropriate and joined along in singing.

It was good for Uncle Charlie,
It was good for Uncle Charlie,
It was good for Uncle Charlie,
And it's good enough for me. 

The Chorus

'Tis the old-timey football,
'Tis the old-timey football,
'Tis the old-timey football,
And it's good enough for me. 


Good enough for Captain Armstrong ....

And then-For the whole darned crew.

Team supporter Roscoe made the trip and then entertained by playing music on a bottle as the train pulled into the Danville station late in the evening.

It had been a successful day, but there was some disappointment about having given up a score.

Bo and Army spoke on the platform to several students who were there when they disembarked.

"Yes, we won. We're always glad to win. We sure wish they hadn't scored. But you know, we'll just work that much harder to keep anybody else from scoring again."

Meanwhile in Cambridge, Harvard had the same goal going into the Georgia game. The Crimson knew they had to play tough defense since their attack had been so impotent.

Once again, Harvard's offense performed poorly and without precision, losing the ball 5 times due to fumbles. Georgia scored the first points of the season against the Crimson. It took a 28-yard field goal by K.S. Pfaffman for Harvard to eke out a 10-7 victory.

Harvard's K.S. Pfaffman, who kicked the winning field goal against Georgia

Again, the Crimson struggled offensively

Perhaps it is being a little tough on the Crimson to downplay their win over Georgia. After all, as pointed out, Georgia was 8-0-1 in 1920, and in 1921, ended up 7-2-1. Besides the loss to Harvard, the Bulldogs dropped a 7-0 decision to a strong Dartmouth team     ( 6-2-1 ), and played an excellent Vanderbilt team ( 8-0-1 ) to a 7-7 tie. 

After the game with St. Xavier, Centre was 3-0. Harvard was 5-0 after squeezing by the Bulldogs. Things were looking good for both the Colonels and Crimson to be undefeated when they ran out onto Harvard Stadium's turf on October 29.