Chapter 56

Homecoming, November 5, 1921    Centre-Kentucky

Centre and Kentucky were true rivals, but the feeling of respect that each had for the other was certainly boosted by the way that the Wildcats and citizens of Lexington had gotten behind the Colonels and been so supportive regarding the Harvard game in 1920, and the one just finished.

The Kentucky contest was going to be the last one played in Danville during the season, and this fact made it all the more imperative for the supporters of the Gold and White to be in attendance. Not only did fans want to see the team that had just defeated Harvard, but it was to be the last home appearance of three of the stars who had contributed so much to the team's success over the last 5 years.

The young ladies from KCW had specially designated tickets

Bo, Army and Bill James would be playing their last game on Cheek Field. They had put on the Centre uniform 36 times through the Harvard game and had been major parts of 33 wins against 3 losses, for a winning percentage of 91.6.

Bo McMillin

Army Armstrong

Bill James

Also, during that period, the three had helped to totally turn the tables on Kentucky. They were 3-0, and Centre had outscored the Wildcats, 108-0.

       1917       Centre   3       Kentucky 0
       1918       No game
       1919       Centre 56       Kentucky 0
       1920      Centre 49       Kentucky 0 

Coach William Juneau, the Kentucky mentor, felt that his team had a reasonable chance against the Colonels. They were 3-2 at the time, with the following results:

      Kentucky 68      Kentucky Wesleyan 0
      Kentucky 28      Marshall 0
      Kentucky 14       Vanderbilt 21
      Kentucky 33      Georgetown ( Ky.) 0
      Kentucky   0      Sewanee 6

( Vanderbilt was playing excellent football during the early 20's. The Commodores won their last 2 in 1920, were 7-0-1 in 1921, the tie being with Georgia. In 1922, their record was 8-0-1. The tie was with Michigan.)

Kentucky had lost its last game to Sewanee, 6-0, in a game played at Louisville's Eclipse Field while Centre was playing Harvard. It was the game where fans in Louisville were constantly cheering at seemingly inappropriate times as the results of the Centre-Harvard game were being sent to the game after being wired from Boston and bicycled to the fans at the Kentucky game.

Danville was still decorated in gold and white, but now even more so than on the Monday that the team returned from Boston. C-6 H-O adorned even more windows and storefronts. If a site was available for the team colors and pennants to be displayed, someone would quickly get to work and wrap or hang or do whatever was necessary to get it decorated.

Tickets sold out quickly, and it was obvious that people were going to be turned away.

Uncle Charlie used this fact to begin discussions again regarding getting a new stadium for Centre. He pointed out that anytime a team was so popular that fans couldn't be accommodated, it was time to take action. He had a sympathetic audience wherever and whenever he brought up the subject, and his efforts in 1921 would pay off starting with the 1923 season.

As Centre was preparing for Kentucky, the attention was still on the prior week's game with Harvard. In class after the game, the Centre chemistry professor, Dr. W.H. Coolidge, said he had discovered a new formula, one which would kill the fondest hopes  of anything crimson in color. It was C-6 H-O.

On November 4, an ad appeared in the "Messenger," with the headline:


Napoleon met his Waterloo; Centre met Harvard; Piggly Wiggly met the high prices of foodstuff. Centre's "Wonder Team" has dragged Harvard's pride down into the dust; so in like manner, Piggly Wiggly has brought the high cost of living down, down to the lowest possible margin. Like Centre, Piggly Wiggly has won fame "all-over the world" by making prices, not meeting them.

During the week, Bo was talking to a group of admirers on the street when a young boy raced up to him and grabbed his hand.

"Bo," he cried excitedly, "I had a little brother come to my house today, and we've named him Bo after you."

According to a reporter, Bo was as excited over the announcement as he was from scoring against Harvard, and said he was going over the next day to visit his "offspring."

Shortly afterward, the "Messenger" announced: Mr. and Mrs. Clel Upton of Shelbyville, formerly of Danville, have named a fine, 10 pound boy, Norris McMillin, in honor of Centre's team captain, Norris "Army" Armstrong, and Bo. It is hoped by all that he will live up to his name.

Another poem, this one appearing in the "Advocate."

There was a young man from Fort Worth

In whose mouth was a spoon at his birth.

He touched up old Harvard for a touchdown.

He has shown all there is of fame and renown,

­And Danville will give him the earth!

A telegram was received from William Weatherford, a native Kentuckian, who was a cotton broker in Houston.

Am proud of Centre, like every other Kentuckian. Arrange banquet for team. Spare no expense. Send me the bill.

Telegrams continued to pour in. L.W. Roberts, athletic director at Georgia Tech, and the mayor of Indianapolis, Charles W. Jewett, both sent messages to Bo.

Roberts: The Georgia Tech team congratulates you and your team on its wonderful victory over Harvard on Saturday.

Jewett: Congratulations. Certainly your great desire expressed to me last year has been accomplished. Your victory ranks second to none on the gridiron.

It would have been quite natural to have a letdown against Kentucky after the Harvard game, despite the fact that the Wildcats were the Colonels' main rival. Certainly, Kentucky was fired up. The Lexington "Herald" set the tone in the week leading up to the game by pointing out that UK "may surprise the touchdown craving of Centre eleven Saturday,"

The Wildcats are not underestimating the strength of the Centre eleven; they know that the Danville team is the best in the South if not the country this season and that the Colonels are capable of even better ball than they played against Harvard. The facts are not worrying the Wildcats much, however, for they know that despite the reputation of the Centre collegians, only an every-minute fight can stem off defeat by an overwhelming score.

Arrangements are underway for taking the largest crowd of rooters that ever went from Lexington to witness the game at Danville. A special Southern Railroad train will be run, leaving Lexington at 12:30 in the afternoon and returning after the contest is finished. An automobile special, similar to that which took the Kentucky boys for the Sewanee game last week, will be run by local people. Those who go in the automobile caravan will be able to stay for the dance which will be given in honor of the Kentucky-Centre classic. In additions, hundreds of former Centre and University of Kentucky students from throughout the state will make the trip by either train or automobile.

The annual Kentucky classic is attracting more attention than ever before, and the largest crowd that ever witnessed a football game in this state is assured.

The Danville "Advocate" ran a summary of the series since its inception in 1893. Of the 25 games, the Colonels had won 15, lost 8, and there had been 2 ties. Overall, Centre had outscored Kentucky, 399-307.

Just before the Kentucky game, there was a report in the "Messenger," under the heading, OFF TO THE COAST, that it seemed like a certainty that the Colonels would be heading to the West during the post-season.

Whether they will play in the big Tournament of Roses, or the stellar East verses West contest at San Diego has not been decided. R.C. Barlow, manager of the Tournament of Roses, wired Chief Myers that the committee was giving Centre serious consideration.

W.L. Aimes, Chairman of the East verses West game, also wired the Chief that the committee was interested in Centre playing in their game.

Had it been just over 2 1/2 years that the Centre athletic department was having trouble lining up games with the more notable teams? It seemed continually amazing to all involved that Centre College of Kentucky was being sought out by schools and committees, and that now it was a matter of picking and choosing rather than hoping to attract notice and being squeezed into some slot on a preferred team's schedule.

November 5, 1921

The Saturday of the Kentucky game was a perfect, cloudless afternoon with a bit of a chill in the air-ideal football weather. The attendance was estimated at over 9,000, the largest crowd yet to assemble for an athletic event in Kentucky. There weren't close to 9,000 seats, but fans were congregated literally everywhere near the field. They were hanging from trees and phone poles, standing on roofs of cars, peering out of the windows of Young Hall and Old Main. There were people under the stands who were trying to watch between the legs of those who were in the bleachers. In addition, the field was lined with hundreds of "standing room only" enthusiasts who were several rows deep wherever there was space available.

The capacity crown watching Centre come onto the field. Notice the prominent shadows which were a factor in the placement of the new stadium being built in 1923 having a north-south configuration rather than having players staring into the western sun when playing on the original field. 

The highlight of the afternoon was the cheer and recognition for Captain Army, Bo and Bill James. The Colonels ran out to the 50- yard line and waved to the standing crowd which was trying to smile, wave, whistle and clap all at once. Even every wearer of Kentucky's Blue and White was on their feet, adding their appreciative recognition to what the trio had not only accomplished for Centre, but also for the entire state, over the past 5 seasons.

There was no doubt which was the superior team as pointed out by Bruce Dudley of the Louisville "Herald."

The question of victory by Kentucky never came into the fray. This was taken for granted by everyone except the Centre players who rushed into the battle with only one object and that was to win. But the crowd of over 9,000, with 7,500 wearing gold and white and 1,500 equally enthusiastic Wildcat fans decked out in the school colors of blue and white, were interested in the margin of victory.

The hope of the Kentucky portion of the crowd was to have their team score at least once, and to keep from losing by as many as 50 points.

Such had the tide turned.

The "dope" on the game was that Centre would win by at least the 50 points that Dudley had mentioned, and backers of the Gold and White had to give that many points in order to get any Wildcat fans to take them up on a bet.

The game started slowly, and after 7 minutes, there was no score. Wildcat fans began to have a glimmer of hope.

Finally, Centre began a drive at midfield. A 20-yard Bo to Snowday pass took it to the 30. Snowday then ripped off 15, and Tom Bartlett and Red alternated runs until the redhead bulled over for the last yard. Bo kicked the extra point, and it was 7-0 as the 1st quarter ended.

Kentucky's fans were feeling pretty good about their bets.

In the 2nd quarter, Bo scored on a 49 yard dash, Herb Covington streaked for a 38 yard T.D., one extra point was converted, and the half ended, 20-0.

Wildcat bettors were still feeling fairly confidant. Centre was substituting freely, and it seemed like the 50 point margin was pretty secure.

Bo threw 3 touchdown passes in the 3rd quarter, one each to Snowday, Red Roberts and Clifton "Hennie" Lemon from Mayfield. All 3 extra point conversions were good and the whistle blew with the Colonels holding a commanding 41-0 lead.

Uncle Charlie continued to run men in and out, seeming determined to get all of his squad into the game.

Even though their team was far behind, Kentucky's partisans felt somewhat optimistic going into the final 15 minutes of play. Centre would need to score and kick both an extra point and a field goal to reach the margin needed to cover the spread.

Early in the final period, Bo tossed a 25 yarder to Red who was standing unguarded in the end zone. The kick was good, and it was 48-0.

It was getting dark. The Kentucky fans were cheering for their team continuously, not for victory-the game was long lost- but for solvency. Centre was having trouble getting its offense going during the period due to the frequent substitutions, and had several penalties and fumbles.

With less than 2 minutes to play, Kentucky's Fuller punted to Covington who returned it to midfield. It was difficult to distinguish the players due to the darkness. Centre had time for one more attempt to score.

Bo ran for 19 to take it to the Wildcats' 31. On 1st and 10, he circled around in his backfield for what seemed forever, his front wall providing him all of the time that he needed. Bo was standing on the 40 when he fired a long, perfect spiral to Hennie Lemon who was literally loitering around in the end zone. The big-handed Lemon pulled in the pass and with the completion, Kentucky fans began to reach into their pockets to pay off their bets.

Clifton "Hennie" Lemon

The extra point made it 55-0 as the game ended.

The headlines told the story about a slaughter, Martyrs, Lions and a "Hospital List"

The list of Centre substitutes was as extensive as the scoring

Uncle Charlie played 28 men and made 28 substitutions during the game which revealed how totally dominating the Colonels had become. No matter who he sent in the game, the scoring just continued without interruption with 1 TD in the first quarter, 2 in the second, 3 in the third and another 2 in the final 15 minutes. 

Centre's win ran its record to 6-0. Since the loss to Georgia Tech, the Colonels had won 11 straight, outscoring their opponents, 492-13, an average win of 45-2.

During the last 3 games against the Wildcats, Centre had put 160 points on the board to exactly 0 by Kentucky.

                    1919     Centre  56      Kentucky  0
                    1920    Centre  49      Kentucky  0
                    1921     Centre  55      Kentucky  0

Centre never punted, not even once. The ineffective offense of the Wildcats ( or overwhelming defense of the Colonels ) resulted in 10 punts by the boys from Lexington.

Centre racked up 38 first downs while Kentucky had but 7, and the majority of those were against Centre's subs.

But the most amazing statistic was that Centre picked up 204 yards in the air on 12 out of 16 passes, and 804 yard on the ground in 96 carries. Overall, the Colonels gained 1008 yards on 112 plays, averaging exactly 9 yards every time they called a play.

Teams just don't gain over 1000 yards!

Teams just don't average 9 yards every time they call a signal!

But as unbelievable as it may seem, that's just what Centre College did on that afternoon of the first Saturday in November, 1921.

How far the Colonels had come since that 68-0 drubbing in 1916. Now it wasn't even close.