Chapter 95

The First Half

The big stadium began to fill, first with those who didn't have a reserved seat, as people holding just general admission tickets hustled in to find the best spots in the wooden end zone bleachers. Many of the fans felt the very best position to watch a game in the stadium, if they couldn't get a seat that was reserved, was to not have a seat at all, but to arrive early and head to the roof over the colonnade and try to get as close to the 50-yard line as possible.

Ticket for standing above the colonnade

Another absolute sell-out

By 2:00, the Harvard players were on the turf, warming up, and Centre's team came trotting out just moments later, led by Captain Roberts, as usual with no helmet, his flaming red hair wrapped with the customary white scarf.

The officials for the game were Ernest C. Quigley, well known in baseball and football circles, as referee, Elmer Oliphant, a former star at West Point, as field judge, W. R. Crowley of Bowdoin as umpire, and from the University of Kentucky, H. G. Tiggert, head linesman.

At 2:05, the Harvard band was heard playing Crimson songs as they marched across the Charles over the Anderson Memorial Bridge. The smartly dressed musicians came into the Stadium through the entrance between the temporary bleachers and the permanent concrete horseshoe, followed by many members of the student body who had marched along behind them.

There was a big cheer when the Harvard band came onto the field and made their way to their seats. Then there was an even larger uproar and looked down and it was Howard and the other members of the Centre "Six," marching down the field, playing as loudly as they could.

Before the 2:30 kickoff, the two captains, Charles Buell and Red Roberts met for the traditional flip of the coin. Red won the toss and chose to receive. Centre entered the contest realizing that it was going to be a battle, but didn't feel that Harvard should be the favorite to win by 2 or 3 touchdowns as the local press was predicting. As they lined up to begin the action, the Colonels felt they could play with the Crimson.

At 2:30, it was time for the last game in the series between Centre and Harvard to begin. Each of the over 50,000 spectators was on their feet as Edwin Gehrke boomed a powerful kick rolling into the end zone for a touchback, and the Gold and White took over on the 20.

Herb Covington picked up a quick 3. Centre planned to stick with the same type of attack during the Ist half that it had in 1921, mainly keeping it on the ground, certainly not giving away the "lock-step."

On 2nd down, Covey called for a cross-buck in which he was to take the center pass and head right before handing off to Terry Snowday who was to sweep around his left end. However, Snowday couldn't get around the Crimson wingman, right end Roscoe Fitts, and had to continue running laterally, trying to get into a position to cut up field.

When Terry tried to shift the ball from his right arm to his left in order to be able to stiff-arm, the ball squirted loose, and in the melee to cover it, the oval was kicked toward the Harvard goal where Fitts smothered it on the Centre 4.

Not a good start, most definitely.

On the 1st offensive play of the afternoon for Harvard, George Owen, the great fullback, drove across for a score, Buell drop-kicked the extra point, and with less that a minute gone, Centre was down, 7-0.

The Colonels regrouped and moved the ball effectively on the next possession, making consistent gains until they had the ball on the Harvard 31. However, the Crimson stiffened and Covey had to take it to the air and was intercepted.

After an exchange of punts which ended up being much in Harvard's favor, the Crimson had 1st and 10 on the Colonels' 40. From this point, Harvard mounted a sustained drive down the field, first Owen, then Gehrke, then Chapin. After 10 consecutive gainers, Gehrke crashed over, Buell was good again, and it was Harvard, 14- 0.

It looked really bad. I heard the writers say things like, "It seems like Harvard's going to totally outclass the Southerners this year," or "Red Roberts looks so slow it seems like he's hardly moving."

I felt terrible for our team. The game was still in the 1st quarter and we were 2 touchdowns behind. But I was the "spotter," and no matter what, I had to keep hollering out names.

Gehrke kicked off again and Covey brought it back to the 20.

Desperate times called for similar measures. Centre had planned not to unveil the "lock-set" until the 2nd half, hoping to spring it as a surprise. But now there was no way to hold anything back, or the score was going to be so lopsided that the game would be long lost.

Centre lined up normally. Then the linemen stood up and marched laterally toward the sideline, each holding the shoulder of the man in front of him, and a writer said, "Looks like Centre's had enough. They're leaving the field!"

At the bottom left of the cartoon, it was claimed that at the onset of their "convict walk," Centre was "going out on strike" 

Centre goes into the "lock-step" with the Harvard players trying to adjust

I knew that we weren't leaving the field. I'd seen that play diagrammed when we were in the Pullman on the way to Boston. Howard Reynolds knew about the formation also, but he didn't let on. He just sat there watching, but blurted out, "Centre's not quitting! Our team won't ever quite. You just wait and see!"

After walking nearly to the sideline, the linemen, followed by the backs, reversed direction and came back toward the other sideline. Harvard's players seemed in a bit of a daze. They somewhat followed the direction of the Colonels but looked terribly disorganized.

Suddenly Hennie Lemon grabbed the ball and shoveled it back to Covey who gained a quick 5 yards but then fumbled after being hit hard by George Owen who outweighed him by over 25 pounds. The ball was kicked in the scramble to fall on it and  bounced all the way back to the 40 where Harvard recovered.  Owen came out to appreciative applause, and his play was over for the day.

On the 1st play after the recovery, Captain Buell fired a pass to Chapin who picked up good downfield blocking and raced across the goal. Buell was good again and it was 21-0 and still in the 1st quarter.

I couldn't believe it. We were down 21-0 in the first quarter. I couldn't remember when we'd ever been behind like that. It looked like we were going to get killed. As a matter of fact, it didn't just look like it, we were getting killed.

Centre had 2 fumbles and an interception in the 1st quarter, and each miscue led to a Harvard score.

Many teams playing away from home in front of greater than 50,000 spectators, and down 21-0, would have folded. Centre didn't fold. Rather, from that moment, the Colonels totally dominated.

Centre huddled before the 2nd quarter began and vowed to fight harder than ever. The Colonels began using the "lock-step" frequently. Every time they executed the new formation, the crowd stood and cheered then on. Using the new scheme, the team started piling up the yardage. The Harvard players tried to follow the Colonels, attempting to line up opposite whichever player they felt was appropriate, but just as they would try to get positioned, a Centre lineman would fire the ball back and a back would shoot around an end, or cut right up the field.

Once, Centre even passed off the formation.

The surprise attack allowed Centre to have a concentrated drive, and Harvard was only able to stop the Colonels when they reached the 6 yard line where the Crimson held. Determined to get on the scoreboard, even though down by 3 touchdowns, Covey kicked a field goal to make it 21-3.

However, mistakes continued to plaque Centre, and Harvard got the field goal back after another interception, and the boot made the margin 24-3 at the end of the half.

It had been a discouraging 30 minutes of play for the Colonels, a mistake filled half in which they had fumbled twice, lost the ball 2 times on interceptions, and each error had resulted in points being scored.

The only true drive by the Crimson was the excellent 10 play movement of the ball which resulted in the 2nd score.

Harvard had made 10 substitutions. Centre had removed Howard Lynch when he twisted his knee and replaced him with Frank Rubarth.

Hope Hudgins had taken a hard hit on the 4th play of  the game. He got up, blood pouring from both nostrils and knew he had broken his nose. Hudgins begged Red not to send him to the sidelines, saying he was ok and wanted to continue.

Hope Hudgins played the whole game, broken nose and all.

You know, because we were fraternity brothers and friends, Hump told me more about what was going on with the team than probably anyone.

Hump told me that at the half, all of the talk was how proud Uncle Charlie was of the team and how they hadn't given up, but had done much better in the 2nd quarter, and all he wanted them to do was go out and play as hard as they could the rest of the game. He said it didn't matter what the score was at the end, he just wanted them to be able to walk off the field knowing that they'd done their very best, to keep trying until the very last play.

He said that they were Centre men, and to remember, as always, that no matter what the score was, Centre played hard, and Centre never quit, but Centre played clean, like the true sportsmen each of them were.