Chapter 97

Summary of the 3rd Harvard Game

There were a lot of comments in the press box like, "I've never seen any team like these boys from Kentucky. Don't they know when they are beaten?" People were saying that it was a shame that Centre had to lose, because except for the first quarter, we had definitely seemed like the better team.

Of course, I was heartbroken, but I was so proud. I'd heard from Howard about how the year before, the fans had gone out onto the field after we'd won. Now there was what must have seemed like a similar scene. There weren't that many Kentuckians who were at the game, but the entire playing field was covered with fans who had come rushing out of the stands to get to the players and congratulate them about how great they had played.

Harvard made a total of 21 substitutions during the game, playing a total of 28 men.


               POSITION          STARTER       SUBSTITUTES
               Right End              Fitts                    Crosby
               Right Tackle          Eastman            Tower, Robson
               Right Guard           Grew                  Miller
               Center                     Clark                  Kernan, Bradford, Clark
               Left Guard             Hubbard            Kunhardt, Hubbard
               Left Tackle             Brocker              Greenough
               Left End                 Hartley               Mcgillin, Holder
               Quarterback          Buell                   Lee, Pfaffman, Akers, Buell
               Right Half              Gehrke               Hammond
               Left Half                 Chapin               Churchill, Chapin
               Fullback                 Owen                  Coburn, Rouillard

Only 14 men saw action for the Colonels. Frank Rubarth replaced Howard Lynch in the 1st quarter after Lynch's knee injury. In the 3rd quarter, Case Thomasson subbed for Terry Snowday in the backfield after he was shaken up, and then Hump came in for Thomasson.

Of the other backfield starters, Hope Hudgins, Herb Covington and Red, who also occasionally swapped positions in the line for a play, went the entire 60 minutes.

Ed Kubale, Ben Cregor, Bill Shadoan, Buck Jones, Minos Gordy and Hennie Lemon played the whole game in the line.

The game stats were very revealing.

Harvard had total first downs, 4 in the 1st half, and 1 in the 2nd

5 total!

Centre racked up over 3 times Harvard's, picking up 6 in the 1st half and 11 in the 2nd, for a total of 17.

Centre literally controlled the clock, running the ball 53 times and passing 10, and therefore had 63 offensive plays.

Harvard only ran 28 plays! The Crimson rushed 26 times and passed twice. That statistic is worthy of being repeated.

Centre ran 63 plays, Harvard but 28.

The Colonels picked up 228 yards rushing for an average of 4.3 yards per attempt, and when adding the 48 yards gained passing, the afternoon's yardage was 276.

Harvard picked up 134 yards rushing, completed 1 pass for 40 yards, and had a total yardage of 174.

How does a team run over twice the plays, gain over 100 yards more, and lose 24-10?

It's not hard when you have 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions, all of which result in scores.

The "12 minutes each" regarding the time for each quarter was a typo. The quarters were the customary 15 minutes each.

Having said all of that, however, Harvard had to be given credit. A good team takes advantage of the breaks. A good team takes advantage of its opponent's mistakes. Certainly there is no doubt that Harvard was an excellent team, and certainly Harvard did what good teams should do. Harvard capitalized.

The matter of substitutions has to be considered. After the Crimson jumped out to the 21-0 lead, George Owen, their stellar fullback, was taken out and didn't appear again. It was a wise decision by Coach Fisher.

Did Fisher's running subs in and out all afternoon mean that he was saving some of his starters for future contests? Did it mean that he was determined to wear Centre down with his superior bench? Or, did it reflect on how hard the hitting was by both the Crimson and Colonels?

The answer is probably "yes" for all three possibilities.

The Crimson mentor was determined not to drop two straight to Centre. He started his strongest eleven, and even when he subbed, he often sent his starters back in after giving them a rest. But he had Dartmouth, Florida, Princeton, Brown and Yale to face, and having that part of his schedule still ahead had to have some influence on his decisions.

However, an article in the Boston "Globe" on October 23, the Monday after the game, had a headline across the full width of the sports section:


                                                              SEVERAL REGULARS GIVEN HARD BUMPS

For a day or two, the Crimson's workouts will be light, as the team took quite a hammering in the engagement with Centre College, several of the regulars getting their fullest share of the bumps.

George Owen, after his wonderful breaking in the opening period, was withdrawn and did not return. He will therefore be in shape for the Dartmouth game, in which he is likely to be a very necessary asset.

Three of the first string men and two valuable substitutes were severely shaken up in the Centre game. All but one should be in trim again before Saturday. Phil Coburn, hurt again after being out of play the previous two weeks, injured his leg and is likely to be out until the Princeton game on November 11.

Joe Hartley, right end, Esky Clark, center and Erwin Gehrke, halfback, will have to rest most of the week. Kernan, the substitute center, who suffered a bump on the head, will probably be able to scrimmage this week.

The Syracuse "Herald" sent sportswriter David Walsh to cover the game. His summary epitomized not only how those covering the game felt, but also the sentiments of much of the crowd.

The varsity "H" was forced to stand for both Harvard and Horseshoes in an overflowing Stadium yesterday afternoon. Any defeat is heartbreaking to the loser, but the one suffered by Centre College yesterday afternoon was nothing short of tragic.

The Colonels from far-off Kentucky outplayed Harvard, outsmarted her, outrushed her, and did everything but defeat her. Centre literally fumbled the victory into Harvard's lap, but be it said for the Crimson, she was the great opportunist.

Speaking about the performance of Herb Covington, Walsh wrote:

Covington seemed to run the ball on almost every play, and he ran it so well that the gridiron looked like a battlefield strewn with fallen Harvard defenders who had tried to stop the agile young Southerner and failed.

The Harvard games of 1920, '21 and '22, had been the most important events ever for Centre College. They had brought a vast amount of attention to the little school as only encounters with such a great institution as Harvard could.

In the contests, Centre had proven its worth.

The first game was a standstill during the initial half, with Centre battling back from a 7-0 deficit to actually lead after scoring 2 touchdowns including the electrifying Bo long toss to Lefty Whitnell.  The half ended, 14-14.

Harvard's overwhelming depth and superiority in the line turned the tide for the Crimson in the 2nd half, and resulted in a 31-14 win for the boys from Cambridge.

The second Centre-Harvard pairing lacked the fireworks of the 1920 game, with the Colonels intent on sticking to a conservative attack, confident that the team's improved line play could hold the score down so that 1 or 2 touchdowns would suffice.

Army and Bo were absolutely correct in advocating that strategy.

Army had said, "Hold them scoreless in the first quarter and we will win."

He was totally on spot. Centre's defense held, Bo scored early in the 3rd quarter, and the Colonels emerged victorious, 6-0.

While most called the 1921 win an upset, Centre's players didn't feel that way. The Colonels felt they had the manpower and skills, plus the great Centre spirit that characterized the team every time it took the field, so that the better team won.

The third game once again proved that the Colonels could play with any team in the country. They lost, but they competed at a winning level, and they walked off the field at Harvard Stadium with the esteem of the record crowd, the hundreds of thousands who followed the broadcast of  the game over station WGI, and the millions who read about the October 21 contest all over the country the next morning in their Sunday newspapers.

Never in the history of college football has a series, the Centre-Harvard games of 1920-22, so captivated the attention of sports fans everywhere, and none has since.

All of us talked about the games the rest of our lives. They were defining moments for each of us, players and students alike.

We loved our team, but you know, we ended up loving Harvard and its traditions and sportsmanship nearly equally.

Those were wonderful days, days that sadly will never be repeated. I know I was made a better person by having lived through and experiencing those times, and I'm certain that everyone associated with Centre felt the same way.

Also, I have to say, I feel that Centre touched Harvard, as well as the people of Boston and the East Coast.

Uncle Charlie had told "Bowman" in "First Down, Kentucky" that the Eastern schools didn't really know about anything west of the New Jersey state line.

Now, their horizons had been expanded due to the football games between Centre and Harvard in the early 1920's.

It was no longer, Danville, Kentucky, "wherever that is."

It was Danville, Kentucky, "home of Centre College."