Chapter 101

November 11, 1922   Centre-Washington and Lee

One of the main things I remember about the Washington and Lee game was the decorations all over the downtown in Louisville. Howard and I went over on the train and were picked up again by Uncle Theodore Wintersmith and Aunt Mary's chauffeur, and he drove us through the downtown, and just like in the previous years, the areas around the Seelbach and all along Fourth Street and Walnut Street were just covered in gold and white. Of course, we'd played in Louisville the previous three years, and the alumni association seemed like they tried to outdo themselves each time to get our colors hanging from anything they could reach, or wrapped around every pole or column in the area.

The Generals were 4-1-1 on the season.

               W&L  85         Emory and Henry  0
               W&L  14         North Carolina State  6
               W&L  13         Carson-Newman  0
               W&L  12         West Virginia  12                                                                                                                                                                                        W&L  53         Lynchburg   0                                                                                                                                                                                            W&L    6         Virginia    22

The tie with West Virginia proved what had been known for some time in football circles. W&L, like Centre, could more than hold its own with the large, state schools. The game against the Mountaineers, played in Charleston, W. Va., proved to be the only blemish in an otherwise 10-0-1 season for West Virginia.

( Interestingly, the boys from West Virginia capped their season by traveling to San Diego and playing in the same Christmas Bowl as Centre had the year before. The game was actually played on Christmas Day, and West Virginia beat Gonzaga, 21-13.)

The tie in Charleston, and the later loss in Charlottesville to Virginia, proved to be costly for the Generals. By the time the team was ready to travel to Louisville, Captain Mattox, the quarterback, the backup quarterback named Frew, and 4 other regulars were out with injuries.

Coach Jimmie DeHart was interviewed and quoted in the "Messenger" as saying, "I dislike offering excuses, but in all frankness, I must say my team is in poor shape."

Unlike W&L, Centre came out of the Kentucky contest in good shape. The team only had one player with an injury, and it didn't occur on the gridiron, but in combat on an even more dangerous battlefield, the Young Hall chemistry lab.

Young Science Hall

Chemistry lab in Young 

Case Thompson was questionable for the game due to an unfortunate event.

Robert L. "Case" Thomasson

We were in the lab, and of course, most of us didn't have any idea what we were doing. Anyway, my station was right across the table from Case, and he was reading from the manual we had and trying to follow the instructions. He poured some liquids out of different containers into this beaker and smoke came rushing out which I suppose he thought was ok, so then he put the thing over the flame of our Bunsen burner and there was this big explosion, and to tell you the truth, it nearly scared me to death. It sounded like some bomb had gone off, and I hit the floor, and when I got up, Case was white as a sheet and there was blood dripping from his hand.

Luckily, he didn't get cut anywhere but his hand, but there were some pretty significant lacerations. We got them wrapped up in a towel and Dr. Coolidge came running in and he called off the lab and rushed Case to the hospital.

Dr. Walter Coolidge, who had received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Johns Hopkins 

The papers reported that Case had been injured so badly that he'd have to miss the W&L game. They underestimated Uncle Charlie who was skilled in developing protective gear for his players, even if the "snorkel" for Bo's nose injury had been less than a great success.

At the W&L game, Case's hand looked something like an Egyptian mummy, but Uncle Charlie had wrapped it so he could use his fingers just enough to be able to hold the ball. Case made the trip, and he and Hump shared time in the backfield.

Speaking of Hump, I've said before that Hump was the class wit. He always had something to say. He was a good speaker, and he was also funny. Anyway, after the explosion in the chemistry lab, Hump would shout, "Case Alert!" whenever Case got ready to do anything with chemicals, and when Case was finished, Hump would holler, "It's safe now. Case closed!"

Hump Tanner

Centre beat W&L decisively, but the outmanned Generals made it a fight, and earned the appreciation of the overflow crowd which jammed Eclipse Field.

I still have my program from the game, and I kept score by penciling in the points in each quarter.

Here's what I wrote.

Red Robertson's penciled-in scorecard

Centre scored quickly, with Red leading Covey on a 45 yard dash which a reporter described as "a twisting, stiff-arming, ducking, dodging and side-stepping dash down the field for a score."

Red Roberts had lost his silk scarf 

W&L made its only concerted drive after receiving the kickoff and scored. There was nothing fancy, just good hard-nosed football. Bruce Dudley was in the press box for the Louisville "Herald."

The shock of the touchdown shook the Colonels quite a bit, and from then on the Generals, despite the courage of their efforts, did not seriously menace the Centre goal.

Quick slants by Covey and Hudgins, a Covey to Lemon 23 yard pass, and 3 straight line thrusts by Hump made it 13-6 at the half.

Covington ( 2 ), far left,  firing a pass

Hennie Lemon missed his first extra point after being good on 16 straight. Centre dominated the 2nd quarter, picking up 11 first downs to one for W&L.

Hope Hudgins carrying the ball 

Bruce Dudley recounted the play after the half.

On the third play after the start of the third period, Hope Hudgins intercepted a pass from Hamilton and as coolly as Eliza picked her way across the ice, he picked his way through the field of Generals for 50 yards, and reposed the ball back of the goal posts. When halfway to the touchdown, Hudgins discovered three Generals waiting for him.

Calmly, he reversed his field, then retraced his steps and stoically continued without further heckling. Lemon booted the ball squarely between the posts.

( For those readers who aren't totally familiar with "Eliza," she was a character played by Mary Pickford in D.W. Griffith's 1920 production of "Way Down East.")

Covington scored the last touchdown in the 4th quarter on a 30 yard run, Lemon kicked, and the game ended, 27-6.

Action in the line with Frank Rubarth far left and Red Roberts without helmet. 

Red Roberts ( 34 ) heading to plug the hole in the line with Terry Snowday ( 12 ) center of photo. Rubarth ( 9 ) far left.

Uncle Charlie always tried to get any hometown boys in the game if possible. Jimmie Green, who had played at Louisville's Male High, was given a standing ovation when he replaced Hope Hudgins.

During the game, the crowd kept shouting, "lock-step!" Centre ran one play from the formation, picking up 5 yards.

Centre gained 393 yards on the ground and completed 4 of 9 passes for 76 yards, resulting in a lopsided margin over W&L of 469 yards to 137.

In first downs, it was 21-9.

Red Roberts played his usual great game and the couple of times that Centre had to punt, Red sent out towering kicks which brought gasps from the crown.

Red Roberts

After the game, the Centre alumni held a dinner and dance for both teams at the Seelbach. The players "acted like brothers, not competitors," according to the wife of one of the sponsors.

Of course, that was the norm. Centre played hard. Centre played to win. But Centre's players handled themselves in a manner which assured that they left the field having won the admiration and friendship of whomever they met along the way.

After all- "We are Centre!"