November 30, 1922 The Season Ends Centre-South Carolina
Centre was 7-2. South Carolina was coming to Danville on Thanksgiving, November 30, to close out the season. The traditional turkey day opponent, Georgetown, was still unwilling to place its neck on the chopping block, quite wisely.
It was important for Centre to beat South Carolina. An 8-2 team which lost two tough games on the road, against Harvard and Auburn, would be an attractive opponent in 1923. It would have a much easier time firming up a game with a big-time college in the East, than a 7-3 squad which closed with a loss to a just average South Carolina.
Centre planned to beat the Gamecocks, but the college and Danville also wanted to "roll out the red carpet" for the visitors. Everyone reflected on how wonderfully the Colonels and their followers had been treated on their travels over the last several years.
Indianapolis had pulled out all the stops when Centre played DePauw there.
Charlottesville had been gracious hosts. The courtesies shown in Fort Worth at the "Classic," and everywhere the team visited on the long Western journey- St. Louis, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, most certainly San Diego, El Paso, and Dallas- at all of the destinations, everybody had been so- nice. That's the only way that Centre's administration, coaching staff and team could describe it.
Everybody had been so- nice!
How about the torch light welcome in Tucson?
“For they are jolly good fellows….”
Birmingham, Clemson, Bloomington, Chattanooga, Richmond, Charleston in West Virginia, the people in Louisville and Lexington- everyone had knocked themselves out to make the team feel welcome. Even in Atlanta, where the team was disappointed with the Georgia Tech play, the fans had packed the stadium, and for the most part, treated the Colonels wonderfully.
Cincinnati and New Orleans? Great experiences.
Maryville in Tennessee, and certainly Winchester, Kentucky, and old rivals Georgetown and Transylvania- all had provided pleasant memories.
Boston and Harvard?
As Uncle Charlie often said, "Salt of the earth. They are peaches, absolute peaches. Salt of the earth."
Centre and Danville hadn't been provided many opportunities to go all out for visitors. There was the matter of accommodations. The two hotels on Main Street, the Gilcher and Henson, filled quickly when there were events in the city. And the several "rooming houses" were usually occupied by "regulars" who were in town for business.
The Danville Chamber of Commerce contacted a representative of the Southern Railroad office in Columbia, South Carolina, and asked to be supplied with the names of "250 of the leading citizens of the state." On the list that came back were prominent residents including the governor and other state politicians, mayors of several of the larger cities, the president of the university, and major figures in business and the professions.
Each received an invitation to "spend the weekend in Danville as our guests," and the response was heartening. W.A. Coleman, the mayor of Columbia, accepted, as did a state senator, Thomas Pearce, who had made a fortune in the wholesale food business. Judge J. Needles and his wife wired that they were coming, and the acceptances kept rolling in until over 100 had signed on to "spend the weekend in Danville."
What about that nickname? Danvillians discovered that the "Gamecocks" had been so named after a 1902 story had reported that the football team, "fought like gamecocks."
South Carolina came to Danville with a 5-3 record, the losses by a total of 7 points.
South Carolina 13 Erskine 0
South Carolina 7 Presbyterian 0
South Carolina 7 North Carolina 10
South Carolina 20 Wofford 0
South Carolina 0 Clemson 3
South Carolina 6 Sewanee 7
South Carolina 27 Furman 7
South Carolina 13 Citadel 0
1922 South Carolina "Gamecocks" at Davis Field in Columbia
Clemson was a common opponent of Centre and Carolina, with the Colonels winning 21-0, and the Gamecocks being blanked, 3-0. While Centre was certainly favored, South Carolina had played a very tough North Carolina squad to a virtual standstill in a game played at Chapel Hill, losing only 10-7. The Tar Heels finished at 9-1, their only loss to Yale in New Haven.
While South Carolina's offense had sputtered, their defense had allowed only 27 points thus far in the season. The school's program had been resurrected by Sol Metzger who took over in 1920 after a dismal 1919 campaign in which the Gamecocks were 1-7-1, scoring only 25 points all season. At the time, attendance was so poor that the football team was a drain on the school's finances. Metzger had turned the situation around after a loyal group of supporters went to the administration and board of the school and promoted him as just what the college needed to become competitive.
Metzger was a known winner, having coached at Baylor, Pennsylvania, Oregon State, West Virginia, and Washington and Jefferson, plus he wrote a nationally syndicated "Gridiron Questions and Answers" column.
The Danville Chamber and Centre lined up a "fleet of cars" to ferry the visiting South Carolinians around town and out to some of the nicer farms when they arrived. There was a dinner for both teams Friday night at K.C.W., and a big reception at the Centre library in honor of the Carolina fans prior to the game. The merchants had paid for sashes and badges for the men, and corsages for the ladies, all composed of the Gamecock's red and black colors.
Jop wrote that while everyone in Danville welcomed the guests, it was hoped that they'd only need the black part of their identifying colors after the game.
The contest was to be the last for 4 very important members of the Centre College football program. Red Roberts, Ben Cregor, Terry Snowday and Hump Tanner were going to be representing the Gold and White against South Carolina, and then their careers would be over. Red and Ben had been stalwarts since 1918, having stayed the extra year due to not having 1918 counted against their eligibility. Terry Snowday, after leaving the University of Kentucky, had been a fixture since the undefeated season of 1919, and Hump since 1920. ( Hump was technically only a junior, at least academically. However, he had used up his eligibility since he played at Colorado in 1919.)
It was appropriate that the last game for the 4 seniors was going to be played in perfect weather, before a crowd which filled every seat at Cheek Field. The spectators were warmed up by the Centre "Six" which had been set up along the 50 yard line. Centre showed wonderful Southern hospitality by first acknowledging the 5 South Carolina seniors who were also playing their last game.
"Captain Waite, left tackle"
"McMillan, left guard"
"Lindsey, right guard"
"Coker, left end"
Each of the Gamecocks was given a big cheer by the appreciative crowd as they ran out onto the field, waving.
Then it was bedlam. Two seniors who had always been there, who hadn't been of the superstar caliber, but were valuable members of the team, were introduced first.
"Dewey Kimbel from Louisville, Kentucky!"
"Charles Cecil from Danville, Kentucky!"
"Ben Cregor, Springfield, Kentucky. All-Kentucky, All-Southern, right tackle!"
"John Porter 'Hump' Tanner, Owensboro, Kentucky. All-Kentucky, All-Southern, fullback!"
"Terry Snowday, Owensboro, Kentucky. All-Kentucky, All-Southern, honorable mention, All-American!"
"Captain James "Red" Roberts, Somerset, Kentucky. All-Kentucky, All-Southern, All-American!"
I thought the game would never get started. People stood and cheered so long that I was afraid it would be dark before the kick-off. The seniors walked around the circumference of the field, and Red, Ben, Hump and Terry circled a second time, waving, and while there were smiles on their faces, there were tears coming down their cheeks, and there was hardly a dry eye in the stands. Even the South Carolina fans were standing and cheering, and the South Carolina team seemed just as pleased as everybody, and finally, they all ran out onto the field and lined up and each of them shook hands with our seniors.
I know that Bo was loved, and so were Red Weaver and Army- as were all of those who had graduated before. But I believe these were the best loved of all. They had played so well, and they had always conducted themselves so perfectly. It was hard to let them go, and I think that everyone felt that the longer they cheered, the longer they'd have Red, Ben, Hump and Terry to remember.
I caught Red's eye as I was whistling. I could always whistle really loudly by putting my index and little fingers in my mouth. I know that I could see Red form the words, "My son," as he waved to me.
I just know that's what he said.
Centre never played a more perfect game than it did that Thanksgiving afternoon against a decent South Carolina team.
Centre racked up 25 first downs to 4 for the Gamecocks.
In the whole 60 minutes of play, South Carolina only ran 24 plays, and those 24 efforts resulted in but 79 yards.
The Colonels hit on 18 of 27 passes for 271 yards. They picked up another 514 yards on the ground in 73 rushes. Of those ground gainers, Covey picked up 385 yards in 40 carries, over 9½ yards per effort.
Overall, Centre gained 785 yards on an even 100 plays, an average of 7.85 yards every time a member of the Gold and White touched the ball! And this was against a team that all season had surrendered only 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals, a team which took great pride in its defensive strength.
Red Roberts, Terry Snowday, Herb Covington, Hope Hudgins, Hump Tanner, and senior Charles Cecil, all scored. Hennie Lemon kicked 4 extra points and Red got 2.
The Colonels tried to let Ben Cregor score, this time for real. Covey lined him up near the goal and handed off the ball. Old "Baldy" crashed into the line and was stopped short.
It was about the only failure in the 42-0 victory over the Gamecocks.
Coach Metzger came into the Colonels' dressing room after the game and asked everyone to let him say a few words.
He congratulated Ben, Terry, Hump and Red on their sterling careers, and he congratulated the Colonels on their wonderful display of football.
Then the veteran coach turned to Uncle Charlie.
"Charlie, I played on some wonderful teams, and played against some great squads while I was enrolled at Pennsylvania in the early 1900's. I've coached some very talented teams and we played against major colleges all over the country. But Charlie, I want you to know that today I saw the greatest exhibition of football that I've ever seen, or feel I'll ever see in the future. I congratulate you for what you have done here in Danville. My boys were privileged to have been on the same field as yours."
The "Garnet and Black," the South Carolina yearbook, later noted the Gamecocks' season ending game against "Center."
A "sad tale" for a less than successful end to 1922 for South Carolina
Before the team left the dressing room, there was a short meeting in which Ed Kubale was elected team captain for 1923. The big center, probably the one new-comer who could have come in and replaced an All-American, Red Weaver, was a typical Centre man who led by example both on and off the field.
There was a big dance to be held in the Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium the night after the game, but first all of the visitors and both teams traveled by automobile out to a pig roast hosted by the Blue Goose Club at the Cliff Dwellers' Club House on the Dix River. Governor Morrow and his wife were in attendance.
Jop reported that Uncle Charlie presided at the party, "as the chief carver, and wielded a wicked knife."