October 7, 1916: Cumberland meets Georgia Tech on the football field. The Georgia Tech Engineers (today the Yellow Jackets) met the Cumberland College Bulldogs on Grant Field, now part of Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Bulldogs travelled from Lebanon, Tennessee. They had discontinued their football program the year before but were not permitted to cancel the game with Georgia without a penalty. Earlier in the year, the Cumberland baseball team had crushed the Georgia Tech team with a score of 22-0. John Heisman was the coach for the football team. He was also the coach for the baseball team. That may account for the score on this day.
According to the scheduling agreement, if the Tennessee team neglected to play, they would have to pay Georgia Tech $3,000 ($65,000 in today’s dollars). In order to not give up the cash, George Allen (student manager of Cumberland’s football team after first being student manager of their baseball team) put together a team of 14 men and they travelled to Atlanta to play some ball. It should also be noted that sport writers of the era ranked college teams by how many points they scored. It was simple math and did not take into account how strong or weak the opposing team was. So, that could be another reason why today’s game was the most lopsided game in college football history.
Cumberland received the opening kick and failed to make their first down. The Engineers scored on their first play. Cumberland got the ball back and immediately fumbled. A Tech member picked up the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown. The Tennessee team took the kick and then fumbled on their first play. Tech was getting tired and it took two plays before they scored again. Cumberland managed to keep control of the ball but over the next series of plays, they were sitting at a loss of nine yards. After the Engineers received the ball, it once again took two plays before they scored. At the end of the first quarter, it was Georgia Tech 63-0. At the half, it was 126-0. After the half, they slowed down and only scored 54 points in the third quarter and ended with just 42 points in the final quarter for a score of 222-0.
There are several myths about this game. One is that Cumberland did not have a single play that gained yards. They were actually able to make a gain of 10 yards on a pass, unfortunately they needed 22 yards to get a first down. There is also a myth that Georgia scored on each play, but in reality they scored on each possession. Georgia made no attempts to pass the ball. They ran the ball for 1,620 yards completing 32 touchdowns. Cumberland fumbled nine times and were able to complete two of their 18 attempts at a passing game. There has only been one other game with a score over 200 points when King College, also in Tennessee, beat Lenoir of North Carolina, with a score of 208-0 in 1922.
As a general rule, the only thing necessary for a touchdown was to give a Tech back the ball and holler, ‘Here he comes’ and ‘There he goes.’ – from The Atlanta Journal
Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football. – John Heisman
When in doubt, punt! – John Heisman
When you find your opponent’s weak spot, hammer it. – John Heisman
Also on this day: You Can Say That Again – In 1806, carbon paper was first patented.
Cornell University – In 1868, Cornell held opening day ceremonies.
Achille Lauro – In 1985, the ship was hijacked.
Beginning – In 3761 BC, the Jewish calendar started.