Georgia Tech 222, Cumberland University 0
October 7, 1916
In the spring of 1916 the Cumberland baseball team had humiliated
Georgia Tech's nine by a 22-0 count. Located in Lebanon, Tennessee,
the Cumberland baseball team was comprised of professional players
from nearby Nashville. Georgia Tech's baseball coach, John W. Heisman,
was not at all amused by the result and obliged when the Tech alumni
and students screamed for revenge. Heisman and Georgia Tech guaranteed
the Cumberland Bulldogs $500 (a hefty sum in that day) to come to
Atlanta for a football game in the fall of 1916.
Cumberland left Lebanon with a 16-man squad aboard a Pullman train car
and stopped in Nashville to recruit players from Vanderbilt University
to join them on their trek south to Atlanta. The idea backfired when not
only could the Bulldogs find no takers from Vanderbilt but three of
their own players jumped ship and remained in Nashville. The thirteen
Cumberland footballers continued on into football legend.
During an earlier era of college football Cumberland had fielded some
good football teams. They were never great and reached their peak in the
1903-1905 era. By 1916, however, the school was more know for its law
school than for its gridiron exploits.
During the same period Georgia Tech was becoming a national powerhouse
under legendary coach John W. Heisman, namesake of the Heisman Trophy.
The game, which was scheduled with revenge in mind, was a known mismatch
before it ever began. In fact, Morgan Blake, writing for the Atlanta
Journal, so wrote about the strength of the Cumberland eleven:
"With all due regard to the Tech team, it must be admitted that the
tremendous score was due more to the pitifully weak opposition than to
any unnatural strength on the part of the victors. In fact, 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.'
"The Lebanon boys were absolutely minus any apparent football virtues.
They couldn't run with the ball, they couldn't block and they couldn't
tackle. At spasmodic intervals they were able to down a runner, but they
were decidedly too light and green to be effective at any stage of the
Tech fielded two teams, which played alternating quarters against
Cumberland. Heisman promised a steak dinner to the team that scored the
most points. At halftime, Tech led 126-0; each team had scored 63 points.
"You're doing all right, team," Heisman told his players in a rousing,
halftime pep talk. "We're ahead. But you just can't tell what those
Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be
alert, men! Hit 'em clean, but hit 'em. hard!"
At the game's end, Heisman decided that both Tech teams had earned steak
Everett Strupper scored Tech's first touchdown, one of nine that would
be recorded in the first quarter alone. The All-American Strupper led
Tech with six touchdowns on the day. His first came about a minute into
the contest. Strupper gave up a chance at a seventh score when he came
around the end for about a 20 yard gainer that should have easily
resulted in paydirt.
Strupper instead placed the ball down about a foot short of the goal to
allow teammate "Canty" Alexander to score. Alexander had been trying to
reach the endzone for three years without success. He attempted three
bucks in the Mercer game with the ball on the five-yard line but failed
to score. This time, however, with the ball only a foot from the goal
Alexander bucked it over for paydirt and placed it between the posts.
"It was a big day for Canty", Hal Reynolds of the /Atlanta Constitution/
Cumberland quickly found itself surrendering real estate much faster
than it was gaining it. The Bulldogs began to kick the ball back to the
Jackets after Tech kicked off to them.
Coach Heisman, as the score mounted, agreed to shorten the periods from
15 to 12 1/2 minutes. Georgia Tech had scored 180 points by the end of
the third stanza and had already eclipsed Michigan's record of 153
points scored in a single collegiate football game set four years
earlier. The Yellow Jackets tacked on 42 more points in the final period
and when the madness ended Georgia Tech had amassed 222 points.
In the game, the Jackets hit paydirt on 32 touchdowns and averaged an
amazing 3.8 points per minute of play. They carried the ball for 978
yards, and never threw a pass. Neither team made a first down.
Cumberland because of their ineptness at the game and Tech because they
would score within four downs on every possession.
In addition to the most points scored in a game, Tech set records for
the most yards gained (978), most points kicked after touchdown by one
player (18 by Jim Preas), most points scored in one quarter (63) and
most players scoring), touchdowns (13).
After the game was finished Heisman put his team through a hard
30-minute scrimmage and then admitted that his team had played a "fairly
good game." He rewarded everyone on the team with a steak dinner.
Cumberland collected their $500, saw the sights of Atlanta and went back
to Lebanon, Tennessee as the team who had suffered the worst loss in the
history of college football.
(Photo courtesy of Mrs. Lena Dugat)