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Today's Tidbit... 1889 Yale-Princeton @ Berkeley Oval
The Intercollegiate Football Association game on Thanksgiving Day in New York City involved the top two teams from the previous year, which often meant Yale and Princeton since they were the best programs of the time. The 1889 version involved Yale and Princeton, attracting 30,000 fans to Berkeley Oval, which had a muddy playing field and entryways into the grandstand after a wet autumn. They were made worse by Penn and Wesleyan playing a morning game, so the Yale and Princeton players and fans slipped and slid alike that afternoon.
Yale was 16-0 entering the game and would end the season with a 664-31 point differential. Likewise, Princeton was 8-0 with a 484-49 point differential for the year. Yale's squad included legends such as Stagg, Heffelfinger, Gill, and McClung. Princeton countered with Cowan, Ames, and Poe.
Two events involving field goal attempts were of note. One involved Yale missing a field goal when the ball hit an upright and bounced back onto the field. At the time, the ball remained live on missed field goals, so a Princeton player quickly picked it up and punted it back upfield, getting his team out of danger. We don't see the "return kick" in American football anymore, but it remains in the Canadian game, primarily when used to avoid a rouge.
The other event that day saw Princeton miss a field goal attempt with the ball skidding past the goal line. Again, since the ball was live, a Yale player picked it up, planning to run or kick it, but the ball slipped out of his hands and into the grandstand. Under another rule of the time, balls fumbled out of bounds remained live, allowing a Princeton player to pounce into the stands, retrieve the ball, and claim a touchdown.
Princeton scored a second time after a Yale fumble deep in their territory, finishing the day with a 10-0 win. The undefeated Tigers were later named the national champion for the year.