Today's Tidbit... Cornell Dances in the Streets
Princeton had a pretty good ball club in 1899, despite not having a coach. The team went 12-1 and was later credited with a national championship by some services, as captain "Big Bill" Edwards ran the show.
It looked like a well-run operation on November 1, 1899, when the 7-0 and unscored-upon Tigers stepped onto Cornell's Percy Field to face the 6-1 Cornell Big Red, who had shut out six opponents and suffered a lone loss at Chicago. Tiger fans in Philadelphia who could not trek to Ithaca hung around outside the Philadelphia Inquirer's office to monitor the mini-gridiron simulating the game as reports came in.
Cornell had never beaten Princeton, and Cornell was led by first-year head coach, Percy Haughton, last year's Harvard captain, so the Redmen fans realistically thought Princeton would get the best of the Ithacans.
The game did not turn out that way. Both teams struggled to move the ball against the quality defenses, but Cornell had the field position advantage from beginning to end. The end came with about five minutes left in the scoreless game when Cornell's quarterback, George Young, dropped back from Princeton's twenty into kicking position. He received the snap and dropkicked it through the uprights to give Cornell a 5-0 lead.
The Tigers were not optimistic about scoring since they had failed to move the ball all day, and football did not yet allow the quick-striking forward pass. As the Philadelphia Inquirer described the situation:
There was but three or four minutes left to play, and it was evident that Princeton would be unable to score within the short time.
Nowadays, we consider three to four minutes to be plenty of time for most offenses to take the ball the length of the field, but that was not the case that day, or at least not for Princeton. As the game ended:
The grandstands and bleachers were emptied in an instant and Percy Field was swarmed with half-crazed students. These quickly formed into file and marched with uncovered heads and coats turned inside out back to Ithaca.
Fans don't create serpentines on the field after games anymore. They also don't take off their hats, turn their coats inside out, and snake dance through the streets back to campus, but wouldn't it be fun if they did?
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