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Today's Tidbit... Joe Kershella, The Point-A-Minute Man
The NFL record for the most points scored in a game by one player is 36, and the NCAA's major college record is 48. Both records are shared by three players, but neither record has anything on Joe Kershella of West Liberty Teacher's College (now West Liberty U.), who notched 71 points in a game against Cedarville in 1932.
West Liberty played some fine football back then, while Cedarville did not. The West Liberty Hilltoppers were in their seventh and last season under Harry Sweeney, winning multiple West Virginia Conference championships. They habitually walloped lesser foes, including 71-0, 78-0, 98-0, and 77-0 wins. The 1931 team had Bob Caniglio, who led the nation in scoring and scored 67 points in one game before moving on to the NFL, where he placed third in the league in rushing in 1932 with the Staten Island Stapletons.
Despite Caniglio's heroics, the last game of West Liberty’s 1932 season stands out among high-scoring contests when Ohio's Cedarville College, who lost to New River College 81-0 earlier in the year, crossed the river to visit the Hilltoppers. Cedarville was winless and not known for their defense, but West Liberty, at 6 and 3, had not put up crazy points in 1932, so no one expected anything usual to happen. But it did.
Cedarville started the game by kicking off to West Liberty, who returned it to the 30-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, they gave it to running back Joe Kershella, who had tallied only one touchdown to that point in the season, but Kershella raced around the end and took it seventy yards for a touchdown. The run proved to be the first of his eleven touchdown runs that day, the shortest of which was twenty-three yards, so he likely should have lettered in cross country and football that day. Kershella also kicked five extra points, accounting for 71 of the Hilltoppers' 137 points, while Cedarville went scoreless.
By totaling 71 and 137 points in a game, Kershella vaulted into first place among individual scoring leaders in the East, while the team jumped into the scoring lead ahead of Colgate with 262 points versus the Red Raiders' 243. Alas, the undefeated and unscored-upon Colgate team had one game remaining, facing a similarly undefeated Brown on Thanksgiving Day. Colgate, which had Rose Bowl hopes, beat Brown 21-0 to finish the season undefeated, unscored upon, and uninvited. But, hey, with 264 points, they beat out West Liberty for the Eastern scoring title.
Joe Kershella, who had not starred until the Cedarville game, was named to the West Virginia Conference honorable mention team, nothing more. Best as I can tell, however, he holds the all-time record for the most points scored in a college game by one player.
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