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Today's Tidbit... When It Rains, It Punts, 65 Times
Football fans who enjoy oddball stories from the game's history are familiar with the 1939 Texas Tech-Centenary game played in Shreveport, Louisiana. Played in a torrential downpour, the rain-soaked field made it difficult to run or pass, so the teams repeatedly punted the ball to one another until they did so 77 times, setting a still-standing record for combined punts in a game. Game records were set for most punts by a player, most punting yards by a player, most punt returns by a player, and most punt return yards by a player, as were eight other records. Today, the game holds the NCAA record for most records set in one game.
Another game played the same afternoon, two hours north by the interstate in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, is less well-known or largely unknown. Ouachita Baptist hosted Arkansas State Teachers, now known as Central Arkansas, and faced similar weather and field conditions. The teams struggled to move the ball, so they punted too, just not as much as the guys in Shreveport, whose game ended in a 0-0 tie, meaning they played the game for nothing.
Like Texas Tech-Centenary, the Ouachita Baptist-Arkansas Teachers' score was 0-0 at the half, but the rain-soaked fans enjoyed a treat in the second half. Six minutes into the third quarter, the Teachers punted. The game's 46th punt went out of bounds at the Ouachita Baptist 6-yard line. Determined to punt his team out of danger, Frank Reed, a Ouachita halfback and punter, positioned himself in his end zone and took the long snap, stepping forward to boot the ball for a 47th combined time.
Unfortunately for Frank Reed and Ouachita Baptist, Leon Russell and George "Bull" Milton broke through the Baptist line to jointly block the punt. Reed, the punter, recovered the ball in the end zone for a safety, putting Arkansas Teachers ahead 2-0.
Things continued along the same path, and by the game's end, the teams had combined for 65 punts, not counting the one on the free kick after the safety. With the kickoffs to start either half, a foot met a ball 68 times that afternoon.
By a stroke of bad weather and luck, a game that might have been the puntingest in college football history ended up taking a back seat to another game with 11 or 12 more punts. However, this game ended with a winner, and perhaps this article will increase awareness of the near-great events that occurred that rainy day in Arkadelphia.
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