August 22, 2007

#9: November 27, 1930 - Utah vs. Utah A.C.

HOW IS IT GREAT? The 1930 season started out on a sour note. Preston Sumerhays, the tailback that was supposed to fill in for the great Earl "Powerhouse" Pomeroy (who graduated after 1929), went down with an injury in the first game against Nevada. So Ike Armstrong had to turn to sophomore Frank Christensen to fill the role.

And fill it he did. Christensen and the rest of Utah's offense were absolutely phenomenal that season -- for the next seven games, the Redskins averaged over 500 yards total offense. Whenever defenses attempted to focus on stopping Christensen, Utah turned to their deep threat, receiver George Watkins, or would run a misdirection to wingback Theron Davis. Still, Christensen managed to run for over 100 yards in each of those seven games.

In one game against Colorado, the "Frontiersmen" (as the Buffaloes were then known) tried the opposite approach: shut down QB Ray Forsberg and the Utah deep threat. In one sense this strategy worked, and Utah was held to only three completions for 40 yards. But in another sense, this strategy was an utter failure, as Christensen was left to run wild, finishing the game with 201 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

In the meantime, a simple glance at the season's scores will show you how strong Utah's defense was that year, led by Marvin Jonas. In the eight games that season, Utah only allowed their opponents 20 points total, and shut them out five times.

Which brings us to this game against the Utah Agricultural College (aka Utah State). This game epitomizes the 1930 season to a T. Even with the Rocky Mountain Conference title already clinched, the Redskins came out in full force and put on a show for the 10,000 fans that braved the cold and fierce wind that day. Utah totally shut down their rivals to the north. It was entirely fitting that Utah complete this amazing feat at home against their rival.

2007 RANKING: #8. This win capped off Utah's second-straight undefeated season, and a winning streak totaling 16 games. Plans were made for Utah to play in a post-season game against St. Mary's (a team known for their exceptional defense), but they didn't materialize. Apparently, Utah even made an open offer to play any team in the nation in a charity game, but no one accepted.

We will never know how good the 1930 Utah team was. Certainly they would have ranked in the Top-20 nationally -- one college football website speculates that they would have been #17. Notice that Utah was one of just three teams with perfect records that year. Notre Dame and Alabama were the other two.

FURTHER READING:
Purcell, Mark. "1930 Utah: How Good Were They?" College Football Historical Society Newsletter May 1993, pg. 16.

Personal Note: I recently had a talk with my Grandma, who informed me that her father (my great-grandfather) was a true Utah Man, through and through. In 1918, he moved his family from Salt Lake to Logan where, according to my Grandma, he was the only Utah fan in town. Each year, Utah and Utah State (then called the Utah Agricultural College) would play each other at the end of November. Whenever the Aggies would win, my great-grandfather would stay indoors and avoid all his friends, expecting them to give him grief about the loss.

But when Utah would win, he would dress up from head to toe in red and walk up and down Main Street in Logan all day, hoping to run into his pro-Aggie friends and neighbors. I like to think that's how he spent the evening of Nov. 27, 1930.

WHAT THE PRESS HAD TO SAY:

UTE GRIDMEN WIN HISTORIC BATTLE, 41-0
----
Second Half Comeback of Aggies Astonishes Crowd
----
Salt Lake Tribune
November 28, 1930

The curtain rang down on the Rocky Mountain conference football season Thursday afternoon when Utah university triumphed over its traditional rival, Utah Aggies, 41 to 0, on a frozen, slippery gridiron in almost frigid temperatures.

Although the outcome of the contest was never in doubt, 8000 persons shivered through the Thanksgiving day classic, marveling at the spirited second half comeback of the light Blue and White eleven from the north. Trampled and crushed under an avalanche of touchdowns in the second period, Coach Dick Romney's men arose fearless in the third period; gamely fought off the Indian reserves -- held the powerful Utes for four downs on the one-foot line and bitterly contested every thrust and pass that Armstrong regulars uncorked in the final quarter. It was a courageous, thrilling last-ditch stand, which added color to the annual classic; gladdened the hearts of Aggie supporters, who feared a much larger score, and won a lion's share of praise for the Logan warriors, who fought gallantly against tremendous odds to the final whistle.

Stubborn Line Surges In to Halt Drives.

Three times a stubborn, fighting Blue line, backed by Co-Captains Dan Gillespie and Clive Remund, surged in and halted the powerful Utah off-tackle drives inside the 15-yard line, a feat that has not been accomplished since early season.

The Armstrong machine opened the game with its usual slashing drives, marched once to the 10-yard line, lost the ball on downs; came back with another drive to the 14-yard line and finally, near the end of the quarter, Frank Christensen plowed over center for a touchdown and Captain Ray Price added the extra point. The chance for a score came after Theron Davis raced to the Aggie 26-yard line on the return of a punt and Captain Price and "Big Chris" had lanced the Blue line in successive thrusts.

Utes Begin Scoring Rampage in Second.

The Utes went on a scoring rampage in the second quarter, and for a spell it appeared as if the score might range in the seventies. "Tiny" Forsberg replaced Tedesco, and on the first play around end, Davis raced behind perfect interference for 25 yards. Forsberg passed to Christensen to bring the ball to the 15-yard line and in two thrusts Christensen again crossed the goal line. True to form, Captain Price booted a placement over for the extra point.

The famous combination, Forsberg to Watkins, brought the third touchdown. The crowd had barely settled down after the second score when Forsberg whipped the oval to "Watty" and the three-time all-conference end raced 25 yards over the goal line. Captain Price again sent the ball spinning between the uprights for the extra point.

Aerial Maneuver Again Leads to Score.

Another aerial maneuver, Forsberg to Watkins, paved the way for the fourth score. After Christensen and Davis had punctured the Aggie forward wall for a first down in their own territory, Forsberg shot the ball to Watkins and the big end was not downed until he reached the Aggie 19-yard line. Completely outguessing the Farmers on the next play, Davis slipped a lateral pass to Forsberg and the little fellow took the ball to the eight-yard line. Captain Price smashed over center for the touchdown and astounded the crowd by again kicking goal.

In the last minute of the second quarter, Davis received Aland Forgeon's punt on the Aggie 36-yard line, swerved to the east side line and dashed over the goal line without being touched. It was the most beautiful run of the day and was only excelled by his own 95-yard run for touchdown against Colorado College. Captain Price had been replaced in the lineup and Forsberg's drop-kick was blocked.

Third Period Turns Into Punting Duel.

The third period developed into a punting duel, with Forsberg keeping the advantage, but it was not until the waning minutes of the quarter that Utah threatened to score. Tedesco slipped off left end and carried the ball to the two-foot line, but try as they could the Utes could not push it over in four downs. Dan Beckstead tried three times to lance the line and on the fourth down Forsberg passed, but Remund knocked the ball down over the goal line.

Coach Armstrong sent his regulars, including Pres Summerhays, into the fray in the final quarter, but even with the added strength the Utes were able to make only one touchdown. Summerhays flipped two perfect passes, one to Watkins and one to Utter, but both were just ticked enough by Aggie defensive backs to deflect them from their course.

The quarter was only five minutes old when "Big Chris" baffled the Aggies by passing to Captain Price, and the Ute leader carried the ball to the 26-yard line. Davis raced around right end to the 13-yard line and the Davis-Forsberg lateral pass combination, with the latter on the receiving end, took the ball to the four-yard line. Christensen added two yards through center and Davis, on a crisscross, scored the touchdown around right end. Captain Price kicked a placement for the extra point, giving him a perfect day for points after touchdowns.

From then until the final whistle, Utah tried valiantly to score by the aerial route, but alert Aggie backs battered down every attempt. Once Remund intercepted the ball and was headed in a clear field for a touchdown, but he was brought down by Davis.

The game was played throughout in Aggie territory, and only twice in the sixty minutes did the eleven from the north cross the fifty-yard mark. Once the Blue and White offensive reached the 48-yard mark and then again in the final minutes rushed to the Utah 43-yard line.

The slippery condition of the field hampered both elevens and cheated Davis out of another 95-yard run for a touchdown. On the opening kickoff, the elusive Ute back caught the ball on his own five-yard line, came out of a huddle on the 30-yard line and was headed for a touchdown in a clear field on the 50-yard mark, when he lost his footing and was caught by an Aggie tackler.

The champions maintained their statistical superiority over their rivals in almost every department of the game. They amassed a total yardage of 472, of which 306 were by rushing, against the Aggies' 114, including 96 from scrimmage. First down honors went to Utah with 20 to the opponents' five, two of which were made by passes and one by a penalty. Utah completed nine passes out of 36 attempts to the Aggies two out of nine. In punting, Forsberg far outclassed Forgeon, averaging 42 yards on his punts to opponent's 33. On returning punts, Utah frequently resorted to a lateral pass and gained 212 yards to the Aggies' 122.

Forwards Demonstrate Their Superiority.

The powerful Utah forwards again demonstrated their superiority over the smaller Blue line. Marvin Jonas slashed from right to left, stopping Aggie thrusts and oftentime went back to cover the flat territory and knock down passes. Jack Johnson, Walling and Ike Howard knifed through repeatedly at tackles and Hap Lybbert wound up his college football career by running beautiful interference. In the Aggie line, Wilkins, I. Smith and Nelson displayed the best brand of ball, Wilkins sticking to his post, despite the battering that he took from his heavier opponents.

In the backfield, "Big Chris," Captain Price and Theron Davis were again the outstanding trio, each playing in such perfect unison that it would be difficult to choose an outstanding man among them. For the Aggies, Co-Captains Dan Gillespie and Clive Remund played bang-up defensive football and Odell Thompson and Del Young starred on the offensive.

Undoubtedly the outstanding feature of the contest was Captain Price's kicking after touchdown. He negotiated five times out of five, which runs his average up to 9 out of 10 in the last two contests.

The contest was hard-fought and bitter, but it was clean throughout, the penalties being evenly distributed.

1 comment:

AncientUte said...

Outstanding work! I loved the personal touches. Thanks again for contributing this awsome countdown.