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History learnin', Vol. II

As I said in my first post in this series, 2011 is already getting to be just too depressing.  I had even almost allowed myself to begin to have hope for this season, and then our customary "mast snapping in half" happened almost right on cue.  Rather than continue to ruminate on the possibility of firing our coach and counting the losses this season will bring, however, I'd like to go in the other direction.

Let's delve into the annals of Georgia football history, recalling brighter, fairer days when the Georgia football program was in the ascendancy,



For our next installment, I would like to take us back to the fall of 1904.  The anticipation is rising as the Red and Black prepare to kick off their season by journeying to the neutral site of Macon, Georgia, to take the field against a foe we have never before encountered.  The pre-game hype engine kicks in on the day before the game with the following entry in the Athens Weekly Banner on October 14, 1904.

As usual, my additions and comments are in italics.

---------------------- (Begin Article) ------------------------------------

TO PLAY FLORIDA

--------

The Georgia Eleven Leaves Today for Macon.  The Men Who Will Go.

-------

The University of Georgia football team accompanied by Coach Barnard, and Col E.L. Griggs, leaves this afternoon over the Central of Georgia railway for Macon, where on tomorrow afternoon they meet the University of Florida eleven for their first game.

The last scrimmage was held on Herty field yesterday afternoon and some lively work was done.

The team which will go to Macon this afternoon will average about 165 pounds, having light backs and ends, but heavy from tackles to tackles.  This point in the line will average perhaps 203 pounds.

The following men compose the squad which will be taken to Macon: Ray, Black, Brown, Moore, Arnold, Rossiter, Ritchie, Sullivan, Killorin, captain, Hoke, Woodruff, Cox, Martin, Raoul, Fitzgerald.

---------------------- (End Article) ------------------------------------

 

Then, on the day of the match (October 15, 1904), the Macon News reported the following:

---------------------- (Begin Article) ------------------------------------

FOOT  BALL GAMES TODAY

The following games are scheduled for today:

Georgia vs. University of Florida at Macon
Tech vs. Mooney, at Atlanta
(...)
Vanderbilt vs. University of Mississippi, at Nashville
Auburn vs. Clemson, at Clemson
Alabama vs. Mississippi A. and M., at Tuscaloosa
Harvard vs. West Point, at West Point
etc.

---------------------- (End Article) ------------------------------------

Why is a newspaper's simple reporting of a  scheduled game noteworthy, you might ask?  Well, bear with me for just a little while longer, and I'll get there.

 

The resulting game report, as it appeared in the Macon Telegraph on October 16, 1904, is reproduced below.

---------------------- (Begin Article) ------------------------------------

Georgia Warriors wack away with Florida - Woodruff was Star Performer - Florida was Never in the Game - Score was 52 to 0 - Georgia's line was impregnable - Coaches Satisfied

By irresistible rushes around the ends and by mad dives through the lines of their opponents, the fast Georgia eleven walked away with the Florida University team here yesterday afternoon, defeating the everglade athletes by a score of 52 to 0. From the first to the last minute of play it was plain to the 700 spectators that he (sic) Floridians were completely at the mercy of the Athens team.  Hardly once did the Floridians gain the required distance in three downs. Their only creditable play was that made by the halfback when he received the ball at the kick off and advanced with it about fifty yards, far into Georgia's territory.  Georgia, on the other hand, played great ball from the first to the last. Her first score was made in exactly three minutes and thirty seconds after the ball was put into play.

At no time were the boys from Florida in the game. The Georgia men circled the ends and charged the line at will. Gain after gain was made, first around one end and then the other.  In was in these runs that little quarterback Woodruff of Georgia again distinguished himself as a player.  His long runs and the great ability at dodging demonstrated that without a doubt he is as good a quarter for his inches as to be found in any college team in the country.  He weighs but 120 pounds but makes up for the deficiency in avoirdupois by great quickness. It was Woodruff that made the second touchdown of the game. Receiving Florida's kick-off on his twenty-yard line he managed, by a series of clever dodges to pass every member of the Florida eleven and plant the ball squarely between the goal posts. The field through which this phenomenal run was made was broken and many tacklers were between the runner and the goal line.  Woodruff again distinguished himself by his circling of the Florida ends on the quarterback play.

Florida's trouble was her inability to tackle and rush the ball.  Repeatedly she attempted to batter her way through the stocky Georgia linesman (sic).  Such attempts were either met with losses or no gains.  Hardly a time did the men from the everglades direct a play towards an end.  The stone wall of Georgia held firm and charged low, rarely missing their man or losing an inch.

The tackling of the team was poor.  While a few Georgia runners were brought to the ground in the proper style many were pulled down by tackles about the body instead of the knees.  The men failed to smash interference.  This allowed many of the long runs made fy (sic) the Georgia backs.  Florida, too, was weak at catching punts.

The Game

The teams lined up as follows:

Florida             Positions                  Georgia

Keene ...............centre...................... Ray
Maguire ...........right guard............... Moore
Bratton ..............left guard................ Black
Rowlett .............right tackle............. Ritchie
Cason ..............left tackle................ Arnold
Dorougherty ....right end................. Hoke
Zellus ...............left end................... Sullivan
McDowell .........quarter.................... Woodruff
Bridges ............right half................. Brown
Cason ..............left half.................... Cox
Maguire ..............full......................... Killorin

Umpire: Allen, Referee: George Butler; Head Linesman: Paul Ellison. Time of halves, fifteen minutes.

Florida won the toss and chose to defend the goal line crossing the center field of the park.  Georgia kicked off first.  Sullivan booted the leather far into the air and against a stiff breeze. The ball was caught and advanced about fifteen yards.  Both elevens lined up quickly but the ball was delayed in passing by a misunderstanding between the Florida backs.  It was finally put into play but a fumble was the result, a Florida man following (sic?) upon the leather. Another fumble and it was the third down with six yards to go.  Florida punted and it was Georgia's ball on the 25 yard line of the visitors.  Ten yards were clipped off around left end by Brown.  Captain Killorin was given the ball and smashed through the Florida line for seven more.

It was then Cox's time and he made good in a rush by skirting right end for a touchdown.  Sullivan missed in the try for goal.  Score-Georgia 5, Florida 0.  But three and a half minutes were required to push the ball over the white streak of line marking Florida's goal.

The elevens exchange goals and Florida kicks off.  The ball was sent hurtling and twisting towards Quarterback Woodruff.  He nabs the leather in a good catch and starts behind splendid interference for the Florida goal, almost 100 yards distant.  When he stopped running one more touchdown was added to the credit of Georgia.  Sullivan kicked an easy goal.  Score-Georgia11, Florida 0.

Georgia kicks off.  The ball goes over the goal line and is brought out by Florida to the twenty-five yard line and kicked to Georgia.  Hale catches the leather and makes 15 yards before downed.  Georgi afumbled badly and florida gets the ball.  She kicked at once and again the ball was in possession of Georgia.  Woodruff makes 20 and Cox an equal number for touchdown.  Sullivan kicked goal.  Score-Georgia 17, Florida 0.

From then on the game progressed (and your journalist's pen apparently caused his hand to ache from so many frequent notes about how Florida was being manhandled) and frequent additions to the score were made by the wearers of the red and black.  When the first half closed the score was 22 to nothing in favor of Georgia.

In the second half Georgia added 30 additional points as results of a touchdown apiece by both Woodruff and Cox and three by Killorin.  Sullivan kicked a goal for each touchdown.  During the game Killorin crossed Florida's goal line three times, Cox four times, and Woodruff twice.  Out of nine attempts at goals after the touchdowns Sullivan's toe proved accurate seven times.

---------------------- (End Article) ------------------------------------

 

And that, my friends, is the chronicle of the University of Georgia's first meeting against a team that did not in any way represent the University of Florida. Or, at least, that is what our rivals to the south would have us believe.  As you can clearly see, however, multiple news outlets of the day referred to the team as the "University of Florida." Most importantly,  the postgame report refers to the team both as "Florida" and "Florida University," after which time any confusion over the fact that this was not a "University of Florida" team would have been addressed to the local media in attendance.  This team was known as the University of Florida, purported themselves to represent the University of Florida, and was reported multiple times throughout the year as the University of Florida.

Ladies and gentlemen, this game was the first game between the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.

But, hey, we should expect our "everglade athlete" rivals to attempt to re-write history in their favor.  They've been trying to claim for years that college football in their state didn't really start in earnest until 1990, anyway.

We report, you decide.  And then we all say...

Go Dawgs!

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