rent like champion

March 30, 2010

Stopping the Streak

Pictured is Sewanee's McGee Field, where Georgia halted a seemingly unstoppable unbeaten streak in 1914.  

I was recently checking out ghostoferkeussell's YouTube page of old UGA football video clips and found the celebrated tie at Auburn in 1994

Although our team acts like we won the SEC title following the 23-23 draw, the result was undoubtedly a moral victory for the Bulldogs.  Entering the game, Georgia had lost as many as it had won dating back to the start of the previous season and was a 12.5-point underdog that night on the Plains. 

The Tigers were undefeated and ranked third nationally in the AP Poll. (Not sure what poll narrator Chuck Dowdle was looking at, stating Auburn was "number five."  The Tigers weren't ranked in the Coaches poll at the time since they were on probation.)    

Furthermore, Auburn had won 20 games in a row before the Dawgs ended its long-standing streak.  Currently, the Tigers' 20-game winning streak is tied for the fifth longest in SEC history.

In regard to winning/unbeaten streaks, breaking Auburn's in '94 is likely the second-most impressive in UGA football history.  Georgia's most monumental is one  you've likely never read or even heard about, especially since it took place nearly 100 years ago.

As I recently posted, the Sewanee Purple Tigers were recognized as one of the best programs in college football a century ago.

From 1898-1910, Sewanee compiled a remarkable 85-15-7 overall record (.827), including a 6-0 mark against Georgia, and captured three S.I.A.A. championships.  The undefeated championship squad of 1899 was recently recognized as the greatest southern college football team of all time in Tony Barnhart's book, Southern Fried Football.  

Five years prior in 1894, the Tigers began a streak of 55 games where they were not defeated on their home field, winning 51 games and tying four.

Hardee Field (renamed McGee Field in 1977) - the oldest football field in the South and fourth-oldest in the country -  was home of the Purple Tigers.  There the 55-game unbeaten streak began with a 30-4 win over Nashville in 1894 and would not end until 20 years later with a 7-6 setback to Georgia.

On October 10, 1914, it rained all morning at Sewanee and by game time, Hardee Field was a sea of mud.  The sluggish tract would benefit the Red and Black the entire contest, slowing down the quicker Purple Tigers.

As usual, it was speculated Sewanee would dominate its visiting foe.  Three Purple Tigers would earn All-American recognition that season while the Red and Black's lone All-American in 1914 - quarterback Dave Paddock - would not play that year until the following week against North Carolina.  The diminutive Ed Dorsey, described as "108 pounds of pepper and nerve," was serving as Paddock's replacement.

On Georgia's second possession of the game, Tom Thrash scored on a short run.  John Henderson's PAT gave the Red and Black an early 7-0 lead.

The game was described as "uninteresting," for the most part.  Each team attempted several forward passes - considered "trick plays" - but none were completed.

The Purple Tigers finally ignited some excitement when All-American "Robert" Lee Tolley rushed for a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.  However, the same Sewanee star missed the all-important extra point, which would eventually cost his team the game and its unbeaten streak.

Sewanee's streak "on the Mountain" is especially noteworthy considering the team had 13 different head coaches during the 20 seasons and suffered 33 losses at away and neutral sites during the unbeaten stint.

A 32-game home winning streak (1901-1911) by Sewanee during its unbeaten streak would be the 17th longest in college football history if it was recognized by the NCAA.  The 55-game home unbeaten streak would likely rank in the top five of all time.

After the 7-6 upset at Sewanee, Georgia, for whatever reason, was not quite the same team, losing five games in a row before tying Auburn in the season finale to finish with a 3-5-1 record.  In his eight seasons as the Red and Black's head coach, it was the only losing year endured by Alex Cunningham.

Sewanee, on the other hand, basically picked up where it left off, recording a 29-4-3 mark at home over the next 12 years.  In fact, the Tigers made such an impact on the gridiron, they were eventually asked to be one of the Southeastern Conference's original 13 members in 1933.

It's then Sewanee began another extraordinary streak of losing every one of its conference games as a member of the SEC - 37 in a row over eight seasons.  Following the 1940 campaign, the school dropped out of the conference.  Today, the Tigers compete at the Division III level.   

No comments: