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September 10, 2009

A Look Back: South Carolina


I detail the 1900 Georgia-South Carolina game in my book The 50 Greatest Plays in Georgia Bulldogs Football History (the part on Marvin Dickinson below is directly from the book) and one play, or more like a moment, in particular. For it was an impulsive reaction by South Carolina's captain that literally took points off the scoreboard and likely changed the game's end result.

THE RULES: To give you an idea how college football has changed in more than 100 years, here are some of the rules that were in place for the sport in 1900:
  • The ball was a "prolate speheroid" without specific measurements.
  • The field was 110 yards long.
  • Touchdowns were worth five points.
  • Five yards were needed to gain a first down.
  • No forward passing was permitted.
  • On a kickoff following a team scoring, it was the team who scored receiving the kickoff not the team scored upon.

THE SEASON: In only in its ninth season of playing football guided by already its seventh head coach, E. E. Jones, the 1900 Georgia squad (photo from Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries) opened the season with an "easy" 12-0 victory over Georgia Tech. Georgia halfback and team captain Frank McCutcheon scored both Red and Black touchdowns on rushes.

South Carolina entered the game at Georgia's Herty Field with just a 6-15 all-time record in the school's seven-season football history. However, Coach I.O. Hunt's squad was thought to be much improved in 1900 and entered its season opener led by halfback and captain Ted Bell.

THE LINEUP (Georgia):

LE: Frank Ridley

LT: Marion Monk

LG: Harold Hirsch

C: Richard Terry

RG: I.M. Putnam

RT: Hugh Gordon

RE: Julian Baxter

QB: Cam Dorsey

LHB: Marvin Dickinson

RHB: Frank McCutcheon

FB: Samuel Hewlette

MARVIN DICKINSON: After transferring from Mercer, Marvin Dickinson made an immediate impact at halfback for Georgia. In 1900, he starred in the Red and Black’s 5-0 win over South Carolina and a season later scored Georgia’s only points in a 16-6 loss to Davidson with a touchdown (worth five points) and a successful point after. His rushing was the highlight in an upset, scoreless tie against Auburn.
In 1902, Dickinson’s plunge accounted for the only points in a 5-0 victory over Alabama. He also scored a touchdown and converted two extra points in Georgia’s 27-0 victory over Davidson.
Dickinson was expected to play again in 1903 but was instead appointed Georgia’s new head coach. Billy Reynolds, the Red and Black’s previous coach, had suddenly resigned. Only one veteran returned from the ’02 squad and Georgia struggled to a 3-4 record. After playing professional baseball in 1904, Dickinson returned to UGA in 1905. Again, the Red and Black returned only one veteran from the previous season and Georgia won only one of six games that year. Following a 29-0 loss to Auburn, Dickinson told a reporter he was tired of football and never coached again.
THE GAME: In the first half, following a fumble recovered by Georgia's Richard Terry, the Red and Black drove 48 yards on 11 rushes and a 10-yard offsides penalty committed by the visitor. The final play of the drive was a Samuel Hewlette scoring run halfway through the half; however, Hugh Gordon missed the PAT and Georgia led 5-0.
Late in the period, South Carolina was awarded the ball on Georgia's 15-yard line. Carolina's Fred Ruehr rushed to a first down inside the Red and Black's one-yard line. Following two plays of no gain, on third down, South Carolina finally scored; however, prior to the third attempt, Referee Rowbotham whistled the first half had ended, negating the Carolina touchdown. Captain Bell was furious, kicking the ground and threatening to take his team off the field.
To open the second half, South Carolina, starting from its own 20-yard line, drove 90 yards on 20 rushes to a short scoring run by Bell. Hogan Yancey missed the PAT and the score was deadlocked at 5-5.
Towards the end of the game, both teams combined to lose four fumbles, two each, in a span of only five plays. Following the final loose ball, Georgia held possession at Carolina's five-yard line with four minutes left to play. Suddenly, Carolina's Bell began to dispute another of Rowbotham's calls--the last fumble given to Georgia. In protest of the fumbled ball coupled with the disputed call prior to the first half ending, Bell called his team off the field and South Carolina left in disgust. Rowbotham and Umpire Thornton had no choice and awarded Georgia a 5-0 forfeited victory.
It would be Georgia's final victory the season; the Red and Black dropped their final four games by a combined 159-11 score to finish the 1900 campaign with a 2-4 mark.


  • "It is to be regretted that so well fought a game should end in such an unsatisfactory manner."--The Red and Black
  • "[Leaving the field] could be nothing but babyishness, pure and simple, and the crowd let the boys know as [South Carolina] left the field."--The Athens Banner
  • "Bell ... said that his team had been robbed once too often and told the officials they could give the game to Georgia."--John Stegeman, "The Ghosts of Herty Field"
  • "[Bell's] statement that Mr. Rowbotham's decisions were 'partial' towards Georgia reminds us of the callow youths who made similar charges against the 'teacher,' in our grammar-school-days."--The Red and Black

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. It is hard to imagine, but IF we are playing football 90 years from now, almost everything we think is so important will be forgotten.

Thanks for the history of the 1900 game.