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1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football team

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Covid-19
1903 record  6–1–1 (4–1–1 SIAA)
Captain  W. W. Suddarth
Head coach  A. L. Phillips
1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football team
Conference  Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association

The 1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football team represented Cumberland University in the 1903 college football season. The team was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), compiling a 6–1–1 record. The Bulldogs notably beat Vanderbilt and tied John Heisman's Clemson at year's end in a game billed as the "SIAA Championship Game." They also beat Alabama, LSU, and Tulane in five days. The school claims a share of the SIAA title. It has been called "the best football team in the history of Cumberland."

Contents

Before the season

For the 1903 season, point values were different from those used in contemporary games. In 1903 a touchdown was worth five points, a field goal was worth five points and a conversion (PAT) was worth one point.

Schedule

Games with Kentucky State College and Kentucky University were cancelled.

at Vanderbilt

Cumberland upset the Vanderbilt Commodores 6–0. Four minutes after the game started, Waterhouse had the decisive touchdown. M. O. Bridges had his right collarbone broken.

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), James (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Newton (right halfback), M. O. Bridges (fullback).

Sewanee

Cumberland suffered the season's only loss to the Sewanee Tigers. Henry D. Phillips plowed through the line for the deciding score.

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), James (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).

Tennessee Medical College

Cumberland defeated Tennessee Medical College 86–0.

Grant University

Cumberland then walloped Grant University of Athens 92–0.

Alabama

To close the regular season, Cumberland beat Alabama, LSU, and Tulane all by shutout in five days. Red Smith and Head starred in the 44–0 defeat of Alabama. Cumberland outweighed Alabama by an average of nearly 30 pounds.

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), M. O. Bridges (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).

LSU

Just two days later, Cumberland beat W. S. Borland's LSU Tigers 41–0. The starting lineup was Ashley (left end), M. O. Bridges (left tackle), Lieper (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Sanders (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).

Tulane

Two days later still, Cumberland defeated Tulane 28–0.

"SIAA championship game"

Cumberland tied John Heisman's Clemson Tigers in a game billed as the SIAA championship. Cumberland rushed out to an early 11 to 0 lead. Wiley Lee Umphlett in Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football writes, "During the first half, Clemson was never really in the game due mainly to formidable line play of the Bridges brothers–giants in their day at 6 feet 4 inches–and a big center named "Red" Smith, was all over the field backing up the Cumberland line on defense. Clemson had been outweighed before, but certainly not like this."

A contemporary account reads "The Clemson players seemed mere dwarfs as they lined up for the kickoff. To the crowd on the sidelines it didn't seem that Heisman's charges could possibly do more than give a gallant account of themselves in a losing battle." A touchdown was scored by fullback E. L. Minton (touchdowns were worth 5 points). Guard M. O. Bridges kicked the extra point. Halfback J. A. Head made another touchdown, but Bridges missed the try.

After halftime, Clemson quarterback John Maxwell raced 100 yards for a touchdown. Clemson missed the try. Cumberland fumbled a punt and Clemson recovered. Cumberland expected a trick play when Fritz Furtick simply ran up the middle and scored. One account of the play reads "Heisman saw his chance to exploit a weakness in the Cumberland defense: run the ball where the ubiquitous Red Smith wasn't. So the next time Sitton started out on one of his slashing end runs, at the last second he tossed he ball back to the fullback who charges straight over center (where Smith would have been except that he was zeroing in on the elusive Sitton) and went all the way for he tying touchdown." Jock Hanvey kicked the extra point and the game ended in an 11–11 tie. The winning team was to be awarded the ball. Captain W. W. Suddarth of Cumberland wanted captain Hope Sadler of Clemson to get the ball, and Sadler insisted Suddarth should have it. Some ten minutes of bickering was resolved when the ball was given to patrolman Patrick J. Sweeney, for warning the media and fans to stay down in front and allow spectators to see the game. Heisman pushed for Cumberland to be named SIAA champions at year's end, and the school claims a share of the title. It was Heisman's last game as Clemson head coach.

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), M. O. Bridges (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).

Awards and honors

  • Captain: W. W. Suddarth
  • All-Southern: M. O. Bridges, W. W. Suddarth, Red Smith, J. C. Anderson.
  • References

    1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football team Wikipedia


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