Friday marks the 100th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s 222-0 blowout of little Cumberland College in the most lopsided game in college football history.
There has always been speculation that Georgia Tech head coach John Heisman, for whom the Heisman Trophy is named, ran the score up because the Lebanon, Tennessee, school had beaten the “Golden Tornado” 22-0 in a baseball game the previous spring. Heisman, who was Georgia Tech’s athletics director, also coached the school’s baseball team.
During his career Heisman coached at Oberlin, Buchtel, Auburn, Clemson, Penn, Washington Jefferson and Rice, but he was at Georgia Tech the longest, serving from 1904 until 1919. The reason he left Atlanta in 1919 was because he got a divorce and didn’t want to cause his ex-wife any social embarrassment by being in the same city.
But Heisman apparently had no concern about embarrassing Cumberland. The Presbyterian affiliated school attempted to cancel the contest because they were dropping football, but it was a guarantee game for Georgia Tech, and it paid Cumberland $500. Had Cumberland canceled, there was a $3,000 penalty, so they rounded up 12 to 16 players, mostly fraternity members and played. As it turned out, it would have fared better by paying the $3,000.
Georgia Tech scored 32 touchdowns in the win. The Yellow Jackets put up 63 points in both the first and second quarters, 34 in the third and 42 in the fourth. They rushed for 978 yards on 40 carries and didn’t throw a pass the entire game, which was shortened to 12-minute quarters in the third and fourth instead of the normal 15. Cumberland had minus-42 yards rushing on 27 carries and completed 2-of-18 passes for 14 yards.
Georgia Tech has scored more than 100 points four other times. The Yellow Jackets blanked Mercer 105-0 in 1914, and the 1918 squad went over the century mark on three occasions beating N.C. State 128-0, the 11th Calvary 123-0 and Furman 118-0.
Cumberland dropped football after the game with Georgia Tech in 1916 and resumed play in 1920 and continued until 1929 when it dropped the sport again. Cumberland picked back up in 1932 and played until 1941 when it halted the sport due to World War II. It was back to the gridiron in 1947 for three seasons before suspending play again.
Cumberland didn’t pick football back up until 1990 and have been playing since. It competes in the NAIA as a member of the Mid-South Conference. When playing in that game with Georgia Tech Cumberland was known as the Bulldogs, a nickname that stood until this past January, when it changed to the Phoenix.
While the 222-0 Georgia Tech-Cumberland score will be an all-time high that likely will stand forever, the modern day record for most points by an NCAA college team is held by the 1969 Fort Valley State Wildcats coached by Stan Lomax. Fort Valley State crushed Knoxville College by a 106-0 margin.
The modern day record by an FBS team is by the Houston Cougars when they beat Tulsa 100-6 in 1968.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org