1892 Yale vs Harvard

Below is a detailed account of the 1892 Yale vs Harvard football game held in Hampden Park, Springfield on November 19.  This was published in the New York Sun the following day.  We have highlighted the key plays for quick review.  Touchdowns were awarded four points each. A successful goal from touchdown (extra point) was  awarded two points.

1892 Yale Football Team (Hinkey Archive)

November 20, 1892 - New York Sun

First Half

There was little preliminary practice before the ball was put into play, and the spectators therefore had no opportunity to get an idea of the relative strength of the rival kickers or of the ability of the red and blue legged rushers for falling on the ball.  Referee Moffat tossed the coin promptly at 2 o'clock, and Capt. McCormick having won chose the ball.  The Harvard men took the north end of the field, and with it a slight advantage from the gentle breeze that was blowing at their backs.  When time was called Yale formed a V with Capt. McCormick in the centre, and by a vigorous rush at Harvard's left end, made a gain of fifteen yards.  This was followed by an advance of two yards, after which Yale's centre fumbled, and Capt. McCormick was forced to give the signal for a kick.  Gray caught Butterworth's long punt, and ran five yards, but was promptly downed, and the ball was put in play again on Harvard's twenty-five yard line.

An unsuccessful attempt to get around Hinkey's end of the line resulted in no gain, and the leather was then passed to Brewer for a punt.  Butterworth tried to catch the ball as it sailed toward the Yale goal, but either through nervousness or miscalculation he allowed it to slip through his arms, and in a second the red-legged rushers had fallen on it and Harvard had the ball down well into Yale's territory.

1892 Harvard Football Team (Sawyer Collection)

This was a clear gain of forty yards for the Crimson, and Harvard's side of the field burst into an uproar of encouraging yelps and cheers.  But Yale's contingent returned the cheer, and when Newell tried to get through the opposing centre the Yale rushers downed him in his tracks.  Lake found a hole at the next play and advanced the ball for seven years, which was followed by two unsuccessful attempts to buck Yale's centre.

Brewer was then allowed to punt again and the same thing occurred as on his first kick.  Both L. Bliss and Butterworth fumbled on the catch, and the ball rolled over behind Yale's goal line.  The air was rent with Harvard's yells, for the men of Cambridge thought they had secured a touchdown in the scramble that was going on.  Referee Moffatt, however, decided that the Yale backs had been interfered with while attempting to catch the ball, and Stillman carried the leather to the fifteen-yard line and put it in play.

A wedge resulted in a gain of five yards, and Laurie Bliss followed with an unsuccessful try through the centre.  His brother succeeded in advancing the ball ten yards into Harvard's territory, and Winter gained his distance through the centre.  Butterworth made a long punt, which was lessened, however, by Wallis's vigorous tackling of Brewer, who made a fair catch.  Lake and Upton both made gains for Harvard, but a fumble gave the ball to Laurie Bliss, and he advanced it several yards by a pretty run along the sideline, which brought out lusty voiced compliments from the blue-decked grand stands.  Even handsome Dan who tugged at his chain in the hands of a Yale substitute, barked vigorously, and opened his big mouth with an appreciative canine smile.

Butterworth punted again, and Gray caught the ball gracefully, but Yale's enthusiastic end rushers were on him before he could regain his balance, and brought him to the ground with a thud that could be heard all over the field.  It knocked the wind out of the Harvard half back, but in a few moments he was on his feet again, and play was resumed.  Harvard made several short gains through the centre, but was soon forced to surrender the ball to Yale.  The latter put a clever trick into operation, and secured ten yards by a big hole through the Harvard line.

This was repeated twice, to the great exuberance of the Yale men behind the ropes and when at last Pop Bliss rushed around Hallowell's end of the line for ten yards the blue flags waved like aspen leaves in a tornado.  Laurie Bliss followed his brother's excellent example by a pretty run diagonally across the field, but his gain was not so great, and after a couple of attempts at the centre, Harvard got the ball on four downs.

The crimson team then made a mistake, and let Brewer kick.  He did not hit the ball fairly on the end of his toe, and it went spinning out of bounds into Butterworth's arms.  The Bliss brothers carried it slowly away from the danger mark, and finally passed it to their fullback for a punt.  Brewer emulated the Yale man's example, and fumbled on the catch but a red-legged rusher secured the  ball, and Harvard's goal was safe.

1892 Yale vs Harvard Football Program (Hinkey Archive)

After several ineffectual efforts to get past Stillman, McCrea, and Hickok, who by the way, are the youngest trio that ever played in the centre of a successful college eleven, the leather was again given to Brewer, but he sent it toward Haley's Comet instead of toward the Yale goal, and when it came down from its skyward trip McCormick received it with open arms and gave it to Laurie Bliss.  That young man created some excitement by disregarding the presence of one Emmons, who met his fate at the hands of Wallis by interference, and amid the joyous shrieks of Yale's contingent the ball was advanced twenty yards nearer Harvard's end of the field.

This success was followed by Trafford breaking through the Yale line and capturing the ball before McCormick could get it back.  The Crimson men then bucked the line and where at last forced a punt.  Butterworth failed to fumble and allowed McCormick to get the ball eight yards ahead under the protection of a wedge.  Then he punted and Yale recovered the ball on Brewer's fumbled return.  After four downs the ball went to Harvard again and the Crimson men bucked at Yale's juvenile centre.  There was an appreciable gain, but in a scrimmage Emmons was pretty roughly handled, and time was taken out while the rubbers helped bring him to himself again.

Harvard failed to get around Greenway's end, but succeeded in making a few yards between Hickok and Wallis, and then gave up the ball to Yale on four downs.  Their first move was to let Laurie Bliss sprint through the centre for thirty feet, with Butterworth  after him for half the distance  The latter then punted, but the ball struck a Harvard man with a loud slap and bounded backward.

Laurie Bliss was there, however, and caught it quickly enough to make an appreciable gain.  This exploit served only to give him a case of excitement, for the young half-back immediately followed it up with the run which proved to be one of the brilliant features of the game.  When the teams lined up, McCormick tossed the leather back of him, and the younger Bliss, with a running start, bounded toward Harvard's left end with the ball under his arm.  Greenway, Wallis, and McCormick were in front of him, and they put up some of that famous interference which has been talked of so much, but which Harvard had not allowed them to practice a great deal of up to this point.

A. Hamilton Wallis '93 (Sawyer Collection)

They dashed the crimson rushers to the right and to the left of them, and all the time Bliss continued ploughing ahead with head down and flaxen locks standing straight out behind him.  The music to which his feet marched down the field was met with a hoarse and continuous yell from the Yale side of the field, and the sharp, snapping bark of Handsome Dan tugging at his chain.  When he fell at the bottom of a heap of Harvard men the ball rested within twenty yards of the enemy's goal.  By a rush through the centre it was advanced five yards more, and then pop Bliss took it twice that distance further. 

Only nine feet more to gain, and Yale could score four points.  The grand stands were in a frenzy of excitement, but, like magic, a dead silence fell over the field at this critical moment.  At the most remote point the numerical signs of Yale's captain could plainly be heard, and the bent forms of the players could be seen striving to hold their line.  There was a rush, a gain, a low moan, and then the Harvard contingent arose and shouted like mad men.

The flags waved, and Yale knew that they had lost their first chance of scoring.  The elusive goddess of victory had proffered her hand, but the men of St. Elihu had failed to grasp it, and this is what had happened:  Lewis, the Harvard centre, succeeded in bothering Stillman of Yale to such an extent that he made a poor snap to McCormick, then one of the Harvard men broke through and fell on the ball, where it threatened them at their very gates.

It took some time for the crimson-bannered multitude to relapse into quietness, so strong had been the tension on their nerves, and blue flags opposite hung limp in the breeze at the disappointment of a lost opportunity.  Harvard tried to buck Yale's centre, but the Yalesnians arose in their might and held them in one spot during the two minutes which remained, and when time was called the ball was still where Yale had lost it.

Second Half

Harvard took the ball, and when the whistle sounded Capt. Trafford had disposed his men in positions which had never before been seen on a football field.  He stood over the ball.  Brewer was ten yards back of him, and the rest the team lined up in two groups twenty yards apart near the sides of the field.

The trick was new, and can well be called a "running V".  The two groups rushed toward Trafford and met just ahead of him.  He passed the ball to Brewer, who came into the apex of this wedge that had acquired a strong forward impetus, and before Yale could break the line the ball had been advanced twenty yards.   This success elated the onlookers who sympathized with Harvard and the cheers were long and loud.

Clifford Douglass Bliss '93 (Sawyer Collection)

A few short gains followed and then Brewer punted.  Butterworth caught the ball and made a short advance that was followed by gains by Laurie Bliss, McCormick, Pop Bliss, and Winter.  Here Yale showed again her superiority in interference and endurance and bucked Harvard's centre with such persistence that the ball was advanced far down the field.

The chief play of the series was a run by Pop Bliss of twenty-five yards.  Winter ran in front of him most of the way and warded off the tacklers who stood in his path.  The young half back was finally tackled by Hallowell, who overtook him from behind and brought him to the ground, amid the cheers and shouts of the whole assemblage.  Yale made a few more gains, and then stopped by Trafford's excellent play.

The fight was now well in Harvard's territory, and the Yale men began to regain some of that confidence which they had shown before the game, but which the first half had served to subdue greatly.  They cheered more and threw out more encouraging remarks to their representatives.  The players themselves seemed to have become demons.

They directed most of their attacks at Harvard's centre, and pounded there like the waves of the sea against the cliffs.  They broke and fell back, only to gather again and strike the harder, and when a man was tackled the great heaps of human beings that struggled for the ball rose higher than a man's head.  There was no slugging, there was no kicking and slashing, but there was the hardest kind of play.

1892 Yale Football Team after a hard fought game (Hinkey Archive)

The Harvard men, too, showed plainly that they were feeling the effects of this avalanche of energy  They sought their positions slowly, whereas the Yale men waved their arms about and bent their shaggy heads toward their opponents.  The crimson players were forced to gather on their knees and brace themselves three deep to resist this cyclone of blue determination to win.  The strain was so severe that Upton, whose head was cut and bleeding from a devastating hit by Hinkey, had to leave the field and allow Mason to take his place at tackle.

A few moments later, after Laurie Bliss had a made a fierce charge through guard and tackle for ten yards and Butterworth had bucked the centre for as much again, Emmons fell after a collision with Hinkey.  When the doctors said his arm was severely injured Shea came on and played at left end.

Emmons's retirement gave Yale a chance to rest the centre and try the new end rusher.  She did, and Laurie Bliss made a gain of twenty yards.  This was followed by rushes by Butterworth and Winter and the loss of the ball to Harvard.  Brewer punted and Yale captured the ball, not to lose it again until she had won the game.  The catch was made at the middle of the field.

James Alexander McCrea '95S (Sawyer Collection)

Butterworth bucked the centre for five yards, and Yale then got the same distance for Harvard's off side play.  The lank full back polished again past the sombre Lewis for eight yards, with Winter after him for two more.  Short gains followed, and they were all made by Butterworth and Bliss.  They bucked that crimson line like mad bulls and at every blow made their distances.

It was wonderful playing.  The people in the grand stands cheered so loudly that the substitutes inside the lines had to hold up their hands and request silence sothat Capt. McCormick's signals might be heard.  But one might as well have tried to stem the flood of Niagara.

The game went on.  The Harvard line was bucked and bucked and bucked.  Finally the ball had been rushed to a point within Harvard's five-yard line.  The crimson rushers bunched together in a frenzied effort to keep their opponents from scoring, and the Yale men gathered for their greatest effort.

Capt. McCormick saw it would be impossible to get through that wall of eleven men, and so he gave the signal for a trick.  His men lined up as though to charge the centre, but Pop Bliss took the ball and ran swiftly out from behind the crowd, around Harvard's right end, and across the line.  He touched the ball down in the very middle of the space between the goal posts.

Vance C. McCormick '93 (Sawyer Collection)

The scene that followed is one that is witnessed nowhere but at a college victory.  The Yale men were on their feet in an instant, and their shouts were even louder than they had been at any previous time.  Old men kissed one another for joy, and the veteran players and substitutes favored about the field like young colts.  The girls laughed and waved their kerchiefs, and the grandstand shook and quivered in ripples of blue bunting and silk.

When the hubbub had subsided McCormick lay down on the field and Butterworth sent the ball flying gracefully between the goal posts, making the score 6 to 0 in favor of Yale.

The cheering had not yet died away when the teams lined up again in the middle of the field.  Harvard tried the running V again, but the Yale men had met it once and knew how to tackle it.  The gain was no more than seven yards.

Not in the least discouraged, Capt. Trafford started in to do the best he could. He was not defeated yet, and the Yale men knew it as well as he did.  There were fifteen minutes more to play.  Trafford attacked Yale's centre, but he could not force the blue men back as his own followers had been driven before Yale's terrible onslaught.  Trafford pushed the ball down to Yale's twenty-five yard line.  Determined to try for a goal from the field, Trafford dropped back.  When the ball was passed, however, the Yale rushers broke through, and Harvard's last hope of scoring was gone.  The Crimson captain was downed in his tracks, and Winter succeeded in securing the ball.  Both teams were beginning to show the effects of the hard work they had been doing.  During the last minutes of the game the ball remained at about the same spot.

When time was called and the game was over there was a mighty roar and a rush for the field and the victorious team.

The Yale team were seized in strong arms and carried in triumph from the field, while the followers of the blue in the stands cheered continuously for fully five minutes, shook hands in congratulation, patted each other on the back, and said that it was a glorious victory.

Final Score: Yale 6 - Harvard 0