Maine was the first visiting team to lose in the Yale Bowl; 100 years later still seeking its initial victory over Yale

Maine will be looking for its first-ever win against Yale when it takes on the Bulldogs in Orono this weekend. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Maine will be looking for its first-ever win against Yale when it takes on the Bulldogs in Orono this weekend. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

 

UPDATE

The much anticipated renewal of the Yale-Maine rivalry, which began even before the Yale Bowl opened in 1914, took place on Oct. 17th, a few days after this article was posted. Not much has changed, however, The Black Bears are still looking for their first win over the Bulldogs, as Yale came from behind twice and pulled out a 21-10 victory at Orono, Me. in their first match up since 1937.

However, their teams won’t need to wait anywhere near that long to face each other again. It was announced during the game that they will play again next season, back in the Yale Bowl.

****

By Joel Alderman

With the Yale football team going on the road to face the University of Maine this Saturday, we take note that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Yale’s first victory in the Yale Bowl, which coincidentally was also against another Maine squad of several generations ago.

It also gave Maine the dubious distinction of being the initial visiting team to be defeated in the Bowl.

What was then the largest football stadium in the country opened at the end of the 1914 season, it was not the way Yale would have liked it. Harvard spoiled the party by decisively beating the Bulldogs. Yale had to wait until the following season to rack up a victory in its now historic facility, but not for long.

The first game in 1915 was against the Black Bears, following the custom of Yale schedule makers in that era to begin with an intentionally weak opponent

Yale and the University of Maine have been anything but regular football rivals. However, what they may lack in tradition is countered by longevity. They have played only eight times, all in New Haven, including twice at Yale Field before the big Bowl was completed. Let’s review the past, as we lead up to the present.

October 4, 1913: Maine 0 Yale 0

The two colleges had an even earlier history than the Yale Bowl. In 1913, in the first of the eight games they would play against each other, Maine came the closest it would ever come to beating Yale. It ended as a 0-0 tie at the former Yale Field. That was a notable accomplishment for the visitors, who had already lost to Harvard 34-0. The headline in The New York Times proclaimed “Maine Prevents Yale From Scoring,” and the first sentence of the story said that Maine “gave Yale the biggest surprise in years.”

Yale once reached a foot of the goal line but did not go. Maine had only a single first down, which came on the last play of the game. Yale’s captain was Henry (Hank) Ketcham.

The story in the Yale Alumni Weekly following
This story in the Yale Alumni Weekly following Yale’s 20-0 win over Maine in 1914. (Image: Jumpingfrog.com. Click to enlarge).

Sept. 26, 1914: Yale 20 Maine 0

A year later they played again, but not in the still uncompleted Yale Bowl. All the scoring was in the first half, as Yale took a 20-0 decision. Maine managed one better in first downs than the year before, with two. Yale was coached by Frank Hinkey.

Sept. 25, 1915: Yale 37 Maine 0

This was the occasion of Yale’s first victory in the Bowl, as referred to above. Scoring 21 points in the first quarter, Yale won easily, 37-0.

Because it was an unusually warm September 25th, the kick-off was not until 4 pm, an hour later than usual. That is still the latest starting time for a game in the 101 year history of the Bowl.

Yale was captained by Alex Wilson, to be a hero in World War I.

October 6, 1928: Yale 27 Maine 0

Fast forward 13 years when the rivalry was renewed with another easy win for the Bulldogs, 27-0, before 22,000. Although it was again held scoreless, in the second period Maine, behind four completed passes from quarterback Lyman Abbott, drove 60 yards to the Yale 10, before losing the ball on downs.

Maine was captained by James Buzzell, who was on the receiving end of a 30-yard pass late in the game that ended close to the Yale goal line.

Yale’s attack was featured by a 65-yard touchdown run by Brewster Loud, a pitcher on the baseball team. Other Bulldog’s to cross the goal line were Johnny Garvey (twice) and Jake Lampe.

Maine picked up 11 first downs to Yale’s 16, and gained 164 yards, though Yale had 275.

Maine 1929 3
The Maine varsity football squad in 1929. (Photo: Gridirongarb.com)

September 27, 1930: Yale 38 Maine 0

Again Yale faced Maine in the season opener, and again the Black Bears failed to score. It was another unusually hot day, so hot that the periods were limited to ten minutes. One of the six Yale touchdowns was made by the iconic Albie Booth after a 30-yard dash and a short lunge up the middle. Albie also made an extra point, presumably a drop kick.

An interesting thing took place the day before the contest, something that would be unheard of today. Mal Stevens, the Yale coach, invited the opposing coach, Fred Brice, to attend the Yale practice, which was held behind closed gates.

Considered a “minor” game, Yale charged all of 50-cents a ticket, one-tenth of the cost of a seat when Harvard played in the Bowl that same season, when the admission was $5.00.

October 3, 1931: Yale 19 Maine 0

Yale's famous Albie Booth scored a touchdown in games against Maine in 1930 and 1931. (AP Photo)
Yale’s famous Albie Booth scored a touchdown in games against Maine in 1930 and 1931. (AP Photo)

The following year, with Booth now captain, Yale won 19-0. It was the seventh straight game in which Maine did not score against the Bulldogs. A crowd of 25,000 was there as Coach Stevens abandoned the unbalanced line and the huddle, both of which Yale had used for the previous several years.

Booth, who played less than 15 minutes, scored a touchdown and returned a punt 55 yards. Maine did not have a single first down.

October 7, 1933: Yale 14 Maine 7

This was the closest Maine had come against Yale since they first met in 1913, and it marked the only points the Black Bears had registered in the seven games between them.

The first half was scoreless, thanks to Yale losing the ball on downs less than six inches from the Maine goal line. A minute later Yale got to within three feet of the end zone, and again it was stopped by a gallant though outweighed Maine line.

Later in the second quarter, Yale, coached now by Reggie Root, held on its 7-yard line. The Bulldogs finally scored in the third quarter on a touchdown by Sidney Towle, and went up, 14-0, in the fourth when Bob Lassiter went over.

Maine got to the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line, and Robert Littlehale, the fullback, hurled himself at the Yale line four times, scoring the break through touchdown on the last attempt from the one. Maine then trailed, 14-7. The touchdown did not alter the game, but it was a big moment for the school, which finally got on the scoreboard in its seventh game against Yale.

October 2, 1937: Yale 26 Maine 0

Clint_Frank
Clint Frank starred in Yale’s victory over Maine in 1937, and later that year was awarded the Heisman Trophy.

This was the last meeting of the teams, who will renew the rivalry this week after a 78 year hiatus. Unfortunately for the Black Bears, the game in 1937 reverted to another scoreless afternoon for the visitors. Yale won 26-0 before 11,000 spectators. The future Heisman Trophy recipient, Clint Frank, registered a T.D. in the first four minutes, and later executed a 74 yard scoring pass to Archie (Flick) Hoxton. The pass went from his 15 and was caught on Maine’s 28, making it 57 yards in the air. Another highlight was a 95-yard run back of the second half’s kick-off by Al Wilson.

October 17, 2015

The series now stands 7-0-1 in favor of Yale. The point totals are Yale 181, Maine 7. Maine is hoping that a hundred years is a long enough wait to reverse course. Its first objective Saturday is to score. The second is to win. Its players should be well aware of what happened in the past, as Yale’s must be. Maine hopes history won’t repeat. Yale wants it to continue.

Either way, it should make for college football history.

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