Yale’s Defeat Told in Detail by Runyon

Damon Runyon

Honolulu Star-Bulletin/December 1, 1915

Writer at Cambridge Struggle Gives Credit to Mahan for Big Score—Yale Proves to Be Weak in All Departments of Game—Atherton Gilman Plays Entire Game for Crimson—Great Work of Harvard Captain Gives Victory to John Harvard

Tom Shevlin’s celebrated psychological punch was about 150 miles too short. It carried from Minneapolis, Minn., to New Haven, Conn., with such force that it rocked Princeton. N. J., with great violence, but there its effect ended. It never touched Cambridge, Mass. It was not even swung at Cambridge, Mass.

In fact, there is a strong suspicion abroad in this community tonight that Yale, which was supposed to be the custodian of the Shevlin psychological punch, mislaid it before coming to Cambridge, along with all its other punches.

No Defense Needed

Percy Haughton, who yearly contrives ways and means for defending the gridiron of Cambridge, with fair Harvard as his agency, had gone to a great deal of trouble to figure out a guard against the psychological punch, but by the end of the first period of the Harvard-Yale football game this afternoon he discovered that he did not need a guard for the punch.

All he needed here was a fallback. Edward Mahan supplied that need. He supplied it so well that P. Haughton had enough full backing left over to stock another season or two.

As the shades of night enwrapped Soldier’s field and Cambridge and Boston and the State of Massachusetts generally, the score stood 41 to 0.

Score Approaches Record

And as there seemed to be no further good reason to cut Mahan loose again and cause him a lot of unnecessary exertion, the boys knocked off and called it a full union day.

Statistics prove that this was the greatest score, with but one exception, ever made by one side since Harvard and Yale began enjoying football relations some 40 years back.

Fifty thousand persons were remarking on this fact as they marched out of the exits into the gathering night. In 1884 Yale beat Harvard by a score of 48 to 0, but that was under the old scoring system and it is quite reasonable to suppose that Harvard had no Edward Mahan at that remote period. Last year, with an Edward Mahan, Harvard beat Yale 36 to 0 and that stood as the next best mark until today.

This was Mahan’s last football game as a Harvard collegian. He stretched himself over enough of it to cover the history of the gridiron for the next 50 years. He made four out of six touchdowns and kicked five goals from touchdown out of a total of six chances. It was about as remarkable an exhibition of football playing as was ever seen on any field.

A word here about Edward Mahan: He is now 23 years old. He stands 5 feet 11-½ inches on the soles of his feet and weighs 171 pounds. Every ounce of that poundage was in action today. He carried it through, over and around and about the psychological-punchless Yale team for 29 points out of a total of 41.

Mahan is a loose-jointed, rangy fellow with a knee action like a racehorse. Once under way it is almost impossible to stop him. With a football tucked under his arm or cuddled to his bosom, he is kin to the well-known irresistible force.

King and Hart Figured

It must not be imagined that Mahan was all alone in his efforts today, for he was merely an important cog in a great machine, but the noise of his working could be heard so distinctly above the roar and rumble of the other parts of the machine that he is entitled to a separate niche in this narrative.

King and Hart and various other Harvard players stood out, but Mahan was—he was Mahan.

There are few Mahans in the run of the old gridiron game. It is doubtful that even had Yale packed the psychological punch along to Cambridge that it would have availed anything. Harvard had too much all-around competency. A psychological punch is a grand thing, but general all-around, all-fired competency—and Eddie Mahan—is a very difficult combination.

Sometimes Harvard played one kind of football against Yale today, then she would try another. Then again Haughton’s boys would try still another brand. Yale was in the position of a fighter who gets hit in the stomach at the first punch and then is hit there again every few seconds without ever having a chance to recover from the first blow.

Harvard used a little old-style football, a little new-style football, and a little football that was all Harvard-style football. As a result the Yale football folks were soon pop-eyed with bewilderment. A sort of delayed double play that would send a Harvard man skittering down the field with the ball while the Yale boys were probing the situation for someone else altogether was a feature, but Harvard had other interesting forms of befuddlement.

And Yale had nothing.

Alas, Yale did not have even the Shevlin psychological punch. Those who accepted the Princeton game as a forerunner of what might occur here are now metaphorically kicking themselves for permitting the Yale money to go imploring.

A press stand wag thought up an appropriate interview for Frank Hinkey, the dispossessed head coach at Yale, as the game was drawing to a close. It is not likely that the interview will ever be given out by Mr. Hinkey. For fear that it may be lost to the world, it is given here in its imaginary form:

“I have no desire to take one whit of the credit for coaching the Yale team from Mr. Shevlin. The honor is all his.”

Strictly as a football game, then, this contest was not much. But, nevertheless, it had all the life and color of any Harvard-Yale gridiron grapple. It drew the prettiest girls in all the world and it brought out the reddest-blooded men, and though great was the fall of Yale, the game furnished a wonderful spectacle.

There were several incidents that brought the spectators up standing with yells in their throats, too, notably the run of Harte to a touchdown in the early stages of the game. But after touchdowns got a little too common to cause any vast excitement, the spectators could only sit and marvel at Mahan and the machine that Haughton had wrought.

Theoretically the game did not carry with it the championship of the East, as Harvard has been defeated by Cornell, but the championship of the Big Three was at stake and that was enough to make it worthwhile.

Yale’s sudden revival and her defeat of Princeton had given Yale men new hope and until the close of the first period today it seemed that the hope was justified.

Harvard’s squad was the first to appear, but the Yale bunch trotted on the damp field almost immediately afterward. At 2 o’clock Alex Wilson and Mahan, the rival captains, met in the center of the field with Nate Tufts, the referee, and after a brief consultation Tufts flipped a silver coin high in the air. Mahan won the toss and picked the north goal, getting the advantage of the wind.

Guernsey Kicks Off

Guernsey toed up the ball and kicked off for Yale. Boles took the ball on the bounce, but was dropped before he had gone very far, and Harvard kicked again, Van Nostrand making a fair catch on Yale’s 35-yard line.

After a brief scrimmage Yale punted the ball into Harvard territory, where a penalty for holding finally put the ball on Harvard’s five-yard line and compelled the Crimson to kick. Mahan made a terrific punt of fully fifty yards, Guernsey making a fair catch. Alex Wilson galloped 25 yards through the Crimson, but on the next play Bingham fumbled the ball, which was recovered by King on Harvard’s 25-yard line.

Mahan again kicked, the ball dropping 40 yards beyond his toe to Yale’s 30-yard line.

Bingham was under the ball as it turned in the wind, but dropped it as Harte, coming down the field with a terrific burst of speed, grabbed up the bounding leather. The Harvard man also fumbled for a minute, but never completely lost his clutch on the ball and the next moment he was bounding over the blue goal line for a touchdown. No Yale man was even close to him as he made his recovery and he had a clear field before him. Mahan missed his attempt at a goal from touchdown due to the tricky wind.

From the center of the field Harvard began a drive which carried through Yale’s left tackle to Yale’s 30-yard line. A dash by Watson, the Harvard quarter, put the ball on Yale’s 10-yard line and then Eddie Mahan lugged it five yards more. Yale was penalized for holding half the distance to her goal line, leaving just about another yard to go and Mahan snatched a poor pass off his shoe top and carried the ball across, running under the goal posts.

This time Mahan kicked with better judgment and added another point to the Harvard score. Early in the second period Harvard made another march to win fifteen yards of the Yale goal, the New Haven team having now shifted to the other end of the field.

There after several scrimmage Harvard pulled off a marvelously quick double pass and put the ball in Mahan’s hands and the big back crashed through the very center of the Yale defense with the queer twisting motion that marks his running and planted the ball behind the posts for Harvard’s third touchdown. It was a great play well executed.

All through this march the agility of the Crimson carriers of the ball, including the tackles, was wonderful.

Soon afterward almost identically the same play in the middle of the field gave the ball to King and the Boston boy dodged his way through the Yale players now scattered wide between him and the Yale goal to another touchdown. Once or twice if looked as if the outstretched arms of a Yale tackler would enfold the runner, but King eluded them all and not until he had crossed the line and had gone some distance behind it did a Yale man get up.

Yale Has No Voice

As the first half was nearing a close the Harvard rooters began singing Yale’s celebrated “Undertaker Song,” as the Yale side showed no disposition to strike up that lugubrious dirge. The half ended with the ball in the center of the field in Harvard’s possession and the crowd poured out on the side lines for a promenade.

The white clouds in the sky had darkened by the end of the first half and occasional slashes of cold rain were felt by the spectators. For the first time in the game Harvard began using the so-called open game. A lateral pass and a beautiful forward pass then went from Mahan to Coolidge and lifted the ball right up against Yale’s goal.

Coolidge juggled the ball for an instant after he caught it and even while he was juggling it a Yale tackler had him around the waist, but Coolidge clung to his precious burden as he hit the ground. Soon afterward Mahan carried the ball over for a touchdown. Mahan kicked the goal from a touchdown. After this touchdown Yale also resorted to a forward pass, the first attempt from Scovil to Savage netting a fair gain.

Emboldened by this success, Savage tried another and a very long one, and Alex Wilson, the Yale captain, carried the ball over the Harvard goal line, but Yale was offside and had to take the ball back without profit. It was now getting quite dark and the spectators on top of the great stand had a hard time in keeping the ball in view.

In the closing stages of the game Mahan rooted his way around and under the Yale line for still another touchdown and booted still another goal from touchdown.

(Source: Chronicling America, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014682/1915-12-01/ed-2/seq-12/#date1=12%2F01%2F1915&index=0&rows=20&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&words=DAMON+RUNYON&proxdistance=5&date2=12%2F10%2F1915&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=Damon+Runyon&andtext=&dateFilterType=range&page=1)