Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 9, 1912: Jim Thorpe beats Army

WEST POINT, N.Y. - In 1912, Army wasn't quite the national power it would become in the coming decades, but it was still a formidable team. The Cadets, for example, had given up only 23 points combined in the previous two seasons.

The 1912 Army football team is notable for having two famous teammates, though they weren't very well known at the time. Among the Cadets playing on that team were Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, both of whom would be promoted to the rank of four-star general during World War II.

Eisenhower and Bradley got their fame long after suiting up for West Point, though. On November 9, 1912, the most famous man on the field was playing for the opposition. Fresh off his stunning performance at the 1912 Olympics, Jim Thorpe was now a college football star for the Carlisle Indian School. Along with having Thorpe in the fold, Carlisle was coached by the legendary Pop Warner, a man who did more to expand and enhance the game of football than perhaps anybody.

With Warner calling the shots and Thorpe doing the dirty work, Carlisle rolled. Dominating the game like no one before him, Thorpe ran over, around, and through the Cadets, completely overpowering them. Especially memorable was one punt return in which all 11 Army players on the field had a chance at him before they were finally able to bring him down. Led by Thorpe's heroics, Carlisle beat Army 27-6. It was the most points Army had ever given up in a single game, and it would be the most points they would allow to any opponent besides Notre Dame until 1923.

The Carlisle Indian school only lasted until 1918 before it was closed so the government could use the grounds for its barracks - and also because people started realizing it wasn't a great idea to have boarding schools at which Native Americans could learn to better change their traditions and assimilate. But Carlisle did leave a lasting legacy on the football field. Led by Warner and Thorpe, the school closed with the team sporting a .647 career winning percentage, including one monumental victory over Army.

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