I was recently asked if Pop Warner unveiled the single-wing against Penn in the Carlisle Indians’ fifth game of the 1907 season. Penn was actually Carlisle’s 7th opponent that year but that was probably just a typo made by the person asking the question. This was the first time I had heard (or read) that the single-wing was first used in that particular game. I have seen it attributed to several other times but not that one. A little research found a source for this claim but quite possibly not the only person to make it. Follows is an extract from an article on the Carlisle Indians in LeatherHelmetIllus.com:
‘Pop’ Warner unveiled the new [single-wing] formation against the University of Pennsylvania, on Oct. 26, 1907. So far that season no team had crossed the Quaker’s goal line. Carlisle was undefeated. A large crowd of 22,800 fans looked on. They were expecting a good game but they got more than they bargained for. Carlisle scored on the second play: a 40 yard pass from Hauser to Gardner, caught on the run. The diversified offense racked up 402 yards, to 76 yards for Penn., Carlisle went 8 of 16 passing. The game also marked the debut of Jim Thorpe. He broke free for 45 yards the second time he touched the ball. The Indians won 26 – 6.
After finding this, I set about locating game accounts in period newspapers. Before resolving the issue of the single-wing, I noticed a significant error—or the sports writers of the day had it all wrong. Nowhere did I find mention of (William) Gardner scoring a touchdown or anything else in that game. What I did find in the coverage by The Washington Post, The New York Times, United Press and other wire service accounts was that the Indians’ first score came on a field goal kicked by Pete Hauser early in the game. That score was followed by Fritz Hendricks’ 100-yard touchdown run after picking up Hollenbach’s fumble. Payne closed out the first-half scoring with a touchdown of his own around Penn’s end from the 4-yard line. Penn played better in the second half and didn’t allow Carlisle an offensive touchdown. However, Little Boy scored his touchdown by diving on a Penn punt that Albert Exendine had blocked and fell behind their goal line. Hauser closed out Carlisle’s scoring with a second field goal. Frank Mt. Pleasant kick the extra points after each touchdown. Although Mt. Pleasant and Hauser received much praise for their passing in this game, none of their tosses went for a touchdown to Gardner or anyone else.
The next blog will deal with the errors related to Jim Thorpe and the single-wing.