100 years ago on November 11, 1911, Carlisle achieved perhaps its greatest victory when the Indians defeated the Harvard Crimson 18-15 at Cambridge. This game is also considered to be Jim Thorpe’s greatest and one of the best games ever played in the annals of football.
Newspaper articles in the days leading up to the game, reported that Harvard Coach Percy Haughton planned to start his second team to wear down the Indians, who were known to make few substitutions, and put his first team in later in the game to finish off the exhausted Indians. So confidant in his strategy was Haughton that he didn’t bother attending the game. Instead, he spent the day in New Haven, CT scouting Yale for the upcoming rivalry game. Warner was confident about his team’s chances even though he said Captain Sampson Bird and tackle Bill Newashe would probably be unable to play because of injuries but he said nothing about Jim Thorpe’s leg and ankle.
Prior to the game, Warner bandaged his star tailback’s leg and swollen right ankle so that he could play, even if he couldn’t run at full speed and cut to escape would-be tacklers. Warner kept Thorpe’s condition a secret as part of his game strategy. Knowing that Harvard would be keying on his All America halfback, Warner used him mostly as a decoy who blocked for the person who was actually carrying the ball. A well-run single-wing offense, with all its fakes, makes it difficult to determine who has the ball. Guessing that Thorpe had it wasn’t a winning strategy for Harvard’s defense that day. Newashe was able to start but couldn’t finish the game as Hugh Wheelock substituted for him later in the game. Thorpe was eventually replaced by Eloy Sousa but not until his damage was done.