We all know that Clemson Football started in 1896.
It was on Oct. 31 of that year that Clemson actually played its first ever football game. The contest was played in Greenville, SC and the opponent was Furman. The Tigers won the game 14-6 and for many of the Clemson players it was the first time they had ever seen a regulation size football field. Practice back in 1896 took place on a 50 foot by 200 foot field in front of the college.
On Oct. 22, 1900 Clemson Defeated Wofford by a recorded score of 21-0, I say recorded score because no one truly knows how many points Clemson scored that day. The two schools had made a pregame agreement that stated after the first four touchdowns no other points would count. The Tigers put 21 points on the board in the first six minutes of the game and from there on out no accurate tally was kept. As a matter of fact, all subsequent touchdowns by the Tigers were called back and the ball was given to the Terriers deep in Clemson territory fro penalties such as running over a would be Wofford tackler.
Clemson open the 1901 season on Oct. 5 against Guilford and John Heisman's squad took the opportunity to set a school record that still stands to this day. The Tigers racked up 122 points in the game. They averaged 30 yards per play and averaged a touchdown every 86 seconds. The first half lasted 20 minutes, but the second half was limited to 10. Clemson legend has it that everyman on the team scored a touchdown that day for the Tigers.
Oct. 30 was the date for the Clemson-South Carolina game in 1902.
The only referee for the contest was actually the head coach at Furman Colonel Charles S. Roller Jr. A famous player for Yale at the time, Bronco Armstrong, was also supposed to be on the officiating crew, but he could not make it to the game because the train on which he was riding was in an accident. Not surprisingly, not a single penalty was called in the game. South Carolina won the game 12-6, but tempers were hot. The next night there was a riot was Tiger faithful and Gamecock faithful. The riot was so ugly that officials at both schools cancelled the football series. Clemson and South Carolina did not meet on the gridiron again until 1909.
On Oct. 17, 1903 Clemson defeated Georgia Tech 73-0. The John Heisman led team ran for a school record 615 yards on only 55 carries. The score was so lopsided at half that the second half was shorten to only 15 minutes, but it was what had happened the week before that makes this game my favorite story in all of Clemson football history. On Oct. 10, 1903 Clemson defeated Georgia 29-0. The Bulldog players made a deal with the Clemson guys. For every point the Tigers scored above 29 against Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs would send to Clemson a bushel of apples. The fruit of the tree was not in short supply as the cadets received 44 bushels of apples from the defeated Dogs.
Oct. 28, 1903 would be the last game Heisman coached for Clemson. His Tigers downed NC State 24-0 at the fairgrounds in Columbia. The game was scheduled to start around 12 noon because the field had to be turned over at 12:45pm to the racing association. There was such a crowd that gathered for the football game that they spilled out of the grandstands on to the sidelines and actually onto the field. This delayed the start of the game and since the contest was under a time constraint to begin with the coaches decide to play only 16 minute halves instead of the agreed upon 20 minute halves. Even that did not work out, so the game was called when the field had to be turned over. It turned out to be a really special day for Coach Heisman as he married Evelyn Barksdale there in Columbia after the game. By the end of November John Heisman and his new bride were off to Atlanta, as he took the Georgia Tech head coaching job for $2,250 per year and 30 percent of net receipts.
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