St. Louis SportsOnline
columnist & principal photographer
Onward to victory? 14 December 2001
As reported in the Chicago
Tribune on Thursday 13 December 2001:
- "Bridgewater College of Virginia will play in the Amos
Alonzo Stag Bowl against Mt. Union of Ohio on Saturday in the
Division III championship game even though NCAA officials and
Bridgewater agree that only a timekeeping error made it possible.
- Last Saturday the clock stopped at :01 -but play continued-
as the Eagles tried to rally against Rowan in the semifinals.
The halt allowed Bridgewater to run one more play, a touchdown
pass that produced a 29-24 victory.
- The mistake was confirmed by NCAA and Bridgewater officials
after they watched a replay that showed the play with the game
clock visible in the background."
For those of you who are familiar with football history, these
sorts of errors (in timekeeping or down counts) may not be too
In November 1940, undefeated Cornell University played Dartmouth
for a chance at the Number One ranking. However, the underdogs
from Dartmouth managed a slim 3-0 lead into the final minute of
play and stopped Cornell on four consecutive plays. The game officials
during a period of confusion believed that only three downs were
played and allowed another down for Cornell. The fifth down was
used by Cornell to score a touchdown and extra point and escape
with an apparent 7-3 victory. The officials realized their mistake
but insisted that the result could not be changed.
Quoting from Murray
Sperber's Onward To Victory,
- "In view of the conclusions reached by the officials
that the Cornell touchdown was scored on a fifth down, Cornell
relinquishes claim to the victory and extends congratulations
- -Statement from Cornell Athletic Director James Lynah to
- "I accept the final conclusion of the officials and
without reservation concede the victory to Dartmouth ... with
hearty congratulations to you and the gallant Dartmouth team."
- -Statement from Cornell Coach Carl Snavely to Dartmouth College
Fifty years later, Colorado benefited from a similar fifth
down during their pursuit of a national championship. In this
instant, Colorado refused to give back the victory.
Columns: The Academic