[From the Michigan Alumnus Magazine, November 30, 1940]
Glorious Gird iron History Ends Season By Crushing
Ohio State by Overwhelming Score. Tom Harmon
Climaxes Brilliant Career With a Performance Which
Stamps Him as One of the Outstanding Stars
HARMON RUNS BACK OHIO'S OPENING KICK-OFF TO
HIS OWN 26-YARD LINE. Aided by his Touchdown Twin M
of two years ago, Paul Kromer (83) and by Westfall,
Harmon blasts his way past Maag, (33) and Langhurst
(8) before being brought down. Rogers, (78) has kept
Thom (46) out of the play at the far sideline. Referee
Masker is behind Harmon.
ONE of the greatest Varsity teams in Michigan's long history of strong elevens wrote Finis to its record on November 23.
And it was a finale worthy of such a Varsity. It trampled into the rain soaked turf of Ohio State's stadium at Columbus a good Buckeye team its supporters had confidently expected would conquer Michigan. The score, 40-0, describes perfectly the manner in which the Wolverines rode to triumph in their last appearance of the present season.
When it was all over there were few present unwilling to lend ear to the exuberant Michiganders who were calling this Varsity of 1940 the greatest of all Michigan teams and the top team in the country today. The statisticians certainly will not agree to the latter claim, for there stands that heartbreaking loss at Minneapolis as an item difficult to debate. The enthusiasts of other years may dispute the right of this 1940 team to the high place in glorious Michigan history to which its supporters assign it. The happy boys who made their locker room in the Ohio stadium a carnival after the game were not at all concerned about the place assigned to them in history. They had just atoned for the one black spot on their season's record and had done so most satisfactorily. They had done it brilliantly; the season was over, and everybody was happy.
It was a smashing Michigan victory. But it was something else, too. It was a fitting capsheaf for the career of a Varsity player who has been classed by many an expert as one of the all-time stars of football. Tom Harmon has played his last game for Michigan. And his last was one of his best. He was the scintillating star of the game, the top scorer, the key man in the whole of the devastating Wolverine offense.
There have been many other Harmon Days during the three-year gridiron career of this fine University of Michigan student. This was the greatest of all-surpassing even that birthday celebration of last September out in Berkeley, California. Opposed by a team which last year had won the Western Conference Championship, the marked man on the field, ballyhooed by news writers until only miracles were expected of him, he ran and passed and kicked as only a star of the first rank can do. For fifty-nine minutes and twenty-two seconds he held the spotlight, and then trotted off the field with the sincere plaudits of more than 74,000 spectators, friend and foe alike, ringing in his ears.
That is not all this game meant to Michigan. There was something else; something very important in the Michigan tradition. Paul Kromer rode to fame in this season's finale--Paul Kromer, the almost forgotten member of the Touchdown Twins of 1938!
In that season of two years ago two boys flashed brilliantly across the gridiron horizon. Tom Harmon and Paul Kromer, Sophomores, halfbacks, teamed to give to Michigan the promise of the greatest backfield combination in football history. Then stark tragedy struck in the form of an injury to Kromer in the first game of the following season and his football effectiveness was over.
IT WASN'T the Paul Kromer of 1938 who last Saturday wrote his name high in the roster of Wolverine gridiron immortals. It was a Paul Kromer who had refused to admit that he could no longer be of help to Michigan; who stayed with football through bitter disappointment; who sat on the bench throughout most of two seasons. It was a Paul Kromer who had conquered his own emotions and who held himself ready to play if and when he was called on. And Coach Fritz Crisler called on him in this Ohio State game; called him into the starting line-up.
And before the first quarter was over this forgotten partner of the Touchdown Twins had run 80 yards for a touchdown. As he started that great run, one crucial block was needed to clear the path. It was the other half of the Touchdown Twins who made that block and into it Tom Harmon put every bit of the drive and power at his disposal, for he, above all others, wanted Paul Kromer to go through.
The little halfback was probably the happiest fellow in the whole Michigan squad that night. His happiness was shared, though, to the full by his teammates. There's another fellow who knows how Paul Kromer feels. He's an alumnus now, but last year he was a Varsity player. He too played in the final game of the season, against Ohio State, and he made the winning touchdown to cap a Varsity career which was dogged all the way by misfortune. Paul Kromer's name is inscribed alongside that of Freddie Trosko's now in the chronicling of Michigan gridiron greatness.
Not even the wildest of Michigan partisans foresaw a Wolverine triumph such as the Varsity produced against Ohio State. Buckeye adherents were not one whit reluctant in predicting a victory for their team. They knew Ohio's inherent strength in spite of the several setbacks of the current season. Their team was at nearly full strength for the first time since early in the fall. They felt sure that the Buckeyes would "click" in this all-important game of their schedule. The optimism of both camps was reflected in the capacity attendance, attained more than two weeks in advance of the game and in spite of the fact that neither team was a contender for the Big Ten title.
The Michigan victory was complete and impressive. After the initial exchange of punts in the opening quarter, there was no question of the result. Michigan completely dominated not only in the score but in the play. Ohio State penetrated Michigan territory just twice in the sixty minutes of play and on neither of these invasion trips got beyond the 40-yard line. Coach Schmidt threw 31 players into the battle in an attempt to stem the Wolverine onslaught. All were ineffective.
The Michigan attack was sustained at high tempo all the way. There was none of the old-time inclination to coast after the attainment of a comfortable winning margin. The score by periods indicates best how the Wolverines kept right at the business of making the afternoon a most uncomfortable one for the hapless Buckeyes. With startling regularity, the touchdowns were rung up, all of them, save Kromer's, being the result of relentless and sustained drives from their own territory, across the midline and through the Ohio defense to the final goal line.
Down on the field, during all this time, an interesting thing was happening. The spectators who possessed field glasses were probably the only ones in the vast throng who witnessed it. The Wolverines were having the time of their lives, enjoying the game hugely and laughing and kidding each other from the second period on-after they had acquired their safe lead and their assurance of victory. Even Reuben Kelto, the quietest fellow on the whole squad, loosened up and proceeded to "have a time for himself."
The result was a completely relaxed eleven Michigan men on the field and a consequent precision and deadliness in the play which swung the Wolverine machine along irresistibly. The pressure was off, and while the Varsity has been able to do more than well when said pressure was the toughest, the relaxation seemed to have a similar effect.
Captain Evashevski called everything in the Michigan repertoire and it all worked perfectly. Passes, spinners, reverses, double reverses, screened passes, fake place kicks, and straight bucks--all produced gains. Twice he tried passes on fourth down, thereby completely crossing up the opposition and making the necessary distance--and more. But it was the ever-present threat of either Harmon or Westfall that spelled the doom of the best efforts of the Buckeyes to defend successfully. Ingalls' pass from center was generally to Westfall, just as it has been most of the season. But from that point on the defense was at sea. They never could figure out whether it was to be a buck by Westfall or a lateral to Harmon for an end run. If the linemen submarined in to stop Westfall, they generally would look up afterward to see the All-American Harmon disappearing in the distance. So both of them made many yards right through the Ohio defense.
Eight Seniors played their last game for Michigan on this November 23 afternoon. A ninth was back in Ann Arbor, lonesomely listening to the game over the radio from his bed in University Hospital; for Milo Sukup, veteran guard, has not been available for any of the three final games. The day's three ends, Rogers, Frutig and Czak, are all Seniors. Fraumann, the other of the four men who played at the flanks for the Wolverines against Ohio, will be back for another season. Fritz has been in at guard for Line Coach Clarence Munn for the last time. Backfield Coach Earl Martineau has seen Captain Evashevski,,Harmon and Kromer in his lineup or the final game. Little Harry Kohl, the midget and. veteran quarterback, was sent in by Coach Fritz Crisler so be could play out his string for Michigan.
All of the others will be back, plus a more than satisfactory crop of Freshmen who showed their wares to the coaches last week in an inter-squad game which produced excellent tackling, blocking and charging.
Five minutes after the game started, Michigan started its first touchdown drive. A quick kick caught Kromer unprepared and Ohio State thereby extricated itself from a tough spot-and put Michigan on its own 20-yard line. Westfall proceeded to start the 80-yard drive with two of the total of eleven plays needed to score, by making sixteen yards in two charges into the Buckeye line. Harmon added seven and Westfall made it another first down by inches. By dint of dodging and squirming past six Ohio tacklers, each one of whom was sure he had the All-American shackled, Harmon made nine yards and Westfall took the ball deep into Ohio territory with an 11-yard smash for a first down.
Things looked dangerous momentarily at this point when Harmon fumbled the slippery ball, but Rogers recovered. As a reward, Evashevski signaled Rogers for a pass catch on the goal line, but Rogers could not connect with the Harmon toss--just as Frutig had failed about five minutes before. But a fourth down toss to Kromer netted a 22-yard advance and then, on the next play, Harmon romped over for the first score, with four minutes still to play in the quarter.
Just 90 seconds later Michigan had its second touchdown. It was the Kromer run. He grabbed Scott's fine punt on his own 20-yard line, feinted to the left and then cut over toward the center of the field. Harmon spilled the nearest Buckeye with a strenuous block and Rogers put another one out of action. Kolesar swung into action and two more Buckeyes went out of action. Wistert disposed of another-and then it was just a case of Kromer's outrunning the hopelessly pursuing remainder. Though lacking about fifty percent of his old speed and agility, Kromer sped down the side of the field and over for the score-the climax of his Varsity career. Harmon made good on the placement after having missed his first attempt.
The next Michigan touchdown drive started 77 yards away from the goal line but it never faltered until it reached the last chalk mark far down the field. Westfall again started it off with a 14-yard smash for a first down. Rogers and Harmon carried the ball for the next first down, and a Harmon-Rogers forward pass made it first down in Ohio territory. A screened pass made 13 and another first down. Westfall hit three times and the ball was on the 17-yard line with another first down chalked up. At this point Evashevski stepped into the scoring column, taking Harmon's perfect pass for an easy score. That was all for the first half.
Twelve plays were needed to carry the ball another 77 yards and a touchdown to open the third quarter. Westfall and Harmon did all the heavy duty ball-toting until the ball rested on the Ohio 16-yard mark. Then Ed Frutig was called on to catch a Harmon pass in the end zone. He obeyed orders and the score was 26-0--rapidly getting much larger than the astounded spectators had dreamed of. But the boys in blue jerseys had decided by this time that they were having a glorious time, so they kept right on going.
MICHIGAN'S STOCKY FULLBACK
GOES HIGH IN THE AIR TO
INTERCEPT OHIO PASS
Bob Westfall (86) breaks up Ohio attack in
third quarter by snagging a Scott forward
intended for Newlin (72) as Kromer (83)
swings around to stop Newlin should he have
A 52-yard march to a touchdown produced the next tally. Once more Westfall started the fireworks, intercepting a Scott pass just on the Ohio side of midfield. He and Harmon rolled back the Buckeyes and then Tom tossed to Frutig to put the ball on the 18-yard mark. From that point Harmon charged around end, galloping behind five Wolverine executioners and watching them mow down the opposition before he lunged over the goal line.
It looked for a while as though that were the end of scoring. According to the press men up on top of the stands it was enough to put Harmon out ahead of the record of total touchdowns made by the great Grange. But evidently his teammates wanted Tom to make just one more. Ohio grabbed a Michigan pass just when it appeared the Wolverines were underway, but Evashevski came right back and grabbed one of Scott's heaves; and so the march started 52 yards up the field, just inside Michigan territory. Harmon's toss to his Captain netted a first down. Call and Krejsa, in for Kromer and Westfall, would have made a first down but an offside penalty spoiled things. So Fraumann took a Harmon pass to negotiate the distance, and Call followed suit to take the ball to the 7-vard line. There was less than a minute left to play, but that was enough. Harmon went over on a plunging charge through the Ohio line-and everyone of the discomfited but sincerely admiring Ohio players grabbed his hand in congratulation. They must have known that Crisler was going to take Torn out of the game, for that is exactly what happened. That thoughtful act of the Coach gave the crowd an opportunity to give Harmon a thundering ovation, something that would not have been personal at all had Tom staved for the full 60 minutes.
Just one more interesting item for the gridiron history books happened in the final seconds of the game. Little Davey Nelson, just about the, tiniest man on the Michigan team, kicked off for the Wolverines-and the ball sailed into the end zone. And Davey strutted as he moved to the locker room a moment later when the game ended.