Stadium Dedicated With 21-0 Victory
Michigan Air Attack Humbles Ohio State Before Monster Crowd
[Story from the Michigan Alumnus Magazine, Oct. 29, 1997]
Under the eyes of a crowd of 85,000 people, which filled every inch of the structure, Michigan dedicated her new Stadium on Saturday, October 22, defeating Ohio by a score of 21-0.
Incidentally, Michigan is now "two up" on Ohio in the matter of stadium dedications!
The essential story of the game is told in a single sentence-a Michigan attack which lashed out decisively but three times in the course of the afternoon, but scored a touchdown on each occasion, and an Ohio attack which was always threatening but could never quite reach its objectives.
As a football spectacle, of course, it wholly surpassed anything in Michigan history. Ann Arbor flung open its gates to a horde of visitors nearly triple the size of its own population-and the new stadium swallowed them by two o'clock in the afternoon. The dedication ceremony itself was simple. Governor Fred W. Green of Michigan and Governor Vic Donahey of Ohio, President C. C. Little of Michigan and President George W. Rightmire of Ohio State, following the massed bands of the two universities and accompanied by members of the Board of Regents and other dignitaries, marched across the field to the flagpole, where the national ensign was raised and the vast throng stood bareheaded during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and "The Yellow and Blue." Then formalities ceased, and the Stadium was turned over to the use for which it was built.
One name will go down through history in the annals of the Dedication Game-that of Louis Gilbert of Kalamazoo, halfback, who scored every one of Michigan's twenty-one points, eighteen of them by touchdowns after catching passes flung to him by, Captain Oosterbaan, three by goals from placement after touchdowns. And yet to say that Gilbert won the game single-handed is to fly very wide of the truth. Gilbert was the spear-point be hind which was a shaft of ten other blue-clad stalwarts, the projectile flung by a machine perfectly designed and trained for its purpose, and well nigh perfect in its operation. Had Gilbert's powers been any less than they are, the three spear-thrusts would have been impossible. But in that case, the machine would probably have made them in another way and with another weapon.
Ohio must have known before the battle start that if they were beaten it would be by Michigan overhead attack. There was little or no question ( this in the minds of any close student of the gam The total yardage likely to be piled up in the s of the afternoon by Michigan's running attack would hardly produce enough scores to win.
much the Ohio coaches and players must have known. This foreknowledge was mainly sound, but it had just the slight element of inaccuracy which spelled an Ohio disaster. The most dreaded arrow in the Michigan quiver was the Gilbert-to-Oosterbaan pass. The shaft that struck the three mortal blows to Ohio hopes was an Oosterbaan-to-Gilbert pass. It was like facing a man with a load( revolver only to be felled by the butt of the weapon The super-formidable passing combination turn out to be a two-edged sword, and the scarlet-an gray team had no buckler against the undreaded second edge.
Trying to write of the exploits of this Michigan air attack makes one wish that he were undertaking a volume on the forward pass and its possibilities rather than merely the account of a single gam There are so many things to be said about Saturday's trio of football masterpieces - even to the who witnessed their execution.
Before describing the first of the weapon's triple blows, we must go back to the very start of the game because during those first minutes the Michigan pass had appeared a doubtful and untrustworthy weapon and the Ohio pass one with a greater hint of deadliness. Michigan had kicked (n'and Ohio, after failing to gain ground, had punted. Gilbert, running from his own 44-yard line, failed to gain. On the next play he threw a long pass which was caught cleanly, not by one of hisOwn men but by Huston of Ohio, standing on the scarlet 32-yard line. And on the very next play this same Huston tossed a pass to his team-mate, which carried the ball to Michigan's 35-yard line.
Here were the first gestures the combatants had made with their respective passing weapons, and the apparent contrast caused the hearts of many Michigan adherents to sink. And, to make the final Michigan success the more dramatic, there came between these first passes and Gilbert's initial touchdown an entire first quarter and part of a second in which the two teams had battled indecisively, but with the Ohio running game carrying a far greater threat. Then came the first stroke.
Michigan had just made a first down on two rushes and a short forward pass from Gilbert to Gembis but on the first play of the next series, Antilles had lost eight yards. Oosterbaan was called from his position at end into the backfield, the two teams being then close to the side-line on the west Side of the field and fort ' v-three yards from the Ohio goal It was reasonably clear that the tall Michigan leader was going to pass, and almost everybody was watching him.
That was a mistake. The thing to have watched was neither Oosterbaan nor Gilbert, but the fashion in which the other nine blue-clad figures either through deception or force, were scattering the Ohio defense and clearing Gilbert's path. Only the designers and executors of the play know precisely how it was done, but when Oosterbaan drew back his arm for the tremendous heave, the speeding Gilbert had already threaded his way through the scattered Ohio secondary defense and was "in-the-clear" to make the catch. He gathered in the ball as cleanly as an outfielder catching an easy fly and sprinted across the last chalk-mark without being tackled.
Even more spectacular was the second score, made at the other end of the field about the middle of the third period. Michigan had the ball thirty-nine yards from Ohio's goal. Two plays gained a bare two yards. On the third down the ball was passed from center to quarterback, and the latter made a short pass to Oosterbaan who had run from his position after the ball was snapped. Again Gilbert had dodged and twisted his way into the open, close to the enemy's goal, and again lie caught the pass cleanly and with apparent ease. This time the last few yards of his path were thornier, and he was brought to his knees but could not be stopped and rolled over the line with the ball in his arms.
The third blow differed in several respects from the other two. The play itself was wholly different, the, final pass was short instead of long, and the ball had been carried into scoring position by a play in which the pass did not figure.
Thanks to Gilbert's beautifully placed punts, Michigan had been, for several minutes in the final quarter ., keeping the play deep in Ohio territory close to the west side of the field. On Ohio's 35-yard line, Puckelwartz lost a yard on the "out of bounds" play. After the ball was moved out into the field, Rich made two yards on a plunge through the line and Gilbert followed this with a seven -yard gain through the Ohio left flank This made it fourth down with about two yards to go.
It was a moment calling for nice discretion on the part of tile field-general. The Ohio goal was so close that a punt was useless. A pass was sure to prove risky through the danger of interception at such short range. The Ohio resistance was so strong that the gaining of two yards through or around the scarlet was dubious. A place kick seemed the logical play, and, to all intents and purposes, it was the one selected.
Gilbert dropped back and cleared the cleats of his kicking shoe while Hoffman knelt before him and plucked the grass from a bit of turf. Bovard snapped the ball to Hoffman still on his knees. Gilbert stepped forward and swung his foot-but the ball was not there. Hoffman had leaped to his feet, twisted to his left, and scrambled seventeen yards through the unbroken right wing of the Ohio line before he was stopped. An old play, used by Michigan time and time again, but useful as ever because its chief virtue lies in perfect execution plus a maximum of deception-a fake kick used at the precise moment when a real kick is the logical and anticipated move.
But this stratagem had left several yards still to be gained, and the. Ohio defense 'was undaunted and vigorous as ever. Two or three slight gains were more than offset by a five-yard penalty for offside play, and again Michigan had come to close to the sideline that a down had to be wasted in the "out of bounds" play to bring the ball nearer the center of the field. Again Gilbert dropped back, but this time there was no suggestion of a place-kick, although the position was even better for it. It looked more like a forward pass or an end run. Howard snapped the ball, not to Gilbert, but to Hoffman, who started running to the right. At the same time, Gilbert cut ahead and to his right and Oosterbaan running from position on the Michigan left wing, sprinted past Hoffman. As the Ohio defense closed in on Hoffman, he passed laterally to Oosterbaan, and the latter, after running a few steps, made a second short lateral pass to Gilbert, who crossed the line at the very corner of the field.
These are the three high spots of a remarkable game. To describe adequately the coordinated effort which made them possible would require a volume, but there are a few details which can not be omitted. Gilbert's punting and running back of punts would stand out had they not been eclipsed by his brilliant runs for scores. His kicks were long, sure, and accurate. They held Ohio at a distance by their length and by their direction, often going out of bounds before they could be returned. Twice lie ran back through a broken field and nearly got loose.
CAPTAIN Oosterbaan gave an exhibition of defensive play at end which was nothing less than a classic. He had to meet a running game which, even in defeat, must still be classed as one of the most formidable in the west. Again and again he stood alone while the Ohio ball-carrier swung down on him in a perfect phalanx of red jerseys, yet always managed not only to keep his feet but either to knife through and tackle the man with the ball or force him out of bounds. At the other flank Nyland-playing in the place of the tragically injured Taylor-held up his end manfully, while Baer was the outstanding performer in the middle-line until forced out by injuries. For the other stars in the Michigan defense, one has only to read the line-up: there were no weak spots.
Thus far this account is all Michigan: Ohio appears only as a baffled but stubborn host in red jerseys. In this there is no justice whatever. Before the game, in spite of its defeat by Northwestern a week earlier, Ohio was reckoned a great team. After the final whistle, Ohio was still a great team. Defensively they held Michigan's running attack to inconsiderable gains, broke up pass after pass, blocked Gilbert's one attempt at a field-goal and made the return of punts difficult for even such an open-field runner as Gilbert.
To say that their offense was a constant menace can give to one who did not see the game only a partial notion of the tension which this ever-present threat created. The best of the red game was its running attack. Ohio had a perfect horde of backs - Eby, Grim, Huston, Marek, Ohsner Hess, Criss, Fouch, and McClure - every one of them dangerous. A year ago after that deathless 17-16 battle at Columbus, the writer used almost extravagant terms in describing the work of Eby in the closing minutes of play. Eby was almost as fast and elusive this year. He did tricks of dodging, twisting, and reversing his field which brought him thunders of applause from a hostile crowd, and he failed to stand out quite as conspicuously because the other red-clad backs were so near to his caliber bed pause Michigan stopped them all before her goalline was reached. And Eby's punting, particularly in the crises, was only a cut below Gilbert's. Seven Ohio passes were completed and many of those which failed, failed only by inches.
Ohio must look back to the day as one of defeat-but with high honor. Any team -which, with a score of 21-0 against it, can rise in the last minutes of play and drive from their own soil to within a few feet of the conqueror's goalline is a great team Ohio did that. Mainly' by passes, they marched from their own 37-yard mark to a spot less than three yards from Michigan's goal. With the goal to reach on fourth down, Ohio elected to pass, but Fouch's desperate toss to McClure was incomplete and the last slim chance of an Ohio score had vanished. It was eloquent of the game Ohio had played that even most of the Michigan adherents 'Would have been glad to see the red-clad team score after that last drive.
No account of the day can be complete without a word of praise for the fashion in which the extraordinary traffic -some, 20,000 visiting cars-was handled by the State police. Long before noon Ann Arbor held so many of the trim figures in dark gray uniforms that it looked like a military occupation. At every busy corner there was one of these men; at super-busy corners there were two. And they did the job. They kept traffic moving, both while the city was filling and later as it emptied, 'so that there were no accidents and no really serious congestion. They performed their duty as efficiently as though they too had been trained by the Michigan coaching staff.