OSU 20 - - UM 7
Columbus, Oct. 17, 1931

Michigan Alumnus Magazine, 1931

Ohio Defeats Sluggish Varsity

Michigan always has possessed the reputation of putting on the gridiron smart, aggressive football teams. The eleven which opposed Ohio State at the stadium on the afternoon of October 17 was everything but that. The result, 20-7, and in favor of Ohio.

No attempt should be made to deprive the victors of credit for their triumph. Every Ohio man played heads-up, fighting football, taking advantage of the numerous opportunities presented to them by the sluggish Wolverines. If ever an Ohio State team deserved to trounce their traditional rivals, the Willaman-coached eleven of 1931 was the one, and six thousand Ohio rooters poured exuberantly out of the Michigan stadium when it was all over.

It's hard to diagnose this Michigan team. It has talent; it has power; its veterans have been through many a battle in which pure fighting spirit was all that carried them to victory; its youngsters are far above the average of recruits; it is coached by an all-Michigan staff, men schooled in the Yost system and tempered by the Michigan tradition; it was riding on the crest of nearly a two-year-old record of success- on October 24 it would have been two years since the Michigan colors were furled in defeat. But against Ohio all this was forgotten. The team blundered time after time; fumbles came just at the most inopportune time; infractions of the rules resulted in penalties which were tremendously advantageous to the enemy; it was terrible.

No less than four times, in spite of all this, the Varsity had excellent chances to score; opportunities which any other Michigan team would have cashed in nine cases out of ten. And each time the 1931 eleven failed. Poor selection of plays, plus faulty execution of those tried, bungled the touchdown drives.

In this game Ohio gained less ground than it did one year ago, when it went down in defeat. But last year the Wolverines were not doling out scoring openings to the enemy and were taking advantage of the Ohio slips. Not so on October 17, 1931.

No one who saw this game will ever forget the sorry spectacle of the Michigan team at the close of the third period. As the officials were moving the ball to its new location for the beginning of play in the final period, blue-clad players plodded sluggishly in their wake, heads downcast, leaderless, pepless, beaten. If one or two of that team still was inspired by a fighting determination to go somewhere, his spirit was immediately dulled by the lethargy of his fellows.

And the battle wasn't over at that point either, not by a long way. For immediately thereafter, with recruits rushed in, the Varsity started its most brilliant drive of the afternoon, an onslaught which carried the ball almost the entire length of the field; a slashing, brilliant attack which was halted -- as the others had been -- by poor play at the enemy's goal line.

It should be remarked right here that no one, not even the most rabid Michigan rooter, was more chagrined and disconsolate over the whole affair than Captain Hudson, himself, and the members of his team. In this lies the hope for a reversal of form in coming games; this and the probability of several changes in personnel, changes which the coaches seemed determined to make as they planned for the Illinois campaign.

Just about three players should be exonerated of the general charge of sluggishness. Hewitt, Williamson and Auer stood out from their fellows, with Fay showing flashes of real battling now and then.

Williamson, unassisted, made Michigan's only score. A fairly good punt from Tessmer's toe put the ball out of bounds on the Ohio 20-yard line. Auer and Hewitt stopped the succeeding enemy attack and Cramer dropped back to punt. Williamson charged in at top speed, blocked the kick cleanly and carried through to pick up the ball and fall over the goal line for a touchdown. Goldsmith kicked the goal from placement.

Williamson's end, the object of many an Ohio onslaught, was well guarded all the way through. To be sure, one of the O.S.U. touchdowns was made through his territory, but on that play he was unassisted and four white-clad blockers were able to devote their entire attention to him. Where Morrison, Fay and Newman were located on this play no one seems to know. Everhardus came charging over from far away on his side of the defense zone, but he could not reach the point of attack in time to cut down the runner.

Hewitt played a hard game, though it was his eagerness to get across the scrimmage line that caused several costly penalties for offside; and it was this habit of handing Ohio gift yards at crucial times which spelled disaster. Auger continued his good work of the Chicago game, not only stopping the majority of the plays aimed at his position but doing a little bit more than his share of the blocking. He was continuously messing up the Ohio secondary defense, though his activities didn't mean much in view of the inability of the Varsity ball carriers to get that far.

Fay showed flashes of power in carrying the ball and now and then awoke from the lethargy which marked the backfield attack, to block out Ohio tacklers.

Michigan made the breaks which made possible Ohio scores. Right at the beginning of the battle came the first one. Jack Heston fumbled the opening kick-off and Ohio recovered. Jack brought back that kick-off with a lightning fast run. He tried to hurdle the first Ohio tackler but was thrown into a skyrocketing somersault, coming down with a crash that jarred the ball from his hands. A stonewall defense blocked the O.S.U. charge following that fumble. Five attacks -- Michigan started off its offside tactics right here, giving up five previous yards -- failed to net a first down. But before long Jack Heston again fumbled and this time Ohio capitalized the break with a touchdown.

Williamson tied the score with his great play and it looked as if the Varsity might conquer. But there was no punch in the attack and loose play, plus errors, cut off scoring opportunities. Toward the close of the first half a forward pass from Hewitt to DeBaker netted 30 yards and put the ball on the Ohio 17-yard line. Two plays were badly bungled and were followed by a fumble which Bell of Ohio recovered on his own 39-yard line. A perfect scoring opening had been wasted. Just at the end Ohio, in turn, fumbled and Cantrill recovered, but before Michigan could get into action the half had ended. That was typical -- the Michigan errors were turned to Ohio advantage but Ohio's errors were not costly.

Just about the most costly mistake of all led directly to the second Ohio score. With the ball in its own territory Ohio found it impossible to gain and punted. Tessmer caught the ball and sprinted back deep into the enemy's bailiwick. But it all went for naught, as a Michigan lineman was offside on the play. That penalty enabled Ohio to make a first down and from that point on, aided by another penalty, the march to the touchdown was steady.

The final Ohio score was the result of a brilliant return of a punt by Cramer. Grabbing the ball on the dead run on the Michigan 44-yard line, this brilliant runner picked his holes behind perfect interference and raced over the goal line. The Ohio blockers seemed to have little difficulty on this play in turning aside the Varsity tacklers, though one of them was knocked unconscious in the process of spilling his particular Michigan opponent.

Right after this touchdown Kipke sent in a flock of substitutes and for the first time in the game a dashing attack was launched. A pass from Hewitt to Fay netted 30 yards. Jack Heston took a pass from Newman for another 20 yards and immediately thereafter Hewitt hauled in a Newman toss to put the ball on the five-yard line. Nothing but bungling could have stopped this touchdown, but Michigan errors seemed to be the order of the day and both an end run by Fay and an attempted forward pass went wrong and Ohio took the ball on a touchback.

The story of the game would not be complete without praise for the stellar running of Cramer and Carroll of Ohio and the defensive play of the Ohio line and also its secondary defense. No more brilliant display of returning has been seen than that of Cramer. To be sure the Michigan punters were helping him in every way possible by sending every single kick straight into his arms. Cramer caught many of the balls on the dead run, capitalizing on this advantage by adding to it a slashing, dodging, twisting type of ball-carrying that made the Varsity tacklers look foolish. Carroll was a demon on slashing through the Michigan line, making ground even when hitting the usually impregnable Morrison.

Approximately 60,000 saw this game, the biggest crowd to watch a football battle on that day. The Ohio Band and the Michigan Band staged a picturesque show both before the game and between the halves.

More than $20,000 was taken in at the sixteen stadium ticket booths in the hour before the game, the largest gate sale ever recorded at the Michigan stadium.

Starting Line-ups
Michigan Ohio


Scores by quarters:

Touchdowns -- Carroll 2, Williamson, Cramer. Goals after touchdown -- Haubrich, Goldsmith, Peppe

Officials -- Referee, Frank Birch, Earlham; Umpire, John Schommer, Chicago; Field Judge, Fred Young, Illinois Wesleyan; Head Linesman, Arlie Mucks, Wisconsin