Draft Excerpt: A Wild Finish

The following post originally appeared at I moved it here to consolidate all Dayton Triangles-related content at this site.

The following short excerpt is from my Dayton Triangles book project. It describes a key moment in the prehistory of the Triangles: the second Dayton city independent football championship game between the Saint Mary’s Cadets and the Olt-Superba Oakwoods, played on November 27, 1913. The description of the game is summarized from reporting by Robert Husted of the Dayton Journal. The Dayton Daily News account of the game is apparently lost along with several other pages missing from both the online ProQuest archive and the microfilm archive at the Dayton Public Library. I plan to go through the Dayton Herald and will add any additional information from there in a later draft.

The game was a rematch of the first championship game played between the same two teams on November 16, and won by the Cadets in a 14-9 upset over the defending champion Oakwoods. Some of the first names are omitted; it was common practice in the day for the sports writers to refer to players by last name unless they had brothers playing in the same game (as was often the case with the Sacksteder and Kinderdine brothers, among others).

The excerpt follows:

The return match between the Cadets and Oakwoods proved to be one of the most exciting and controversial football games played in Dayton in many years. The Oakwoods opened the scoring off an early Cadets turnover, fullback Dolan throwing a touchdown pass to Munk. Following the ensuing kickoff, however, it didn’t take Al Mahrt long to get the Cadets’ quick strike pass offense in gear.

Starting from the Cadets’ 25-yard line, Mahrt rushed around end for five yards. On the following play he found a wide-open Zimmerman, who had streaked behind the Oakwoods’ defense. Mahrt delivered the ball forty yards in the air to Zimmerman, who outran the Oakwood defenders the final yards to the goal line, capping off a spectacular 70-yard touchdown play. Clark’s touchdown goal kick (extra point) tied the score at 7. Babe Zimmerman threw a touchdown pass to Billy Zile before the end of the quarter to give the Cadets a 13-7 lead. The extra point was missed.

In the second quarter, Oakwood regrouped and struck back. Captain Herb Allen intercepted Mahrt at the Oakwood 45 and the former champs drove relentlessly downfield by way of the ground game to within a few feet of the Cadet goal line. When the Cadets’ goal line defense stiffened, quarterback Roy Burton threw a touchdown pass to right halfback “Minnie” Black to tie the score. A successful extra point inched the Oakwoods back in front, 14-13. Another Cadet turnover deep in their own territory led to a third Oakwood touchdown, scored on a shortrush by Allen. Following another successful point after, the Oakwoods went to halftime up 21-13.

The third quarter went back and forth until Zimmerman intercepted a pass to stop an Oakwood drive at the Cadets’ 20-yard line. Two Mahrt passes, one to Zimmerman, covered more than 50 yards. The quarter ended with the Cadets driving in Oakwood territory. The Cadets completed their touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter on a Mahrt pass to Dungan, in at left end for Weaver. “Foos” Clark kicked the extra point to bring the Cadets to within a point at 21-20.

With time (and daylight) now waning, a critical kicking error by the Oakwoods turned the game in the Cadets’ favor. The Oakwood offense stalled at their own 20 and they were forced to punt. Munk shanked the punt out of bounds giving the Cadets excellent field position at the Oakwoods’ 40. A short Mahrt run and incompletion left the Cadets in a do-or-die third down. Mahrt then uncorked a pass to Dungan, who ran to the Oakwoods’ 10, setting up first down and goal to go. When Mahrt foundNorb Sacksteder behind the goal line, the touchdown pass put the Cadets back on top 26-21.

Following the play, the Oakwood players protested that Mahrt’s pass had touched end Johnny Devereaux, in at end for Zile, prior to Sacksteder catching it. Under the rules of the day, this would have been an illegal forward pass (illegal touching) and negated the touchdown. After conferring, Referee Castleman from Colgate and Umpire Eckstrom from Dartmouth ruled that only Sacksteder had touched the ball and let the touchdown stand.

Bedlam ensued. Many people from the large crowd that had come to take in the game became excited and rushed onto the field, preventing the Cadets from attempting the extra point. Police tried to clear the crowd from the field so that the game could continue, but were unable to do so. With the teams unable to play on, and darkness falling, Referee Castleman ruled the game over and declared the Cadets to be the winners by a final score of 26-21. The game ended with the crowd still on the field.

Robert Husted, writing for the Dayton Journal, heaped specific praise on Mahrt, Zimmerman, Zile and Dungan for their high level of play in the victory. He also credited halfback Carl Storck for excellent blocking and kick returning. For the defeated Oakwoods, Husted tipped his cap in particular to Black and quarterback Barton.

With the city and southern Ohio championships now secure, the Cadets turned again to basketball for the winter season.

By Bruce Smith

Writer, producer and host of the podcast "Triangles: The Life and Times of an NFL Original Team." Music composer and producer. Dayton, Ohio native.