The biggest football blowout of all time

photo via Wikipedia

photo via Wikipedia

On Oct. 7, 1916, the Georgia Tech football team clobbered Cumberland College by an unbelievable score of 222-0, the biggest blowout in American sports history.


The story kicks off in Cumberland’s previous football season. The coach disliked violence and refused to allow contact during practices. This led to a 0-12 season and caused the entire team to quit. To add insult to injury, the team lost funding because of their horrendous record and had to rely on excess funding from the baseball team to keep their program alive.


However, Cumberland’s baseball program was also losing money, and was unable to attract promising recruits. Instead, they hired minor league players to compete against Georgia Tech, a powerhouse across all sports at the time.


The strategy inevitably worked, as the Cumberland baseball team defeated Georgia Tech that year 22-0. This slaughter angered the great John Heisman, Georgia Tech’s baseball and football coach.


In his fury, Heisman demanded that Cumberland play Georgia Tech in the upcoming football season, even though Cumberland did not have a team. He threatened a large fine if Cumberland refused.  


Cumberland had no choice but to play, and convinced a group of law students who never played football to join the team. They did not stand a chance against Heisman’s lineup, which was out for blood.


Cumberland’s quarterback sustained an injury in the first play and was carted off the field with a concussion three separate times. After the first quarter, Georgia Tech led 63-0. At halftime, they were up 126-0.


Begging for mercy, Cumberland’s head coach asked Heisman to cut the game short, but he refused. Instead, he told his team to “hit ‘em clean, but hit ‘em hard!”


The obliteration continued through the second half. Author Ken Mink, in his novel “222-0: The Story Behind America’s Zaniest College Football Game,” chronicled the unbelievable events.


At one point, a wild dog ran onto the field and chased around the Cumberland running back. 


Cumberland ran a defensive play in the fourth quarter called “the human pyramid,” where the players made a pyramid by climbing on top of each other. The player on top successfully blocked a field goal, but the football struck him in the face, resulting in several cosmetic surgeries.


Mink claimed that, when two Cumberland players broke their legs, the coach tied their broken legs together, allowing them to compete like contestants in a three-legged race. Although this one detail may not be true, it highlights the insanity of the game’s events.


By the end of the game, Cumberland players were hiding behind the bleachers, terrified of the opposition. All of this led to the 222-0 final score, a complete statistical blowout.


Cumberland did not complete a single first down and committed 15 turnovers. They totaled -28 yards in the game, fumbled the ball nine times and threw six interceptions without completing a single pass.


Meanwhile, Georgia Tech scored 32 touchdowns without throwing any passes, rushing for 522 yards. During one significant stretch, they ran 39 straight plays inside Cumberland’s 20 yard line.


Cumberland’s crushing defeat culminated in one of the most bizarre stories in sports history;  a blowout of such massive proportions may never be seen again.