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Flashback: November 25th, 1911, Lehigh 11, Lafayette 0

It would be past the days of George B. Walbridge and Charles "Babe" Reinhart, but the shadow of the talent level of those Walter Camp All-Americans for Lafayette would help continue Lafayette's dominance over Lehigh in the early 1900s.

"Lehigh, that time honored rival of Lafayette, to-day mourns over the remains of colors trampled in the mud and marred beyond recognition by eleven Maroon and White warriors," told the Lafayette student paper after their 11-0 shutout of Lehigh.

From the span of 1896 (the only year Lehigh didn't play Reinhart's Lafayette team, due to an eligibility dispute) to 1911, the Maroon and White would put a serious hurt on the Brown and White, winning 16 contests to 5.

Lafayette in 1911 was still considered one of the top teams in all of college football at that time.

In an era where Princeton, Yale, and the Carlisle Indian School all competed for the top, Lafayette was right there with the top teams in the nation.

Going into the 45th meeting with their "ancient" rivals Lehigh, Lafayette had only three teams score against them all season.

One of those teams happened to be the Carlisle Indian School, headlined by none other than the legendary Jim Thorpe himself, who played running back, defensive back, placekicker, and punter.

The mighty Powell and the mightier Thorpe composed a battering ram that could pierce the defense almost at will.  Time after time Thorpe would take the ball and charge at the opposing barrier with herculean effort, dragging with him two or three tacklers as so many playthings; his ground-gaining was invariable.

The other nationally prominent team Lafayette played was Penn, who walloped the Maroon and White 23-6 the following Saturday - and could have eliminated Lafayette from a paper championship.  (Like FBS today, champions back then were determined by polls.  Back then, it was the New York Times that determined the best team in the nation, based on their writers' opinions.)

In contrast, Lehigh's team entered the contest 5-3-1.  But that tie, against the team that would win the paper championship in 1911, Princeton, was a great source of pride for the Brown and White.
The game was played on a field that was a sea of mud and water, rendering the work extremely difficult.

Princeton had looked for a cinch.  Her easy victories of 37 to 0 over Rutgers and Stevens, and her 31 to 0 triumph over Villanova seemed to have made her indifferent to the abilites of other teams.  But Lehigh refused to cringe before the Tiger.  Her men were made of sterner stuff.
Less well known, however, was the fact that four key players on Lehigh's 1911 team transferred from another strong football school at the time, Wesleyan, including a future Brown & White hall-of-fame quarterback, QB Pat Pazzetti.

"The Pennsylvania college is pulling strongly for a record-breaking footbal team this year - hoping to put one on their old rival, Lafayatte - and is doing all in its power to get the athletes in the institution," the Lafayette student newspaper reported.
 
Lafayette, the national powers, versus Lehigh, their arch-rivals with the Boys from Connecticut, made for quite a game, even by Rivalry standards.

"From early morn until the time of the game," the Brown and White reported, "train after train brought Lehigh and Lafayette adherents by the thousands.  As the time passed, the crowds increased in volume.  Vast streams of humanity poured into the field at all entrances."

"It was the largest crowd that has ever assembled on Lehigh field," Lafayette's school paper added, noting that 10,000 fans came to Lehigh field to watch the struggle.  The cheering sections swayed and rocked as fortune favored one side or the other."

Lafayette brought a school band to perform, while Lehigh's cheering section included the Bethlehem Steel Works band, showing the local flavor.  At halftime, they "marched around the field and formed an "L" in the center of the gridiron," the Brown and White reported.

"It was the annual Lehigh-Lafayette football game," the Brown and White added, "an event made classic by years of honorable fighting.  Both teams excpected to win.  Compared man to man, it is doubtful if two teams were more evenly matched.  But the God of Luck was with Lafayette."

Lafayette's student paper was a bit more to the point.  "That aurora borealis of enthusiasm which sprung up overnight vanished in ninety-five minutes," they reported.  "All this constituted the pride in which fell to defeat on Lehigh Field last Saturday afternoon."

Lehigh's effort, led on the field by QB Pat Pazzetti, was mentioned by both papers.  "The little quarter-back was ever on the alert.  His punts were always for good distance and he usually ran back Kelly's punts for 20 yards or more."

After a scoreless half, it would be a 60 yard run by RB Sandy Marshall that would set up Lafayette at Lehigh's 5 yard line, where they would score - and Lafayette would score on the very next play on a fumble, where Kelly the punter would end up with the ball - and return the miscue for a touchdown.

It was a game for the ages - and one that seemed to kick "The Rivalry" into a new gear that it's kept ever since.

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