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November 26, 2013

60th Anniversary of Last Case vs. WRU Thanksgiving Day Football Game

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the last Thanksgiving Day football game between Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University.

Thanksgiving Day 1953 was a cold windy day. The crowd was estimated at 7,500-10,000. The venue was Clarke Field of WRU (currently the lot 53 garage and all the space from Adelbert Gym to the railroad tracks, but not the space behind Bingham Building which was Van Horn Field).

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Cartoon on front page of Reserve Tribune, 11/24/1953

Case scored first on a pass from quarterback Walt Pavlick to Charles Dykes. Reserve scored 15 seconds later on a kickoff return by Dick Delaney and Gordon McCarter’s conversion. Case scored again after Denny Pardee’s 56 yard run set up Ed Rate’s touchdown and extra point. End of the first quarter: Case 13 Reserve 7

Red Cat Ron Davidoff blocked a punt and it was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Bob Blatchford. McCarter kicked the extra point for Reserve to take the lead. Reserve then had its only sustained drive on the day chewing up 63 yards in 12 plays with Delaney scoring again followed by McCarter’s extra point. End of second quarter: Reserve 21 Case 13

Gene Strathman recovered a Pavlick fumble. Reserve scored again on a pass from Delaney to Roger Bryant. McCarter was good for the extra point. Pardee had to punt for Case and Dick Mann fielded the punt going 75 yards for the score. McCarter kicked the extra point for Reserve’s final point of the season. (McCarter finished the season with 16 points-after-touchdown in 16 tries). End of third quarter: Reserve 35 Case 13

The only score in the fourth quarter was a Pavlick touchdown from the seven. Final: Reserve 35 Case 19.

Reserve finished the season with a 5-3-1 record, the best in a decade. Case finished the season with a 1-7 record.

Less than 2 months later, on 1/8/1954 President Glennan announced that Case would drop football from Case’s intercollegiate sports program. This ended the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. Though Case resumed intercollegiate football in the fall of 1955 and rekindled the rivalry with Reserve, they no longer played on Thanksgiving Day.

After Glennan’s announcement, the Case students staged a mock funeral for football. According to the 1/15/1954 Case Tech, “A flower car, hearse and students assembled at Van Horn Field, proceeded over Adelbert and Euclid to the front entrance and from there to the final resting place across from Tomlinson Hall. With football players as pall bearers, to the strains of a dirge, ‘Mr. Touchdown’ was laid in state and finally to rest. A drum roll sounded and a flight of cadets saluted as the ball was lowered to the grave. All was again silent. A harsh command of the flight officer dismissed the honor guard.”

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Funeral for Case football

You can read accounts of the season and this game in the Reserve 1954 yearbook, Eos, and the Case 1954 yearbook, Differential. Both yearbooks are available as fully-searchable PDF files via Digital Case. We advise downloading the PDF file and then opening it.

Enjoy more stories of the traditional Thanksgiving Day Case-Reserve game from 2010, 2011 and 2012 blog entries.

Posted by hxy2 at November 26, 2013 07:37 PM

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