Friday, September 26, 2008

193-0!!



It’s the most famous score in D-B sports lore: 193-0, the final score of Dobyns-Bennett’s 1926 win over the Norton football team. How did D-B do it, score a touchdown every 60 seconds?

I’ve wondered about that for years, literally. The first time I remember hearing about the score was in 1964 in driving class from Coach Cecil Puckett, who wasn’t even born when the game was played. But he knew about it.

I’ve read the game stories from the old newspapers.

And anytime I met someone who was a student at D-B back in that era I would ask. The late Holiday Smith, who was a sophomore that year, told me he didn’t go to that game. The late Lawson Reams, who was a D-B cheerleader in the mid-twenties, told me about a 1925 game against Tennessee High that D-B won 100-0. He said the cheerleaders were rooting for Kingsport to miss the last extra point so the final score would be an even hundred. They did. But he didn’t know any details from the Norton game.

Finally I have a first hand account from a Norton player. And it comes from Arthur “Pedie” Poston of Wise. Pedie wasn’t the player. But he interviewed the player.

Like me, Pedie had always been curious about the game. “My father was Art Poston who played on the 1921, 1922 and 1923 Kingsport Central High teams. He came to Norton from Kingsport during the Depression and owned gasoline stations in Norton, Appalachia and Big Stone Gap.”

Pedie says many people in Norton thought his dad was on the D-B team that crushed Norton in 1926. “Dad graduated from Kingsport Central in 1924 so of course he wasn’t on that team.”

But the outrageous score, 193-0, always intrigued Pedie. “I wondered how such a score could have been amassed so I asked a Norton player in that game about it. His name was John Harman who at the time of his sharing of his version owned Harman Electric Co. in Norton and was a fellow member with me in the Norton Lions Club.”

Pedie says when he asked Harman about the game, “He threw back his head and laughed.

‘Pedie, back in those days, football was played under different rules.’”

Norton’s football program was in its second year and Pedie says Harman told him that Dobyns Bennett had a very good team.

But that wasn’t the only reason the score was so one-sided. Pedie says Harman told him, “’In those days the team who had been scored on had the option of either receiving or kicking off to the team that had scored. We had been receiving D-B’s kick-off in the first half and the score was about 50-0 in their favor [actually 64-0 at the half] so after the half they scored again and we realized we could probably never score on them so each time they scored we, Norton, elected to kick off to them again and just race them to the goal line. Naturally the score mounted to an astonishing figure. Had we elected to receive the final score might have been closer to 100-0.’”

In the first paragraph I wondered how D-B could score a touchdown every 60 seconds? After reading the game story, I know the answer to that question. They couldn’t. but they did score a touchdown every three minutes. High schools apparently played longer games in the twenties. According to the box score the quarters in that game ran fifteen minutes (first quarter), twelve minutes (second quarter), fifteen minutes (third quarter) and twelve minutes (fourth quarter).

D-B’s leading scorer wasn’t its most famous player, Bobby Dodd. Dodd, who played quarterback, scored five touchdowns. Left halfback Paul Hug scored eight times. Right halfback Fred “Gabby” Merideth had two touchdowns and fullback Jimmy Duncan had three scores. Reserve running back Speedy Clyce tallied four touchdowns. Six other players also scored.

If the name Poston looks familiar, it should. Pedie’s dad Art was a brother to Jim Poston, who owned Poston’s Grocery at the Upper Circle. , Pedie’s uncle Bill Poston owned the Yellow Front Fruit Market and his uncle Howard Poston was an attorney and Sullivan County judge.

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