In 1915, Cumberland College (Lebanon, Tennessee) embarrassed the Georgia Tech baseball team in a 22-0 route.
Georgia Tech coach, John Heisman (yes, that Heisman), vowed revenge and he got it a year later on Oct. 7, 1916 when the Georgia Tech football team, which he also coached, humiliated Cumberland, 222-0, in the most lopsided game in college football history.
In that era, the Cumberland football team played teams like Mississippi, Tulane, South Carolina, Louisiana State and Tennessee. Cumberland discontinued football before the 1916 season, but forgot to tell Georgia Tech.
Heisman insisted that the game go on. If it did not, he said, he would hold Cumberland to a forfeit fee of $3,000, a large sum then.
Schedules were arranged by student managers then so the burden fell upon Cumberland’s student manager, George Allen, later an adviser to United States presidents. He rounded up 13 students, many of them fraternity brothers, to go to Atlanta and play.
When the game began, Georgia Tech scored on its first play. Cumberland fumbled on the next play, and Tech returned it for a touchdown. Cumberland fumbled again on its first play, and Tech scored two plays later. This scoring pattern continued throughout the entire game.
After one quarter, Tech led 63-0. At halftime, the score was 126-0. In a 1998 Georgia Tech alumni publication, Frank Burns, the Cumberland historian, quoted from Heisman’s halftime pep talk:
“We’re ahead, but you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men.”
There was no surprise. As The Atlanta Journal wrote, “As a general rule, the only thing necessary for a touchdown was to give a Tech back the ball and holler, ‘Here he comes’ and ‘There he goes.’ ”
Heisman finally showed mercy, agreeing to cut the second half to 15 minutes, but it mattered little. The game ended with no first downs for either team. Georgia Tech scored every time on its first, second or third play. Cumberland’s only play of note was a 10-yard pass, little help since it came on fourth-and-22.
Rushing: Georgia Tech 978 yards/ Cumberland -42.
Passing: Georgia Tech 0 for 0/Cumberland two for 18 for 14 yards and six interceptions.
Turnovers: Georgia Tech 0/Cumberland 15.