November 2010

PC vs. Davidson

Program from a 1950 PC-Davidson game

Program from a 1950 PC-Davidson game

Since PC will be playing Davidson this November for the first time in many years, we thought it might be fun to go back and look at what was once a very close rivalry.

The first football game between PC and Davidson was played in Davidson on Nov. 21, 1919. Although the game might seem to be less than thrilling, since it ended in a 0-0 tie, Coach Walter Johnson noted that PC outplayed Davidson, and had the ball on Davidson’s 3 yard line when the game ended. The Davidsonian agreed that “The Wildcats were fortunate indeed to emerge from the fracas with the result a scoreless tie. The Palmetto team threatened to score on other occasions, and the only thing that saved Davidson was the opportune breaks in the game…Not once in the whole game did Davidson demonstrate a flash of football.”

Since neither team had very good facilities during the early years (PC actually played its games on an old cotton field), three of the early games were played in at the Winthrop field in Rock Hill, and one in Asheville. Playing in Rock Hill had its definite advantages in the form of 1800 Winthrop co-eds on the sidelines to cheer the teams on. The rivalry continued until 1926, when an unfortunate incident apparently occurred between two players. According to several accounts, the game was poorly officiated, and tensions mounted. According to the Clinton Chronicle, PC’s “Spoon” Witherspoon “had a difficulty with the referee, who wished to eject him from the game on the grounds that he was fighting with a Davidson player. Witherspoon claimed that he had been struck, but had done nothing in return. Because the referee remained stubborn, “Spoon” and Hartsell studied the laws of the transfer of energy, which was from Witherspoon’s right paw to Hartsell’s right jaw. The incident was regrettable, but the referee was undoubtedly blind in several of his decisions, which practically excluded all chances for a Blue Stocking score.” PC ultimately lost the game 3-0.

Soon thereafter, PC’s president, John McSween, began contacting officials at Davidson in an attempt to re-establish the matchup. In a letter to Davidson president Walter Lingle, McSween, himself a Davidson graduate, stated that he understood the reason that athletic contests between the schools had been suspended, and expressed his “very great regret over the attitude of some of our players.” He also expressed the opinion, however, that “our institutions have a natural relationship and that we owe it to the youth to show that Christian colleges can compete in a spirit that is Christian.” Dr. Lingle replied that while he knew very little about the incident himself, he had “spoken to a few of the older and wiser heads around the place, and they are rather doubtful as to whether the time has arrived for renewing the athletic relationships.” Play was not to resume until 1949.

PC vs. Davidson in 1949, when the rivalry resumed

PC vs. Davidson in 1949, when the rivalry resumed

From that time on, the teams played almost yearly until 1967. The 1951 game featured the most consecutive passes completed by a PC quarterback, 9 by Jack Harper. The 1953 game also went into the record books for PC, with a total of 20 passes thrown by the Blue Hose. There was a brief rematch in 1987 and 1988, and since then the two teams have not met on the field.