Wednesday Duckstory: The 1917 Tournament of Roses


Welcome to the first installment of the Oregon football bowl game history lesson.  Oregon’s football program played their first game in 1894 and it was 23 years later, in 1917 under head coach Hugo F. Bezdek, when the team took the field in their first bowl game.  The game was the Tournament East-West Football game (a.k.a. Rose Bowl).  The 1916/1917 season began with a victory over Willamette in Oregon and ended with seven wins and one tie.

The coveted Tournament of Roses was played on January 1st 1917 at Tournament Park in Pasadena, CA.  It was the 3rd Rose Bowl and that year 27,000 people came out to watch the Oregon Ducks versus the Penn Quakers.  The Ducks featured the Huntington brothers, Charles (Shy) and Hollis.  Shy Huntington played quarterback and safety for Oregon while his brother Hollis played fullback and both were crucial to Oregon’s 14 – 0 victory against Penn.  This victory was also a milestone for west coast football; Penn was heavily favored going in and their defeat demonstrated that the west coast teams could hold their own against the dominating east coast teams.

First Quarter:

Neither team scored, or threatened to score in the first half of the game.

Second Quarter:

Mid-way through the second quarter it looked as if the Penn Quakers would be the first to put points on the board.  The Quakers took the ball all the way to the 3 yard line after recovering their own blocked kick, but ultimately Oregon’s Bricks Mitchell stopped the Quaker offense with a 10 yard loss, forcing a failed 29-yard field goal.  This major defensive stop by the Ducks proved to be the game-changer they needed.  Both teams ended the 1st half with zero points on the board.

Third Quarter:

Late in the third quarter Shy Huntington really started to shine.  S. Huntington’s first interception (as safety) of the game resulted in the Duck’s first scoring drive.  The drive ended with S. Huntington’s 18 yard touchdown pass to R.L. Tegert and an extra point kick by S. Huntington.  As the Ducks scored the 3rd quarter ended, Oregon up 7 – 0.

Fourth Quarter:

Oregon finished it up in the 4th quarter, again showcasing Shy Huntington.  Their second scoring drive began with an interception from S. Huntington, followed by a 45 yard run by Johnny Parsons and ending with S. Huntington sprinting into the end-zone for an Oregon score.  S. Huntington scored the extra point again for Oregon putting the Ducks up 14 – 0.  Just to spoil any thought of a late-game rally by Penn, S. Huntington picked off a third pass during the Quaker’s final drive.

Oregon team captain, senior John Beckett, was retroactively selected Player of the Game in 1953, the year the award was created.  Shy Huntington went on to become Oregon’s head coach the following year for six seasons until 1923.  He coached Oregon in their next bowl appearance, the Rose Bowl in 1919, which will be the topic of next week’s history lesson.

1917 Rose Bowl Team Stats