Thursday, June 30, 2016

74. The Thrill of Victory

I was a lowly sophomore in October of 1946 playing in my fourth Gettysburg High School varsity football game, and the team was scheduled to  meet Hanover on their field.  Hanover, a team we had not beaten in ten years, was undefeated that season, and they were clearly favored.  

Given the odds against us, over 4,000 fans were undoubtedly surprised when the fourth quarter began and neither team had scored. Then, with six minutes left, our fullback big Joe Hess plowed through right guard for the first score of the game.

Back in the Forties football coaches were not enthusiastic about passing, and that was certainly true in our game with Hanover that night when we only passed the ball four times, three for completions. Fortunately, I was on the receiving end for at least one pass, and it was good for the extra point, and we took the lead 7-0.

The drama was not over. With two minutes to play, Hanover also scored a touchdown, but missed the place kick for the extra point. Underrated Gettysburg High School won the game 7-6.

Imagine our surprise when the team bus returned to Gettysburg, and we were greeted by hundreds of fans including Nancy. Escorted by those enthusiastic fans and the high school band, the team paraded from our school to Baltimore Street and then up to the square where the celebration continued.

I played high school and college football for seven years and was part of many good teams, but no win was as sweet as the victory over Hanover that chilly October night in 1946 when I was just fifteen.

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