1939, UCLA vs Oregon State

Jackie Robinson Playing Football For UCLA
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UCLA right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON (# 28), the “highly-heralded” transfer from Pasadena Junior College just returning to action after sitting out the Bruins’ last two games on account of injury, looks for running room while Oregon State Beavers first team right tackle WALT JELSMA (# 56) chases the play down from the backside during the riveting Pacific Coast Conference affair at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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November 25, 1939
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Attendance : 40,000

(# 13 – AP) UCLA BRUINS vs OREGON STATE BEAVERS

UCLA starting line-up
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LE – # 27 … Woody STRODE …………… LH – # 13 … Kenny WASHINGTON
LT – # 15 … Del LYMAN ………………….. FB – # 5 ….. Bill OVERLIN
LG – # 11 … Jack SOMMERS ……………. QB – # 55 … Ned MATTHEWS
OC – # 6 ….. Martin MATHESON ……… RH – # 25 … Dale GILMORE
RG – # 12 … John FRAWLEY
RT – # 24 … Mladen ZARUBICA
RE – # 38 … Don MACPHERSON

substitutions (incomplete)
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FB – Leo CANTOR (# 5)
RH – Jackie ROBINSON (# 28)

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(click to enlarge) … it is interesting to note the game program arranges the starting backfields for the two sides in a diamond-shaped formation even though the actual Single Wing alignments used by the UCLA and Oregon State looked nothing like that — it should also be noted that both the Bruins and the Beavers normally operated with an unbalanced line.
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UCLA BRUINS 13 – OREGON STATE BEAVERS 13

Game Statistics
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net total yardage ………………………… UCLA 293, Ore St 256
first downs …………………………………. UCLA 15, Ore St 15
net rushing yards ………………………… UCLA 208, Ore St 241
net passing yards ………………………… UCLA 85, Ore St 30
passes completed / attempted ……… UCLA 7/16, Ore St 3/7
passes intercepted by ………………….. UCLA 1, Ore St 1
fumbles recovered by ………………….. UCLA 2, Ore St 2
punting average …………………………… UCLA 36.1, Ore St 37.0
kick & punt return yards ……………… UCLA 126, Ore St 67
penalty yardage lost …………………….. UCLA 35, Ore St 5

scoring plays
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2nd qtr : BRUINS 7-0
Ned MATTHEWS 12 yard pass from Kenny WASHINGTON (John FRAWLEY kick)
2nd qtr : BEAVERS 7-7
Jim KISSELBURGH 17 yard run (Len YOUNCE kick)
3rd qtr : BEAVERS 13-7
Jim KISSELBURGH 1 yard run (kick failed)
4th qtr : BRUINS 13-13
Leo CANTOR 5 yard run (kick failed)

(game statistics as reported by Eugene Register-Guard on November 26, 1939)

It is interesting to note that the sports editors at The Pittsburgh Press must have been impressed by the efforts of the UCLA Bruins’ All-America candidate at left halfback because the Eastern newspaper’s headline read, “UCLANS – OREGON (STATE) TIE ; WASHINGTON’S PLAY STANDS OUT IN COAST CLASH”.

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UCLA BRUINS vs OREGON STATE BEAVERS
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A length-of-the-field drive in the final minutes of this see-saw football game officially preserved the Rose Bowl hopes of one team while formally ending the very same aspirations of the other as the # 13 ranked UCLA BRUINS battled to a 13-13 tie with the visiting OREGON STATE BEAVERS in a heart-stopping Pacific Coast Conference affair.

UCLA, who had not lost to Oregon State in the four games played between the two schools at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1930, went to the lead early in the second quarter after going on a 91-yard march. The key play was the 31-yard run by right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON, the Olympic-caliber track star who was just returning to action after sitting out the Bruins’ last two contests with a knee injury. The hosts capped off this impressive offensive drive when UCLA quarterback NED MATTHEWS caught a pass from left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON in the flat and promptly knifed his way between a pair of Oregon State defenders on a 12-yard scoring play.

It was the third straight year in which the Bruins strong-armed left halfback Washington had thrown for a touchdown going up against the Beavers defense, certainly a noteworthy accomplishment considering that a) Single Wing football in the pre-World War II era was typically run-dominated as well as low scoring and b) Oregon State had some decent teams who all finished .500 or better from 1937 thru 1939.

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(United Press photo – Eugene Register-Guard, November 27, 1939) ………. UCLA quarterback NED MATTHEWS (# 55) catches a pass in the flat from unseen Bruins left halfback Kenny Washington shortly before knifing between the Oregon State Beavers defensive pair, right end LEW HAMMERS (# 32) and fullback / linebacker KEN “ROWDY” DOW (# 45), to score a second quarter touchdown during the Pacific Coast Conference affair witnessed by 40,000 spectators at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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Later in the second quarter, the Bruins were again moving the football on their opponents’ side of the the field but then Oregon State guard LEN YOUNCE recovered a UCLA fumble at the Beavers 36-yard line and the tide turned instantly. Fullback JIM KISSELBURGH barged ahead for a first down at the UCLA 48-yard line and right halfback MORRIS KOHLER raced around left end on a reverse for 31 yards. Immediately thereafter, Kisselburgh blasted up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown run and a successful extra point attempt by Younce quickly knotted the score at seven apiece.

Midway through the third quarter, the Beavers got busy again after taking possession of the football at the UCLA 49-yard line. Kohler added another 31 yards to his total having “slashed off two dazzling runs”, the second of which, a 13-yard gain, left the ball at the Bruins one-yard line. Kisselburgh then bulled his way into the end zone to notch his sixth touchdown of the season and give Oregon State a 13-7 lead in the process but a missed extra point attempt did leave the door wide open for the home side, so to speak.

The visitors had a massive opportunity to break the game wide open after starting another drive at the UCLA 35-yard line late in the third quarter, as well, but a costly fumble was recovered by the Bruins’ touchdown-maker, Matthews, on his own two-yard line.

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Oregon State fullback JIM KISSELBURGH (# 49), the well-regarded junior who was the First Team All-Pacific Coast selection of both the Associated Press and United Press in 1939, scored one touchdown rushing during the Beavers’ decisive 39-6 of the University of Hawaii in the first-ever Pineapple Bowl played in Honolulu on New Year’s Day in 1940 … (Note – the Pineapple Bowl was previously known as the Poi Bowl from 1936 until 1939; UCLA beat Hawaii 32-7 in the last-ever Poi Bowl).
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Oregon State maintained the upper hand for most of the final period, too — that is until UCLA took the ball on its own 18-yard line with a little less than five minutes to play and began a nine-play sequence. Washington passed to Bruins left end WOODY STRODE for 18 yards and then “Kingfish” promptly connected with UCLA right end DON MACPHERSON to advance the pigskin a further 20 yards downfield. Second-string fullback LEO CANTOR went up the middle on a “line buck” and was limited to a short gain but, before being ruled officially down, the Bruins sophomore was able lateral the football to the speedy right halfback Robinson, who finished off a 26-yard gain by sprinting to the Beavers 21-yard line.

From there, the dynamic Washington dropped back to pass again but found no suitable receivers available so UCLA’s star left halfback simply tucked the ball under his armpit and ripped off another 15 yards against a clearly tiring Oregon State. The Beavers front wall held firm for two plays but, on third down & goal to go, the 200-pound Cantor again carried the pigskin up the middle on a five-yard touchdown jaunt with only about a minute left on the clock. The Bruins could have won this exciting Pacific Coast Conference clash with a successful extra point attempt in the closing stages but UCLA guard JOHN FRAWLEY, the senior co-captain by way of Montana, failed to negotiate his kick in between the uprights.

Rather than settle for a draw that could damage their Rose Bowl chances, the Westwood school tried an onsides kick that Oregon State were able to field easily and return to the Bruins 49-yard line. Within short order, however, the Beavers fumbled the ball away and so UCLA had time for one more snap on its own 36-yard line. After again dropping back to pass but finding no receivers open, Washington took off on a twisting run that was ended by Oregon State tacklers at midfield as the final gun sounded.

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In the photo on the right below the scoreline, rock-solid UCLA guard JACK SOMMERS (# 11) and another unidentified player halt the forward progress of an Oregon State ball carrier as Bruins fullback BILL OVERLIN (# 5) and center MARTIN MATHESON (# 6) arrive on the scene to assist during the back and forth Pacific Coast Conference game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum … the two UCLA players in the background of the same photo from the Westwood school’s “Southern Campus” yearbook are left tackle DEL LYMAN (# 15) and left end WOODY STRODE (# 27).
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Attendance according to newspaper references
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50,000 ….. The Spokesman Review ………. 11/26/39
50,000 ….. Ogden Standard-Examiner …… 11/26/39
40,000 ….. Eugene Register-Guard ……….. 11/26/39
40,000 ….. The Pittsburgh Press …………… 11/26/39

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Beavers & Bruins Both Have Reason To Erase Bad Memories

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UCLA Bruins left halfback IZZY CANTOR (# 2), the unlucky senior who would later be directly involved in the most pivotal play of this entire Pacific Coast Conference encounter, makes a valiant attempt but cannot stop his counterpart, Oregon State Beavers left halfback HAROLD HIGGINS (# 39), from diving head first into the end zone for an early first quarter touchdown at the almost empty Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 1938.
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There was certainly far more at stake than merely the right to remain in the Rose Bowl hunt as the visiting OREGON STATE BEAVERS (7-1-0) prepared to knock shoulder pads with the UCLA BRUINS (5-0-2), currently rated the nation’s 13th-best college football team by the Associated Press, in the high profile Pacific Coast Conference match-up to be played in southern California on the final weekend of November in 1939.

Now, even if Oregon State managed to score more points than UCLA Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time in nearly a decade, the Beavers would still be long shots to be appear at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. This because head coach LON STINER’s club had earlier in the season already succumbed to the powerful USC Trojans at home in Corvallis. So, after being heavily outgained by UCLA in the previous year’s contest, it was a lot more about restoring gridiron self esteem from the proud Oregon State Beavers’ perspective.

The UCLA Bruins, on the other hand, had just cause to feel a little bit hard done by the final result with Oregon State in 1938, as confirmed by the United Press in their post-game report (Milwaukee Journal, 11/11/38) :

“REFEREE ‘GOAT’ AS UCLANS TIE – OFFICIAL BLOCKS HALFBACK’S PATH TO GOAL IN CLEAR FIELD; GAME ENDS, 6-6″

Los Angeles (UP) — Referee Tom Fitzpatrick of Utah took his place Saturday beside John Getchell as a “helper” during the 1938 (NCAA) football season. Getchell called the wrong down in the Notre Dame – Carnegie Tech game and the Irish thereupon scored the winning touchdown. Fitzpatrick “tackled” a UCLA ball carrier bound for the goal and Oregon State got away with a 6-6 tie.

Halfback IZZY CANTOR took the ball on his own 10 (yard-line) on a lateral pass. As he emerged from a knot of tacklers on his own 45 (yard-line), with a clear field to the goal, the referee collided with (Cantor) and he went down. The ball became dead where (Cantor) fell.

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It is, of course, impossible to state with 100% certainty that Izzy Cantor would not have eventually been caught from behind by an Oregon State player before actually crossing the goal line on that particular play. Then again, it cannot be stated accurately that the UCLA senior, whose younger brother Leo was a star fullback on the Bruins freshman football team in 1938, would not have been able to score a touchdown in his last-ever collegiate game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The only incontrovertible fact is that this development was a good bit of luck for the visiting Beavers but an extremely bad break on this historical occasion for the hosts, who happened to be appearing at the iconic Olympic stadium under the direction of long-time Bruins head coach BILL SPAULDING for the final time.

There is no question that UCLA dominated this game with Oregon State in terms of moving the football. The Bruins piled up a massive 23-3 advantage in first downs made and also enjoyed a wide lead in total yards from scrimmage — some newspapers report that Spaulding’s side outgained the Beavers 388-114 while other accounts set the numbers at 377-74. But Oregon State scored an early touchdown soon after left halfback HAROLD HIGGINS returned the opening kickoff 84 yards to the Bruins six-yard stripe and UCLA never did manage more than a fourth quarter equalizer when left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON, a First Team All-Pacific Coast selection of the Associated Press in 1938, threw a short touchdown pass to substitute right end JIM MITCHELL.

Truth be told, the UCLA Bruins had a very late opportunity to score the winning points but were unable to capitalize. A successful passing play from Bruins right halfback HAL HIRSHON to left end WOODY STRODE brought the pigskin down to the Oregon State five-yard line with exactly ten seconds remaining. A penalty for delay of game would push the ball back out to the 10-yard line and, after yet another pass from Hirshon was not completed, UCLA guard JOHN FRAWLEY was wide on a field goal attempt.

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UCLA’s SOUTHERN CAMPUS yearbook graciously makes no mention of either the official’s embarrassing collision or the failed field goal attempt that concluded the 1938 contest with visiting Oregon State. The top photo on the left shows Beavers senior left halfback HAROLD HIGGINS (# 39) breaking into the open field on his 84-yard kickoff return with UCLA Bruins senior left halfback IZZY CANTOR (# 2) chasing the play in the background. This same picture also reveals a great many empty seats at the cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — several comtemporary newspaper reports in 1938 cited an attendance figure of “less than 10,000″ while a very recent edition of Oregon State’s official annual media guide gives a figure of only 7,500 spectators for the Beavers football game with UCLA that year.
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UCLA BRUINS vs OREGON STATE BEAVERS all-time results
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1938 … at Los Angeles …… UCLA 6 – Oregon State 6
1937 … at Corvallis ……….. UCLA 7 – Oregon State 7
1936 … at Los Angeles …… UCLA 22 – Oregon State 13
1935 … at Los Angeles …… UCLA 20 – Oregon State 7
1934 … at Los Angeles …… UCLA 25 – Oregon State 7
1930 … at Los Angeles……. Oregon State 19 – UCLA 0

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Oregon State Beavers – By 1939’s Numbers

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Oregon State Beavers right halfback DON DURDAN (# 39), the undersized sophomore who, as a senior, would be voted Most Valuable Player of the 1942 Rose Bowl Game, appears to have crossed the Washington Huskies goal line but was ruled to have been stopped short during the Pacific Coast Conference tussle at Husky Stadium in Seattle on October 21, 1939.
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’39 OREGON STATE Offense : yards per game
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vs Stanford ……………….. 190 rush ……. 71 pass ……. 261 total …… 12 points
vs Idaho ……………………. 237 rush ……. 49 pass …… 286 total …….. 7 points
vs Portland ……………………………………….. unavailable ………………. 14 points
vs Washington …………… 172 rush ………. 7 pass …… 179 total …… 13 points
vs Washington State ….. 237 rush …….. 56 pass …… 293 total …… 13 points
vs USC ………………………… 37 rush ……. 80 pass …… 117 total …….. 7 points
vs Oregon ………………….. 183 rush ……. 34 pass …… 217 total …… 19 points
vs California ………………. 180 rush ……. 80 pass …… 260 total ….. 21 points
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average ……….. rush = 177.0 … pass = 53.9 … total = 230.9 … points = 13.25

(Note — Oregon State’s average points per game does reflect all eight contests but the figures for rushing & passing do not include the Beavers’ non-conference game against the Portland Pilots)

Oregon State Touchdowns Scored (15)
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FB – Kisselburgh 4, QB – G. Peters 2, LHB – Dethman 2, LHB – Olson 2, FB – Dow 2, RHB – M. Kohler 1, RHB – Durdan 1, LHB – V. Kohler 1

Oregon State Extra Points Scored (11)
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G – Younce 10, RE – Hammers 1 (pass rec)

Oregon State Field Goals Made (1)
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G – Younce 1

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oregon-state-younce-53Oregon State guard LEN YOUNCE (# 53) was a two-time consensus All-Pacific Coast selection before graduating to a rather successful (albeit oft interrupted) professional career in the National Football League with the New York Giants.

Younce served as New York’s regular placekicker for only one season (his final one, in 1948) but converted 36 of 37 extra point attempts despite making just 1 of 7 field goal attempts for the Giants that year.

’39 OREGON STATE Defense : yards per game
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vs Stanford ………………… 115 rush …….. 23 pass …… 138 total ……. 0 points
vs Idaho ………………………. 27 rush …….. 13 pass ……. 40 total ……. 6 points
vs Portland ………………………………………… unavailable ……………… 12 points
vs Washington ……………. 117 rush …… 159 pass …… 276 total ……. 7 points
vs Washington State …….. 59 rush …….. 51 pass …… 110 total ……. 0 points
vs USC ……………………….. 137 rush …… 167 pass ….. 304 total ….. 19 points
vs Oregon …………………….. 62 rush ….. 200 pass …… 262 total ….. 14 points
vs California ………………… 44 rush …… 120 pass …… 164 total ……. 0 points
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average …………. rush = 80.1 … pass = 104.7 … total = 184.8 … points = 7.25

(Note — Oregon State’s points per game conceded does reflect all eight contests but the figures for rushing & passing do not include the Beavers’ non-conference game with the Portland Pilots)

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On The ’39 Oregon State Beavers

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Oregon State fullback JIM KISSELBAUGH (# 49), who was named Third Team All-America by the Associated Press as a senior in 1940 and is credited with having scored 15 rushing touchdowns in his collegiate career, threw two of the three passes that resulted in touchdown plays for the Beavers during the entire 1938 and 1939 NCAA seasons, combined.
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The OREGON STATE BEAVERS outfit that arrived at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in late November of 1939 to boot the ole’ pigskin around with the UCLA BRUINS (ranked # 13 in the nation according to the latest Associated Press national poll) was a rather competent college football team, to be certain.

In the week leading up to the vital Pacific Coast Conference tilt featuring host UCLA and visiting Oregon State, the previously # 19-ranked Beavers had actually fallen out of the AP Top Twenty despite having beaten the slumping California Golden Bears 21-0 on November 18, 1939, to improve their season slate to an impressive seven wins against just one defeat. Head coach ALONZO STINER’s club had climbed as high as # 11 on the weekly AP chart in 1939 before suffering a most catastrophic 19-7 loss at home to the mighty USC Trojans at the start of November. Nevertheless, Oregon State still had an outside shot at the lucrative and prestigious Rose Bowl invitation, but, in order to book their place in Pasadena, the Beavers would first have to register a triumph over the Bruins in Los Angeles and then later hope for favorable results from USC’s final two Pacific Coast Conference games (against UCLA and the University of Washington) in early December.

UCLA’s own Rose Bowl ambitions were alive and well as Oregon State came calling in late November of 1939 but the bottom line for the Bruins was the fact that, dating back to the previous campaign, the formidable Beavers were currently sporting the impressive record of twelve wins against just two losses from their last fifteen NCAA contests.

Now, Oregon State had lost six of its eleven first team players — both ends, an All-Pacific Coast guard, the center, the quarterback (read, chief blocking back) and the always-influential left halfback — from the squad that posted the overall record of five wins against three losses with one tie in 1938. Before the new season started, the head coach Stiner stated that he thought the 1939 edition Beavers would be ‘good’ but, perhaps, ‘great’ might be just a bit beyond this particular team’s reach. What Stiner could not have known in advance was that his group of sophomores on the Oregon State varsity that year were, indeed, destined to play in the 1942 Rose Bowl Game.

oregon-state-scultzStiner did have a solid cast of upperclassmen returning to the Oregon State squad, including standout guard EBERLE SCHULTZ (# 48), a beefy (6’4″ 222 lbs) senior who was to become a Second Team All-America selection of both the New York Sun newspaper and the well-respected Paul Williamson as well as a Third Team All-America selection of both the Associated Press as well as the Central Press Association in 1939. Known to be particular effective at opening holes on the offensive side of the ball, the consensus First Team All-Pacific Coast pick was the 29th overall player taken at the 1940 National Football League Draft when snapped up in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Left tackle JOHN HACKENBRUCK, a reliable 210-pound senior whose professional playing rights would be reserved by the Detroit Lions in the 17th round (# 165 overall) of the 1940 NFL Draft, was another experienced starter back to help the overwhelmingly run-oriented Beavers at the point of attack.

Two returning linemen who had earned their first varsity letters in a reserve role as sophomores in 1938 would ascend to first team status and be recognized as all-league players before their respective college careers had concluded. Right guard LEN YOUNCE, a 200-pounder who proved to be better than average at kicking extra points, would be named Second Team All-Pacific Coast by both the Associated Press and United Press as a junior in 1939 before honored as a First Team All-Pacific Coast choice by both major news organizations as a senior in 1940. Younce was eventually tabbed by the New York Giants in the eighth round (# 67 overall) of the 1941 NFL Draft.

Tackle VIC SEARS (6’3 210) took slightly longer to emerge as a starter for the Oregon State Beavers but, as a senior in 1940, ultimately developed a First Team All-America selection, according the New York Sun. Originally taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round (# 33 overall) of the 1941 NFL Draft, the native of Eugene (home, of course, of the arch-rival Oregon Ducks) spent a dozen years as property of the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL career that was interrupted by military service during World War II. Both Younce (another WWII veteran) and Sears, who celebrated National Football League titles with the Eagles in both 1948 and 1949, were later named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-1940s Team in conjunction with the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Season in 1969.

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Oregon State right halfback MORRIS KOHLER registered the only touchdown of his senior season by scoring on a 44-yard scamper in the third quarter of the Beavers’ 13-7 win over the Washington Huskies in October of 1939.
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Returning to spearhead the Oregon State offense was triple-threat fullback JIM KISSELBURGH, who had been honored as Second Team All-Pacific Coast by the Associated Press as a sophomore in 1938. The 185-pound native of Hollywood, California, who pounded out both touchdowns in the Beavers’ 14-0 victory over the Oregon Ducks during his initial varsity campaign, had also established himself as one of the conference’s best punters while being a demon at linebacker on defense, as well. A three-time First or Second Team All-Pacific Coast selection in his collegiate career, the well-rounded Kisselburgh would be snapped up by the Cleveland Rams in the sixth round (# 44 overall) of the 1941 NFL Draft.

The Beavers, who were just as likely to have the fullback field the direct snap as they were the left halfback in the multiple variations of the traditional Single Wing formation they were typically wont to use, had a quality backup for Kisselbaugh in fellow junior KENNETH “ROWDY” DOW. The 195-pound bruiser from Montana led the way by rushing for 83 yards (5.9 avg) and a touchdown during Oregon State’s 13-0 victory over Washington State in late October and contributed 46 yards (5.1 avg) and another six points on the ground during the Beavers’ 21-0 whitewash of the California Golden Bears. Dow’s abilities were confirmed when the Washington Redskins took the Oregon State second-string fullback in the 16th round (# 150 overall) of the 1941 NFL Draft.

MORRIS KOHLER, the 170-pound senior from Sutton, Nebraska, who would be taken by the Cleveland Rams in the 16th round (# 145 overall) of the 1940 NFL Draft, was the only other returning starter in the backfield as Oregon State prepared to kick off its 1939 NCAA campaign. It was Morris Kohler who paced the Beavers on consecutive Saturdays by gaining 58 yards (5.3 avg) during the 19-14 win over the intra-state arch-rival University of Oregon and then 70 yards (5.8 avg) during the big victory over the visiting University of California in the two games leading up to Oregon State’s clash with the still unbeaten UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles. Kohler’s twin brother, Vic, was among a slew of hopefuls vying for playing time spot at left halfback — it had been an interception and subsequent 70 yard touchdown return by VIC KOHLER that had propelled the Beavers to a 6-0 triumph over Stanford University in 1938.

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(Associated Press photo – The Spokesman-Review, October 22, 1939) …….. Oregon State left halfback BOB OLSON (# 82) clutches the pigskin tight as he hammers across the University of Washington goal line to score a touchdown from two yards out during the second quarter of the Pacific Coast Conference encounter at Husky Stadium in Seattle on October 21, 1939.
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GEORGE PETERS, a 190-pound sophomore from Ventura, California, took over the first team job at quarterback (read, blocking back) and scored Oregon State’s very first touchdown of the 1939 NCAA season on a pass reception from the fullback Kisselburgh during the Beavers’ 12-0 victory over the Stanford Indians at the end of September; Peters was fated to be picked in the eighth round (# 66 overall) of the 1942 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.

BOB OLSON surprisingly “stole the whole show” during Oregon State’s spring practice sessions in 1939 and, thus, had the inside track at left halfback. It was the homegrown junior from Medford who tossed a pass to the quarterback Peters for a touchdown that provided the Beavers with an early lead during the annual “Civil War” battle with the eternal enemy, the Oregon Ducks, that year. The tall but lanky Olson later broke that very same contest open in spectacular fashion by lugging the second half kickoff back 93 yards for a touchdown.

Aside from Vic Kohler, Oregon State also had yet another productive left halfback in BOB DETHMAN. It was the 185-pound homegrown sophomore from Hood River who tallied the first two touchdowns of his varsity career during the Beavers’ surprisingly close 14-12 win over the University of Portland in the middle of October. Dethman, who later went on to throw two pivotal third quarter touchdown passes against Duke University in the 1942 Rose Bowl Game, was destined to become the 20th overall player selected at the 1942 NFL Draft after being tabbed by the Detroit Lions in the third round.

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1939, UCLA vs Santa Clara

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UCLA Bruins left halfback DALE GILMORE (# 25), the senior co-captain who had made the critical fourth quarter interception and then caught the decisive touchdown pass that had defeated the Washington Huskies six weeks earlier, is chased by Santa Clara Broncos senior quarterback RAY MCCARTHY (# 44) during the NCAA regional non-conference match-up at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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November 18, 1939
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Attendance: 50,000

(# 11 – AP) UCLA BRUINS vs (# 14 – AP) SANTA CLARA BRONCOS

UCLA starting line-up
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LE – # 27 … Woody STRODE …………… LH – # 13 … Kenny WASHINGTON
LT – # 15 … Del LYMAN ………………….. FB – # 5 ….. Bill OVERLIN
LG – # 11 … Jack SOMMERS ……………. QB – # 55 … Ned MATTHEWS
OC – # 6 ….. Martin MATHESON ……… RH – # 25 … Dale GILMORE
RG – # 12 … John FRAWLEY
RT – # 24 … Mladen ZARUBICA
RE – # 38 … Don MACPHERSON

substitutions
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E – Jim MITCHELL (# 41), Bob SIMPSON (# 44)
T – Ernest HILL (# 10), Jack COHEN (# 14)
C – Milt WHITEBROOK (# 52)
FB – Leo CANTOR (# 2)
RH – Chuck FENENBOCK (# 45), Ray BARTLETT (# 9)

According to the detailed post-game report that appeared in the Berkeley Daily Gazette (Monday, November 20, 1939), Santa Clara Broncos veteran head coach BUCK SHAW sent on twice as many substitutes (16-8) as did BABE HORRELL, his rookie counterpart for the UCLA Bruins (8), who were still minus the services of injured right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON.

UCLA star left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON played the entire 60-minute game against Santa Clara, it shall be highlighted.

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UCLA BRUINS 0 – SANTA CLARA BRONCOS 0

Game Statistics
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plays from scrimmage (incl. punts) ……. UCLA 69, SC 64
net total yardage ………………………………. UCLA 206, SC 201
first downs ……………………………………….. UCLA 12, SC 11
net rushing yards ……………………………… UCLA 138, SC 142
net passing yards ……………………………… UCLA 68, SC 59
passes completed / attempted …………… UCLA 8/17, SC 3/16
passes intercepted by ……………………….. UCLA 1, SC 4
fumbles recovered by ……………………….. UCLA 1, SC 0
missed field goal attempts …………………. UCLA 1, SC 0
punts – punting average ……………………. UCLA 7 – 36.9, SC 8 – 35.9
punt returns – yards gained ……………….. UCLA 4-46, SC 2-28
kickoff returns – yards gained ……………. UCLA 1-14, SC 1-18
penalty yardage lost …………………………… UCLA 50, SC 25

scoring plays
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none

UCLA individual net rushing statistics
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FB – Leo CANTOR …………………… 14 carries …. 64 yards
LH – Kenny WASHINGTON ……. 21 carries ….. 63 yards
FB – Bill OVERLIN ……………………. 4 carries ….. 19 yards
RH – Dale GILMORE …………………. 2 carries ……. 0 yards
RH – Chuck FENENBOCK …………. 4 carries …. – 8 yards

(game statistics as reported by Berkeley Daily Gazette on November 20, 1939)

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“(UCLA left halfback Kenny) Washington was not only a standout in running and passing but his defensive work was big league in every way. He made some of the sharpest tackles of the day and his speed that enabled him to overcome Anahu, after Bill had caught Clark’s pass in the clear, denied Santa Clara a touchdown.” … Buddy Leitch – San Jose Evening News on Monday, November 20, 1939.

It is interesting to note that Santa Clara deployed three different left halfbacks (Jim Johnson, Dick Clark & Ken Casanega) who combined to carry the football from scrimmage versus the UCLA defense 18 times for a net gain of 65 yards.

On 18 of Washington’s carries against Santa Clara, the Bruins’ All-America candidate gained a net total of 81 yards. But the UCLA star was also tackled behind the line of scrimmage while attempting to pass by the Broncos three times for a net total loss of 18 yards, as well. Still to this very day, yardage lost on “sacks” is counted as part of any college football quarterback’s rushing total — this is in direct contrast to how things are done at the professional level in the National Football League.

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UCLA BRUINS vs SANTA CLARA BRONCOS
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“U.C.L.A., in the running for Rose Bowl selection, and Santa Clara University, so-called ‘king’ of the (west) coast independents, battled to a bitterly-fought 0-0 tie,” wrote United Press Staff Correspondent RONALD W. WAGONER in his nationally-syndicated post-game report.

Despite the lack of points on this day, it certainly was not as if either the Broncos or Bruins had failed to move the football over the course of the sixty minutes played. Indeed, Santa Clara and UCLA had combined to generate more than 400 yards of total offense while making numerous forays into legitimate scoring territory. Fittingly, well after the referee’s final gun went off a ball carrier even continued to run along in the open field for quite some time until finally being brought down to formally conclude the event-filled contest.

It was the visitors who had the most promising opportunity to snap the scoreless deadlock in the first half after Santa Clara sophomore guard RUPE THORNTON intercepted a UCLA lateral pass in midfield with only 40 seconds remaining. On the very next play, the Broncos’ All-America hopeful at right end, BILL ANAHU, caught a pass from second team left halfback DICK CLARK in open space and might have had a receiving touchdown for the third consecutive weekend in a row to his credit were it not for the last-ditch tackle made by Bruins safety KENNY WASHINGTON at the UCLA 9-yard line. Much to the delight of the home crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, however, three straight rushing plays gained just four yards and, on fourth down, another Broncos toss fell harmlessly incomplete.

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ucla-39-santa-clara-newspaperSanta Clara Broncos left halfback JIM JOHNSON (# 9), who carried the ball from scrimmage just three times for 16 yards during the scoreless duel of nationally-ranked teams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, is knocked off his feet by the UCLA Bruins defense.

Santa Clara’s leading rusher in the compelling tussle with UCLA was first team fullback JACK ROCHE, the relentless senior who carved out 36 net yards after lugging the pigskin on 14 occasions (2.57 average yards per attempt).
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Santa Clara, who had come into the contest ranked three places lower than UCLA in the weekly national college football poll put out by the Associated Press, also had another great chance to score in the third quarter. JOHNNY SCHIECHL, the Broncos’ All-America candidate widely hailed as the best center on the entire left coast, halted a Bruins drive by making his second interception of the day at the Santa Clara 27-yard line. A sizable return of 32 yards by Schiechl quickly set the visitors up in good position on the opponents’ side of the field, as well.

Starting from the UCLA 41-yard line and spurred on by the “fancy” running and passing of third-string left halfback KEN CASANEGA, the talented sophomore who carried the ball nine times for 29 yards on the day, the Broncos worked the ball down to the Bruins 9-yard line. At this point, however, the UCLA defense stiffened as three consecutive rushing plays from the Broncos failed even a single yard. Faced with a fourth & goal from the UCLA 10-yard line, Santa Clara went into field goal formation with the right end Anahu set to swing his foot.

Santa Clara’s best placekicker, left halfback JIM JOHNSON, had already aggravated a lingering ankle injury from the Michigan State Spartans game the week before and had gone to the bench for good early in the second quarter. Anahu, meanwhile, had successfully converted two extra points during the Broncos’ big 27-7 win over Stanford University but had also hit the crossbar with a third attempt two weeks earlier. Kicking from the opponents’ 18-yard line, “Hawaiian Bill” promptly let UCLA off the hook when his field goal attempt fell short in the end zone.

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(Associated Press photo – Prescott Evening Courier, November 20, 1939) … UCLA Bruins left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (who is most easily recognized via the helmet at the far left) is stopped by Santa Clara all-league linebacker JOHNNY SCHIECHL with the assistance of Broncos right end BILL AHAHU (# 35) as visiting tackle NICK STUBLER watches during the non-conference clash of the two California schools at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the other UCLA player most easily visible in the old photo presented here is right guard JOHN FRAWLEY (# 12), the Bruins’ senior co-captain.
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UCLA, who moved the ball against Santa Clara well enough but consistently shot themselves in the foot by throwing four interceptions, finally mounted its most serious threat by putting a 73-yard drive together with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter. “Huge hunks” of yardage were clipped of by runs from the Bruins left halfback Washington and substitute fullback LEO CANTOR, the promising sophomore who enjoyed his best effort in the UCLA varsity uniform to date (64 yards, 4.6 average per carry). A five-yard burst up the middle from Cantor set the football on the Broncos 5-yard line but the undisciplined Bruins were subsequently penalized 15 yards for holding.

And so, with the final seconds dwindling, UCLA went into field goal formation from the Santa Clara 20-yard line. Now, a 38-yard attempt was a considerable task for even the best of placekickers during the pre-World War II era of Single Wing Football. But, on the other hand, Bruins right guard JACK SOMMERS had already boomed a 40-yard field goal during UCLA’s 16-6 win over the Oregon Ducks (which had been the Bruins first three-pointer since 1936) at the end of October and so it was decided to give the junior from Norristown, Pennsylvania, another shot at it.

Sommers’ line-drive kick was low and wide but the pigskin was retrieved in the end zone by Santa Clara substitute right halfback FRANK PETERSON, who immediately started running the ball back towards the UCLA goal line. Peterson found plenty of room to roam and actually reached midfield before being dragged down at midfield. “It was a typical movie finish and Hollywood’s studios would have thought long and hard to figure out a better ‘suspense-getter’,” remarked Wagoner in his United Press report.

Attendance according to newspaper references
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70,000 …… San Jose Evening News ……… 11/18/39
60,000 …… San Jose Evening News ……… 11/20/39
50,000 …… Eugene Register-Guard ……… 11/19/39
50,000 …… The Sunday Morning Star …… 11/19/39
none ……….. Pittsburgh Press ……………….. 11/19/39
none ……….. Berkeley Daily Gazette ………. 11/20/39

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UCLA Bruins vs Santa Clara Broncos – By 1939’s Numbers

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UCLA left halfback KENNY “Kingfish” WASHINGTON (# 13) had already scored four touchdowns rushing and thrown passes for three more through the Bruins’ first six games on their 1939 NCAA schedule while Santa Clara right end WILLIAM “Hawaiian Bill” ANAHU (# 35) had caught a touchdown pass in each of the Broncos’ last two games this term as the two nationally-ranked California schools prepared to meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on the third week of November that year.
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’39 UCLA Offense : yards per game
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vs T.C.U. ……………….. 154 rush ……… 25 pass ……. 179 total ………. 6 points
vs Washington ……….. 159 rush ……. 100 pass ……. 259 total ……. 14 points
vs Stanford …………….. 127 rush ……… 35 pass ……. 162 total ……. 14 points
vs Montana …………….. 240 rush …….. 80 pass ……. 320 total * … 20 points
vs Oregon ……………….. 177 rush ……… 66 pass ……. 243 total …… 16 points
vs California ……………. 219 rush ……. 133 pass ……. 352 total …… 20 points
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average …………. rush = 179.3 … pass = 87.8 … total = 267.1 … points = 15.0

(* Note — the blog has good reason to believe that UCLA’s correct total yardage figure against the University of Montana should read 316 but remains uncertain of the actual breakdown of the rushing & passing totals; a detailed explanation with respect to this concern will be forthcoming in a future article appearing in conjunction with the 1939 UCLA vs USC game)

UCLA Offensive Touchdowns Scored (12)
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LHB – Washington 4, FB – Overlin 2, RHB – Robinson 2, RHB – Gilmore 1,
FB – Cantor 1, RE – MacPherson 1, LE – Strode 1

UCLA Extra Points Scored (9)
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G – Frawley 6, RHB – Robinson 2, G – Kyzivat 1

UCLA Field Goals Made (1)
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G – Sommers 1

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Although often used as a decoy in the Bruins’ new “Man-In-Motion” offensive scheme installed by UCLA’s first-year head coach Babe Horrell, the explosive JACKIE ROBINSON (# 28) excelled at right halfback during his first season at the elite NCAA level. The transfer from Pasadena Junior College had already produced his fair share of big plays in each of the Bruins’ first five games of the 1939 NCAA campaign but was suddenly injured during a practice session prior to the Pacific Coast Conference game against the California Golden Bears. Thus, the Santa Clara Broncos caught a bit of a break and would not have to deal with the speedy UCLA Bruin who was destined to lead the entire nation that year in both average yards per punt return as well as average yards per rushing play.
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’39 SANTA CLARA Offense : yards per game
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vs Utah …………………… 141 rush ……. 102 pass …… 243 total ……… 7 points
vs Texas A&M ………….. 74 rush ……… 26 pass …… 100 total ……… 3 points
vs San Francisco ……… 154 rush ……… 37 pass …… 191 total …….. 13 points
vs St. Mary’s …………… 163 rush ………. 89 pass …… 252 total ……… 7 points
vs Purdue ……………….. 159 rush ……… 44 pass …… 203 total ……. 13 points
vs Stanford ……………… 225 rush ……. 128 pass …… 353 total ……. 27 points
vs Michigan State ……………………………. unavailable ……………………. 6 points
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average …………. rush = 152.6 … pass = 71.0 … total = 233.6 … points = 10.9

(Note — Santa Clara’s average points scored per game includes all seven contests but the figures for rushing & passing yards reflect the Broncos’ first six games only)

Santa Clara Offensive Touchdowns Scored (10)
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FB – Roche 4, RE – Anahu 2, LE – Sanders 1, LE – Lacey 1, RHB – Peterson 1, LHB – Casanega 1

Santa Clara Extra Points Scored (7)
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LHB – Johnson 4, RE – Anahu 2, T – Stubler 1

Santa Clara Field Goals Made (1)
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LHB – Johnson 1

Note — Santa Clara’s defense also added an important touchdown against the Stanford Indians when substitute tackle BILL BRAUN, the sophomore whose professional playing rights would ultimately be reserved by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 18th round (# 163 overall) of the 1942 National Football League Draft, returned an interception 40 yards to give the Broncos what proved to be an insurmountable 21-7 advantage.

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Santa Clara Broncos left halfback JIM JOHNSON (# 9), seen as the second-best player at his position on the Pacific Coast in 1939 by no less of an authority than the Associated Press, attempts to sweep around right end against the St. Mary’s College of California Gaels during the late October clash of regional rivals witnessed by the crowd of 50,000 spectators at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Johnson, the junior who was eventually tabbed by the mighty Chicago Bears in the 13th round (# 119 overall) of the 1941 NFL Draft, missed virtually the entire game against the Michigan State Spartans after going down injured on just the second play from scrimmage but recovered in time to face the UCLA Bruins one week later. At far right in the above photo is Santa Clara Broncos guard RUPE THORNTON (# 26), the sturdy sophomore from Portland, Oregon, who was honored as a Second Team All-Pacific Coast selection by the Associated Press in both 1940 and 1941 before ultimately being chosen by the Chicago Cardinals in the seventh round (# 54 overall) of the 1942 NFL Draft.
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’39 UCLA Defense : yards per game
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vs T.C.U. ……………….. 152 rush …….. 107 pass …… 259 total ……… 0 points *
vs Washington …………… 0 rush ………. 48 pass …….. 48 total ……… 7 points
vs Stanford …………….. 189 rush ………. 37 pass …… 226 total ……. 14 points
vs Montana ………………. 63 rush ……. 122 pass ……. 185 total ……… 6 points
vs Oregon ……………….. 222 rush ……… 79 pass ……. 301 total ……… 6 points
vs California …………….. 94 rush ………. 65 pass ……. 159 total ……… 7 points
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average …………… rush = 120.0 … pass = 76.3 … total = 196.3 … points = 6.7 *

The UCLA defense intercepted 10 forward passes and recovered nine of their opponents’ fumbles for a total of 19 turnovers created through the first six games on the Bruins’ 1939 NCAA schedule. Quarterback NED MATTHEWS, the homegrown junior from Los Angeles who operated as a modern day cornerback in the Bruins’ 6-2-2-1 defensive formation typical of the Single Wing Era, made a critical interception in the fourth quarter of UCLA’s opener against Texas Christian University and also picked off passes against the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks, respectively. Right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON, the Bruins’ other regular first team defensive cornerback who would sit the Santa Clara Broncos game out injured, also snatched an enemy aerial in the contest with the University of Oregon and returned another interception 51 yards to directly pave the way UCLA’s equalizing points in the early-season Pacific Coast Conference encounter with the Stanford Indians, as well.

* Note — the two points registered by T.C.U. during the Horned Frogs’ 6-2 season-opening loss to the UCLA Bruins were, of course, scored on a safety that was conceded by the UCLA offense (and not by the the Bruins defense).

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A quartet of UCLA defenders including right end JIM MITCHELL (# 41), fullback LEO CANTOR (# 2) and quarterback JOE VIGER (# 32) surround the ball carrier during the Bruins’ 20-7 thumping of the visiting California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 4, 1939.
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’39 SANTA CLARA Defense : yards per game
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vs Utah ……………………. 166 rush ……… 45 pass …… 211 total ……… 7 points
vs Texas A&M …………. 126 rush ……… 62 pass …… 188 total ……… 7 points
vs San Francisco ………… 65 rush ……… 12 pass …….. 77 total ……. 13 points
vs St. Mary’s ……………… 73 rush ……… 17 pass …….. 90 total ……… 0 points
vs Purdue ………………… 139 rush ……… 87 pass …… 226 total ……… 6 points
vs Stanford ………………… 11 rush ……. 172 pass …… 183 total ……… 7 points
vs Michigan State …………………………….. unavailable ………………….. 0 points
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average ……………. rush = 96.7 … pass = 65.8 … total = 162.5 … points = 5.7

(Note — Santa Clara’s average for points conceded per game includes all seven contests but the figures for rushing & passing yards reflects the Broncos’ first six games only)

“Among close students of football (Broncos head coach) BUCK SHAW is rated a master of defensive formations,” it was stated in the United Press article, “BRUINS WILL TEST BRONCOS DEFENSES”, that was published in the Berkeley Daily Gazette on November 14, 1939 … “During his four years at Santa Clara, he has stalemated the offenses of some of the greatest teams in the nation by setting up defenses which the opponents found impossible to penetrate.”

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Broncos Over Bruins By Ten, Boldly Predicts Berkeley Daily Gazette

DAN MCGUIRE, writing in his column, “FROM THE BEARS’ DEN”, that regularly appeared in the BERKELEY DAILY GAZETTE back in the day, boldly predicted on November 14, 1939, that :

“The eyes of a nation will be focused on the Santa Clara – UCLA game Saturday at Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum. The Bruins have their first chance at a Rose Bowl bid since 1935 and the Broncos, after a disastrous start, have whipped St. Mary’s, Purdue, Stanford and Michigan State in a row.

Having watched both clubs, we think a few remarks on their individual strengths and weaknesses are in order. In the first place, the best back on the Coast this fall is (UCLA Bruins left halfback) KENNY WASHINGTON, as the (University of California Golden) Bears will testify. Santa Clara has JIMMY JOHNSON, who is a triple-threat of great abilities but the Bronc must take a back seat the the terror of the (Pacific Coast) conference.

However, Washington will have a terrible time with the Santa Clara defense while Johnson will find that the Bruin line is weaker than forward walls of Purdue and Michigan State. The Broncos have a big, fast line and (center JOHNNY) SCHIECHL and (right end BILL) ANAHU are All-Americans in any book.

(UCLA fullback BILL) OVERLIN is a fair kicker but Johnson will outkick him. The Bruins fooled California with quick-kicks, something they won’t do against the boys from the Mission school. In fact, Washington (the lone safety in the Bruins’ typical 6-2-2-1 defensive formation) will have to play far back (from the line of scrimmage) in order to keep the Broncs from fooling him with a long punt.

We took in a Santa Clara practice last week. At that time, it didn’t take an expert to see that Broncs would have a letdown against Michigan State. They seemed to be fooling around and having a lot of fun instead of taking football seriously. BABE HORRELL’s (UCLA Bruins) team will be just unlucky enough to catch them when they’re at a psychological peak.

Washington won’t get far with (Santa Clara head coach) BUCK SHAW plotting his downfall. Shifting defense, butterfly defenses, sliding defenses — all will be used to stop Kenny … Give us the Broncos by ten points.”

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