1939, Washington vs UCLA

With UCLA star halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) chasing the play down in the background, Washington fullback DON JONES (# 22), the would-be NFL draft pick who was destined to lead the Huskies with a paltry 247 net yards rushing (2.6 yards per carry) during his senior campaign, looks to confront a Bruins defender or two for blocking purposes during the see-saw Pacific Coast Conference season-opener for both teams at Husky Stadium on October 7, 1939.

October 7, 1939
Husky Stadium in Seattle
Attendance : 13,000


UCLA starting line-up

LE – # 54 … Chuck CASCALES ………. LH – # 45 … Chuck FENENBOCK
LT – # 10 … Ernest HILL ……………….. FB – # 2 ….. Leo CANTOR
LG – # 35 … Robin WILLIAMS ………. QB – # 16 … Ben KVITKY
OC – # 37 … Ted JONES ………………… RH – # 25 … Dale GILMORE
RG – # 30 … Louis KYZIVAT
RT – # 14 … Jack COHEN
RE – # 41 … Jim MITCHELL

E – Woody STRODE (# 27), Don MACPHERSON (# 38), Bob SIMPSON (# 44)
T – Del LYMAN (# 15), Mladen ZARUBICA (# 24)
G – John FRAWLEY (# 12), Jack SOMMERS (# 11), Joe RUETTGERS (# 43)
C – Martin MATHESON (# 6), Gene ALDER (# 8)
LH – Kenny WASHINGTON (# 13)
FB – Bill OVERLIN (# 5)
QB – Ned MATTHEWS (# 55)
RH – Jackie ROBINSON (# 28)



Game Statistics
net total yards from scrimmage …….. UCLA 259, Wash 48
first downs …………………………………… UCLA 12, Wash 2
net rushing yardage ……………………… UCLA 159, Wash 48
net passing yardage ……………………… UCLA 100, Wash 0
passes completed / attempted ………. UCLA 6/19, Wash 0/8
passes intercepted by …………………… UCLA 2, Wash 3
fumbles receovered by …………………. UCLA 2, Wash 5
punts / average …………………………….. UCLA 7 – 37.0, Wash 11 – 42.7
kick & punt return yards ………………. UCLA 171, Wash 134
penalty yardage lost ……………………… UCLA 15, Wash 15

statistics as reported in the 1940 editon of the University of Washington’s annual yearbook :


scoring plays
1st qtr : HUSKIES 7-0
Ernie STEELE 5 yard run (Don JONES kick)
3rd qtr : BRUINS 7-7
Kenny WASHINGTON 5 yard run (Jackie ROBINSON kick)
4th qtr : BRUINS 14-7
Dale GILMORE 9 yard pass from Kenny WASHINGTON (Louis KYZIVAT kick)

Notes — UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON, who, as a junior, scored both of his team’s touchdowns (one on offense, one on defense) during the Bruins’ historic 13-0 triumph over the Washington Huskies in 1938 (first time the Westwood school had ever defeated its Pacific Coast Conference rival from the upper Northwest), established a new career high with his 142 net yards rushing from 25 attempts (5.68 avg) against the Huskies in Seattle.

Since the NCAA only started keeping formal track of statistics in 1937, this performance from the General Washington constituted a new (if short-lived) UCLA school record … the Kingfish had also set the Bruins’ previous standard after rushing for 137 yards against the Washington State Cougars in early November of 1938.

According to the newspaper report that appeared in the Ellensburg Daily Record (October 9th, 1939), UCLA right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON “averaged 7.50 yards per play and Washington 5.68 as the UCLAns traveled a net 259 yards from passes and scrimmage”.

Washington Huskies sophomore ERNIE STEELE (# 29), the shifty halfback who later earned a distinct and permanent place in Apple Cup lore by returning both a kickoff 89 yards in addition to a punt 83 yards for touchdowns in the same game against the arch-rival Washington State Cougars in 1940, looks for a little running room opposite the UCLA Bruins during the Pacific Coast Conference meeting at Husky Stadium on October 7, 1939.


Despite gaining more than five times as many yards from scrimmage as their hosts in Seattle, the visitors would have to wait until well into the second half of play before a sensational punt return by speedy UCLA right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON combined with a critical fourth quarter interception and subsequent touchdown reception by his understudy, senior co-captain DALE GILMORE, rallied the Bruins to a historic 14-7 victory over the Washington Huskies on the road in Seattle.

Expanding on a strategy that had been tried (albeit only in part) and been successful in the season-opening victory over the defending national champions from Texas Christian University, first-year Bruins head coach BABE HORRELL decided to start the UCLA entire second string in the Pacific Coast Conference opener against the University of Washington. The plan came undone almost immediately when left halfback CHUCK FENENBOCK, a well-regarded reserve who had registered three rushing tochdowns for the Bruins as a sophomore in 1938, fumbled the direct snap from center on his own his own 15-yard line and, after a wild scramble, the grateful Huskies pounced on the loose football at the UCLA four-yard line. Soon enough, Washington sophomore halfback ERNIE STEELE swept over right tackle to score his very first collegiate touchdown and fullback DON JONES kicked the extra point to give the home side a quick 7-0 lead less than three minutes in.

Horrell sent in his normal regulars straightaway and the Bruins first string responded by immediately marching 82 yards downfield until the Huskies had fallen back to their own two-yard line. Prominent plays in the UCLA drive were the 22-yard jaunt from the junior college transfer Robinson and the 36-yard run by star left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON. It was here, though, that the drive stalled after a false start penalty on the Bruins as well as a couple of incomplete passes from the visitor’s field general.

The razzle-dazzle Bruins unveiled two fancy multiple-lateral plays to wow the Huskies’ fans in the second quarter. First, the UCLA left halfback Washington tossed the football laterally to the right halfback Robinson, who advanced about 20 yards before pitching the pigskin back to a teammate and, not until four more UCLA players — including tackle DEL LYMAN and guard JOHN FRAWLEY — had handled the spheroid, were the Bruins stopped on the Huskies 21-yard line following a spectacular 52-yard gain. Yet again, however, the Washington defense answered the alarm bell and proceeded to push their opponents back a dozen yards, well outside of reasonable field goal range for any UCLA kicker on the roster.

Prior to the halftime whistle, the Kingfish tossed a short pass over the middle to UCLA left end WOODY STRODE, who quickly lateraled the ball back to the reserve right halfback Gilmore; before being tackled, the Bruins co-captain, in turn, flipped the back to NED MATTHEWS but this particular rugby-style play ended badly for the visitors when the junior quarterback native to Los Angeles fumbled on the Huskies 40-yard line.

Thanks in large part to yeoman’s work from the UCLA defensive corps, it took until after halftime for the struggling offense of the Washington Huskies to finally generate its initial first down of the game. The hosts also crossed the midfield stripe for the first time all afternoon on the same drive but were stifled when Matthews atoned for his earlier sin by intercepting an ill-advised aerial from unlucky Washington right halfback DEAN MCADAMS and returning it to the Bruins 35-yard line. McAdams, one might remember, was also responsible for a crucial fumble which Bruins star Kenny Washington (after taking a lateral from quarterback Jim Montgomery) wound up returning for the first touchdown of the game during UCLA’s 13-0 triumph over the Huskies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum twelve months earlier in early October of 1938.

UCLA right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON (# 28)

Later on in the third quarter, the reserve left halfback Fenenbock and the first string right halfback Robinson hooked up on a 43-yard passing play that took the pigskin all the way down to the Washington 14-yard line. For the third time in the contest, though, the Huskies braced themselves and repulsed UCLA to the tune of a further eighteen yards in offensive losses. It may have appeared to some as as if the snake-bitten Bruins would never break onto the scoreboard until the sure-footed McAdams boomed another of his punts high into the Seattle sky with less than five minutes to play before the final period.

But that would have before Robinson, who had hauled a punt back 83 yards for a touchdown in Pasadena Junior College’s first scheduled game in 1938, took possession of McAdams’ punt and burst free for a 64-yard return that one account called “the greatest piece of broken field running ever seen”. Only a late, last-ditch tackle from Washington left end BILL MARX at the Huskies five-yard line prevented the UCLA rookie from tying the score. On the very next play, the Bruins left halfback Washington crashed into the end zone over right guard and, appropriately enough, Robinson added the extra point kick to knot the affair.

(And so the famed Jackie Robinson, who had already scored a record-setting 132 points during his final campaign with Pasadena Junior College in 1938, had now officially recorded his very first point as a member of the UCLA Bruins)

The dreaded draw looked to be a very real possibility for both Washington and UCLA as a lion’s share of the fourth quarter elapsed without either side having mounted any real scoring threat. And then the Bruins senior co-captain Gilmore stepped forth in the waning minutes of the contest to pick off another Huskies pass from McAdam and was downed at midfield. The visiting General Washington took immediate command of the situation at hand and connected with his traditional battery mate Strode for a 27-yard gain which penetrated deep into Huskies territory.

Another pass from Washington to Strode carried the pigskin inside the Huskies’ 10-yard stripe before a few more running plays from UCLA failed outright. However, the Bruins finally went to the lead at long last after the Kingfish found Gilmore all alone in the flat for an easy reception and the game-winning points. For the undersized senior right halfback from Van Nuys, it was only the second (and last) career touchdown scored on behalf of the Bruins – but it certainly was a most important one.

Never before in history had a UCLA Bruins varsity football team been able to celebrate a victory over the University of Washington’s gridders at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

Attendance according to newspaper references
16,000 …… Ellensburg Daily Record ……… 10/09/39
16,000 …… St. Petersburg Times …………… 10/08/39
16,000 …… The Afro American ……………… 10/14/39
13,000 …… Berkeley Daily Gazette ………… 10/09/39
13,000 …… Eugene Register Guard ………… 10/08/39
13,000 …… The Milwaukee Journal ……….. 10/08/39
none ………. The Pittsburgh Press ……………. 10/08/39

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