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 378, Ore St 270
first downs …………………………………. UCLA 15, Ore St 15
net rushing yards ………………………… UCLA 293, Ore St 241
net passing yards ………………………… UCLA 85, Ore St 29
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
punts / average …………………………… UCLA 6 – 35.1, Ore St 7 – 37.0
kick & punt return yards ……………… UCLA 120, Ore St 55
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)

UCLA individual net rushing statistics
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# 13 … Kenny WASHINGTON ……. 20 carries ….. 97 yards
# 28 … Jackie ROBINSON ……………. 7 carries ….. 92 yards
# 5 ….. Bill OVERLIN …………………… 8 carries ….. 46 yards
# 2 ….. Leo CANTOR ……………………. 6 carries ….. 34 yards
# 55 … Ned MATTHEWS ……………… 1 carry ……. 14 yards
# 25 … Dale GILMORE …………………. 2 carries ….. 10 yards

It is interesting to observe 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”.

Notes — Oregon State right halfback MORRIS KOHLER rushed for 112 yards on just 13 carries (8.6 avg) while Beavers fullback JIM KISSELBURGH added 63 yards (3.5 avg) on the ground for the visitors.

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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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Filed under UCLA - '39 Game Reports, UCLA Football