Scoring and receiving the ball back

Throughout the years, college football has made numerous changes in scoring values and also ways of awarding teams.

Case-in-point as an email from fellow college football researcher, Paul Land, presented this question:

I have a question regarding game rules that could have been in place for pre-1900 contests. While researching the 1897 Oregon season, I ran across this game story in the local newspaper. Note that the play by play description appears to imply that Portland kicked off after every Oregon score, which no doubt helped lead to the 95-0 final score.

Was this a regional rule? A game-agreed rule? Or something that was on the books at the time?

A very interesting question. I have only seen one other time that the team that allowed the score give the ball back to the one that the opposing team–only to see it tally more points.  This was in the 1916 Georgia Tech Cumberland  game (222-0).

So without much information on such a play, I sent-out emails to other researchers for assistance and feedback.

Two replied; with different views on “rules of the day.”

Vic Winnek, NCAA Football Official, Instructor of Football Officials was the first to reply:


Great to receive your e-mail about the 1897 Kick-off Rule (the play by play description appears to imply that Portland kicked off after every Oregon score,).  This was a rule on the books until the mid 2000s.

I believe the Football rule at play is Rule VII, Section 1(c.) After Scoring:

The teams shall not change goals after a try-at-goal following a touchdown, nor after a goal from the field, but the side just scored upon shall have the option of kicking or having their opponents kick off.

Thus Oregon scored and elected to have Portland kick-off to Oregon.   This was a national rule not a regional rule.  

In the modern NCAA Football Rulebook this is rectified and addressed in Rule 8 section 3 Article 6  which provides after a touchdown the ball shall next be put into play by a kickoff or at the succeeding spot in extra periods. “The field captain of the team against which the six point touchdown was scored shall designate which team shall kickoff.”  Rule 8-4-2-a provides that The field captain of the team against which the 3 point field goal was scored shall designate which team shall kickoff.”

This rule was changed some time between 2003-2007 to take away the option and to mandate the team that had just been scored upon shall receive the kick-off and the scoring team still kick off.

Then, a few days later, another fellow researcher and author, James Herget sent this response.

I don’t know how the 95-0 score was rolled up, but it was probably not due to the kick off rule.  By 1880, when the game was still primarily Rugby, a practice had developed called inch kicking.  Although the rules said that team A had to kick off when team B scored, the practice of inch kicking nullified the rule.  The rule did not say that the kick had to go 10 yards or any particular distance.  Therefore, the kicker could tap the ball with his foot and then pick it up and run with it.  Officials did not object to this practice.  See my book “American Football: How the Game Evolved” at page 39.

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in learn how the game has progressed from the beginning down through years—without highlighting a respective season, team or player; just how the game has developed, the American Football: How the Game Evolved is a book that would aid in your in journey.

Future postings, after some research, will include the rules of the day–from the 1914 season–along with the scoring accomplishments.

After the fourth weekend of the 2014 college football season, teams are putting-up a high scores, both sides of the scoreboard…just falling short in reaching the combined century mark.

* * *

A Baker’s Dozen

Heading into this weekend’s action, just 14 games have seen teams Light-up the Scoreboard by combing for 100 or more points.

Pouring through the respective division’s composite stats, in this case, scoring; shows the teams that scored the most points in the games listed within this blog, just 4 on within the leaders in Offensive Scoring Averages–with 9  in the Top 25.  Augsburg has registered the lowest ranking–59th–in NCAA III of teams with a game of 100 combined points.

  • For the first time this season, all 5 divisions have at least one game listed with the other high-scoring games.

Current Highest Combined Points Scored (through Sept. 20)

Points 2014  Teams and Scores Division Current RK Total Pts OSA
118 Texas A&M-Commerce 98, East Texas Baptist 20 NCAA II 2 170 56.7
111 East Carolina 70, North Carolina 41 BSD 18 173 43.3
111 Washington 59, Eastern Washington 52 BSD 25* (tied Ole Miss) 165 41.3
110 Waldorf 68, Trinity Bible 42 NAIA 24 166 33.2
107 Faulkner 55, Reihhardt 52 NAIA 5 195 48.8
106 Ottawa 59, Benedictine KS 47 NAIA 29 95 31.7
103 St. Xavier 65, Marian (Ind) 38 NAIA 19 108 36
103 Eastern Washington 52, Montana State 51 CSD 2 201 50.3
102 Morningside 83, Nebraska Wesleyan 19 NAIA 1 211 70.3
102 Pikeville 62, Bluefield 40 NAIA 13 160 40
101 Southeastern Oklahoma State 52, Arkansas-Monticello 49 NCAA II 54* (tied with Kutztown, Walsh, Emporia St.) 98 32.7
100 Augsburg 55, Concordia WI 45 NCAA III 59 100 33.3
100 Reinhardt 52, Lindsay Wilson 48 NAIA 11 167 41.8

 As you read, each division is represented; all but the NAIA have a long way of reaching or surpassing their single-season mark. The NAIA needs 4 such games to tie its 2010 mark of 10.

Listed by most games, here are each division’s highest scoring season of Lighting-up the Scoreboard.

*NCAA III, 29, 2010

* Stars-Era (1900-1936), 22, 1920

*NCAA 1-A/BSD, 20, 2012

*NCAA II, 2007 & 2012

*NCAA 1AA/CSD, 10, 1999

*NAIA, 10, 2010

*Stars-Era (1884-1899), 4, 1890 & 91

There is an excellent chance that at least one more game could be added to the NAIA’s 2014 season.

Alan Grosbach, NAIA Manager of Communications and Sports Information writes in 

NAIA Football Weekly Update

• No. 4 Faulkner (Ala.) looks to continue its best start in program history when the Eagles host No. 17 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) Saturday afternoon in the NAIA Football Game of the Week.
Saturday marks the third all-time meeting between the two programs. The all-time series is knotted at 1-1, as each team owns a home victory.
• Dominant offense has been the standard when Faulkner and Lindsey Wilson meet, as the two squads have combined for 1,943 yards and 151 points in their two prior meetings.

* * *

NAIA  Schools Trade Scores; establish standards

In 2011, Faulkner (AL) and Union (KY) combined for 184 points; in the process  made Scoring StatHistory.

Faulkner held on for the shootout triumph, 95-89. In the process became the fifth highest combined points since scoring values were introduced in 1883-as well, the winners are the only team on the highest combined point list that failed to reach the century mark and not register a shutout.

Top 10 Highest Scoring Games, 1883-2013

222 1916 Georgia Tech 222, Cumberland 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
206 1922 King 206, Lenoir 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
205 1916 St. Viator 205, Lane Tech HS 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
187 1922 Roanoke 187, Randolph-Macon Academy 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
184 2011 Faulkner 95, Union (Ky.) 89 NAIA
183 1916 Central State Normal 183, Methodist Univ. 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
179 1917 Oklahoma 179, Kingfisher 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
178 1919 Albion 178, River Rouge Navy 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
171 1920 North Georgia Agricultural 171, Lanier 0 Stars-era, 1900-36
167 1920 Arizona 167, Camp Jones 0 Stars-era, 1900-36

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