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Might and Fury on the Football Field

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On this date in 1915, Wahpeton residents were buzzing about the football game between rivals Wahpeton and Breckenridge. Cold temperatures and rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd attending the game. The main topic of conversation was what Wahpeton fans considered the poor sportsmanship of the Breckenridge team.

Controversy centered on two players, which the local newspaper claimed were not qualified to play. The paper said both were over the age of twenty-one and were not high school students. A Breckenridge official denied the report. The newspaper maintained that it was poor sportsmanship to allow the two players on the field.

The entire Breckenridge team was also accused of poor sportsmanship. One Wahpeton player was kicked in the head when he was down. The star Wahpeton quarterback was taken off the field after an unfair hit.

In spite of the odds against them, the scrappy Wahpeton players acquitted themselves well. The first half ended with no score. The paper reported that the Wahpeton team came back to the field [QUOTE] “grim, and determined and angry through to the backbone on account of the dirty trick and unsportsmanship played on them.”

Breckenridge scored a touchdown early in the second half, but failed to make the extra point. The paper said Wahpeton came back “with might and fury that fairly shook the ground.” The team scored a touchdown and the extra point, making the score seven to six.

Breckenridge drove the field in the final minutes. With only thirty seconds remaining, Breckenridge was on Wahpeton’s fifteen-yard line. The Wahpeton fans prepared to go home saddened by a looming loss as Breckenridge brought one of the accused ringers in to drop-kick a game-winning field goal. Victory was at hand, and celebration was already beginning on the Breckenridge side of the field.

But the game isn’t over until it’s over. It was a mighty kick, and a hush came over the crowd, but the ball sailed wide. Wahpeton fans erupted in cheers, and the town maintained bragging rights for another year.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Wahpeton Times. “Maloney Fails to Drop Kick a Goal.” Wahpeton ND. 10/21/1915. Page 1.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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