If walls could talk, the weathered bricks surrounding the high school stadium in Haverhill, Massachusetts would have more than a few tall tales.
In ninety-nine years, the small town stadium saw Babe Ruth taking batting practice, a pair of American Football League teams scrimmaging before thousands of local fans, and enough high school football dreams to fill its 100 yards and then some. But few would believe that its most memorable game over these years was that of its opening day.
Like many mill towns of New England, the early 1900's were its salad days. For Haverhill, forty miles north of Boston on the rail line to New Hampshire, it was the best of times as one of the nation's leading shoe manufacturing cities. With its idyllic public high school, the inspiration for the Archie Comics' Riverdale High, a stadium worthy of its stature was in order. In 1916, construction began on a 5,000 seat facility that would be the envy of the Bay State. But no ordinary high school game would be its debut.
"All energies were bent during that week to rounding the team into form for its game with Dartmouth two weeks later, The Eastern game, which we won, 69-7, showed a team greatly improved over that which had faced the Navy, but still lacking the machine like style of play necessary to defeat Dartmouth. Eastern, much inferior in weight and coaching, was a pigmy in the hands of the Varsity and had we tried, the score could have been greatly increased.With Gilroy performing before his hometown fans, the Blue and Gray continued to dominate. Turnovers held sway late, but neither team could take advantage. a drop kick by Maloney extended the lead to 10-0 in the fourth quarter, but Dartmouth could come no closer. For the first time in Georgetown's football history, it had defeated a team from what would become the Ivy League, and would not do so for another 87 years.
"Though we looked forward to the Dartmouth game with hope, it cannot be said that we were by any means overconfident. Exendine drove his men hard during the remaining days before they left for Haverhill to meet Dartmouth. Scrimmages were held every afternoon, the line was coached in charging, the backs in line smashing and end runs, and special emphasis was laid on the formation of interference and the use of the forward pass. Then came the game with Dartmouth, dedicating the new Haverhill Stadium.
"On October 21, a squad of thirty journeyed to Haverhill, Massachusetts, for the big game of our schedule and one of the biggest games of the year," it continued. Georgetown faced the powerful veteran team from Dartmouth, with the latter a 3-to-1 favorite. This game had a double significance, as it marked the formal dedication of the Haverhill High School Stadium. The city was all set for the game. Dartmouth had a large representation of about 5,000 alumni and friends; Georgetown was equally represented by our New England alumni and Haverhill friends.
"On the first play Dartmouth kicked to [Jackie] Maloney, who was thrown on his 20-yard line. An attempted run...failed, and Maloney kicked. The Georgetown ends were very fast and nailed the Dartmouth men in their tracks. Captain Gerrish circled the end for a small gain. Dartmouth fumbled, and [Paul] Showalter recovered the ball on Georgetown's 46-yard line. Gilroy, after fumbling the ball on a poor pass, shook off four tacklers and ran 28 yards to Dartmouth's 27-yard line. It was the most brilliant exhibition of held running thus far, and the Georgetown stand expressed its delight. [Johnny] McQuade and [Pete] Wall gained a few yards on line plunges. The Georgetown stand s were rooting for a touchdown. On the next play, Gilroy made a beautiful pass on a fake kick that brought the ball to Dartmouth's 7-yard line... On [third down] Gilroy shot a perfect pass to [Tommy] Whelan, who caught the ball behind the line for a touchdown. Gilroy then kicked the goal. Score: Georgetown, 7; Dartmouth, 0.
"Dartmouth's most favorable opportunity to cross the line was offered in the second period, when Cannell, who had just entered the game, electrified the Dartmouth stand by tearing 40 yards down the field on a sweeping run around their left end before the speedy Gilroy brought him [down] on the Georgetown 6-yard line. Two rushes planted the ball two yards nearer the goal, but Georgetown's line was stiffening. The Dartmouth fans cried hard for a touchdown. The...Georgetown rooters yelled, "Hold 'em, Georgetown!" Coach Cavanaugh was scratching his chin. Exendine was smoking hard.
"Gerrish was given the ball and charged at our right tackle. Captain O'Connor was on the alert and hit the Dartmouth Captain so hard that the latter fumbled. Words cannot describe the few seconds that followed. Both stands were silent. Then Pete Wall emerged from the surging lines with the ball tucked securely under his arm. Three Dartmouth men tried to tackle him, but each was shaken off, and our Captain-elect, with a clear field to Dartmouth's goal, ran to his own 37-yard line, when he stumbled and was buried under an avalanche of Green players, who were in close pursuit."
"The leading football writers of New England commended Coach Exendine for the perfect offense and powerful defense his team displayed," the College yearbook continued. E.B. Sargent, of the Haverhill Gazette: "It was Georgetown's greatest gridiron achievement in the college's athletic annals, and it cannot be said that the victory was not a deserved one. Georgetown clearly outplayed the lads from Hanover.
Albert J. Woodlock, of the Boston Globe, and C. F. Parker, of the Boston Post, congratulated Georgetown as having one of the best backfields in the country... The team was banqueted after the game and met at South Station, at Boston, by Mayor Curley, who congratulated each member of the squad.
Who is there that will ever forget that auspicious night when the glorious news of Georgetown's victory over Dartmouth by the score of 10 to 0 reached our ears? The next day Union Station was swamped with our turnout to welcome back home that wonderful team. With a rush that threatened serious damage to the grand and stately gateway to our National Capital, we bore our heroes to the waiting automobiles. That night the student body held a bonfire celebration, the like of which no resident of Georgetown ever witnessed before. It was the finest celebration of a victory ever held on the Hilltop."