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Dobyns-Bennett football put up record numbers on Norton in 1926

Tanner Cook • May 28, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Starting off any sports season with a win is a good feeling. 

On Sept. 25, 1926 — two days after Gene Tunney had beaten world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey in 10 rounds — the Dobyns-Bennett football team TKO’d the Norton High Black Devils to open the season 193-0.

The mark still stands as a Tennessee and Virginia record for points by both one and two teams. 

It also is sixth nationally and is the highest amount of points for one team in the Southeast. D-B scored 30 touchdowns on the day and went across the line on average every three minutes.

Led by star quarterback/kicker and future Tennessee football legend Bobby Dodd, the Maroon and Gray scored 55 points in the opening quarter. 

THE STARTING 11

D-B ran the “Split T” offense at the time and left halfback Paul Hug had quite the game, scoring eight rushing touchdowns. Hug went on to become an All-Southern end at Tennessee. 

Dodd had five scores on the ground and right halfback “Gabby” Meredith scored twice. Fullback Jimmy Duncan, who “stood head and shoulders above all others” scored three times and helped “remove threatening Nortonites in front of the carrier of the ball and paved the way for many of the locals’ touchdowns.” 

Indians head coach LeRoy Sprankle decided to pull his starters after the first quarter, but the reserves could only muster 12 points. 

The Tribe trotted out diminutive, 86-pounder Jimmy Hamlett to replace Dodd. According to Times News reporter Johnnie Oliver, Hamlett “led the backfield with the other three seeming as giants compared to his size. He showed excellent generalship under fire.” 

According to Oliver’s article, Sprankle was so disappointed in his backups that he put his starters back in for the third quarter and the Tribe rolled up 73 points and had totaled 140 by the end of the third. 

Dodd was also successful on four touchdown passes, all to Clyce. Dodd kicked six successful PATs.

SCORES FOR THE RESERVES

The second-stringers got plenty of playing time during the slaughter. 

“Bull” Herron had a score, while Fred Barger — the father of Pal’s Sudden Service founder Fred “Pal” Barger — had two runs to paydirt.

Luke Lowe, who lost the starting quarterback role to Dodd three years prior, also got in the game, scoring once. 

THE OPPOSITION

Even though the Black Devils did not get on the board that evening, Oliver stated in his game story that “the Norton men never gave up the fight, weak as they were. They scrapped every minute of play.”

Norton, according to Oliver, did not gain one first down the entire game and never pushed the ball into D-B territory. 

The lone standout for the Black Raiders — only known by the last name of Horne — had the majority of the yards for Norton and completed one pass.

There was only one penalty called in the game. 

MORE ON DODD AND SPRANKLE

Dodd, originally from Galax, Virgina, went on to graduate from D-B the following spring after winning two state titles and enrolled at Tennessee. 

He wanted to attend another powerhouse of the South at the time in Georgia Tech (coached by College Football Hall of Famer William Alexander), but he was not offered a scholarship. 

At Tennessee, Dodd earned the starting quarterback role in 1928 and helped lead Robert Neyland’s Volunteers to identical 9-0-1 records his sophomore and junior seasons. He earned All-Southern honors twice, Walter Camp All-American once (1930) and directed the “Hack and Mack” backfield of Buddy Hackman and Gene McEver. 

Dodd was so loved by Tennessee fans that they developed the catch phrase of “In Dodd We Trust.”

After a successful coaching career that included back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles at Georgia Tech in 1951 and 1952 and the national championship in the latter year, Dodd became the athletic director until 1976. 

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 as a player, posthumously in 1993 as a coach and is one of only four people to have that distinction. Dodd passed away in 1988. 

Sprankle was the second coach at then-Kingsport High School in 1922 (Don Williamson was the first) and is often referred to as the “Father of East Tennessee Sports.” He coached multiple sports from 1921-43 and guided the likes of Dodd, Hug, Darrell and Denver Crawford, Nat H. Reasor, Beryl Shipley and John R. Bell. 

After serving as a second lieutenant at Camp Gordon in World War I, Sprankle relocated to Ohio, where he got involved with the Canton Bulldogs professional football team. He made quick friends with some of the players, including the iconic Jim Thorpe. 

Sprankle is most noted for helping standardize high school sports officiating in Tennessee and pioneering interstate and international competitions. Sprankle died in 1972. 

BOX SCORE

Dobyns-Bennett 193, Norton 0

Norton 0 0 0 0 — 0

Dobyns-Bennett 55 12 73 53 — 193

Touchdowns — Hug (8), Dodd (5), Clyce (4), Duncan (3), Meredith (2), Barger (2), Poston (2) , Lowe, Trimble, Herron, Compton. 

Point After Touchdown — Dodd (6), Lowe (3), Duncan (2), Poston (2).

Officials — Referee, Sullinger (Maryville College), Umpire, Snow (Adrian College), Head Linesman, Bliasett  (Milligan College), Timer, Williamson (Boston Tech).

 

 

 

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