1886 College Football Summary

After not playing in 1885, Harvard makes its comeback with vengeance scoring 765 points a mark that would not be surpassed for 118 years.

Despite it success of putting-up points, Harvard finished the season at 12-2; including a 29-4 loss to Yale.

This season also saw one of college football's all-time greatest spokesmen begin his college career; as Amos Alonzo Stagg would enter Yale.

One of the biggest events of the early years of the sport was annual games played on Thanksgiving.

This year, rivals Princeton and Yale would clash on a muddy field.

Following a delay in finding a suitable official the teams were scoreless tie at the end of the first half.

Then, as darkness began to fall, Yale recovered a fumble which would lead to a 4-point touchdown being scored and would be declared the victor.

But this wasn't the last anyone would hear of the game; as the rules of the day called for the score to revert back to the first half score if the game hadn't been completed.

Later that evening, the Rules Convention would meet. It would declare Yale the winner; but no official championship was awarded for this season.

With the triumph, Yale finished the season 10-0 and its 11 consecutive win on its way to a Pre-1937 record of 48 straight games without a setback.

Individual highlights included a pair of player scoring 11 touchdowns in leading their respective teams to wins.

Harvard and Yale both scored well-over 100 points in the victories. (For the season, the former scored 144 touchdowns and 78 conversions!!)

Two players, Harry Beecher, Yale and Harvard's Jefferson Fletcher, propelled their teams to victory. Fletcher's unit was victorious a 158-0 run-a-way win over Exeter; while Beecher's tallies led Yale over Wesleyan.

Both players scored 11 times.

Not to be out done by their respective teammates; Francis Woodman (Harvard) and Yale's George Watkinson each converted 20 goals after touchdown.

Beecher's scores led Yale to its third victory of the season against Wesleyan, 136-0. (The other games each were a composite 137-0.)

In one of the fore mention Yale-Wesleyan game, Watkinson converted 86 such kicks, on his way to a Pre-1937 single-season high.

Watkinson's missed on his first two tries and then made the next 20 in-a-row.

He latter also was responsible for all-time best 202 kick-scoring points; as he also made (that is available) 2 kicks from the field.

Not to be out done, Princeton had its own successful kicker.

This season was the first year for of the game's outstanding early era players; Knowlton "Snake" Ames, Princeton College would kick the first of 26 Goals from the field (aka field goals) during his career.

Princeton, this season, would begin a 75 consecutive home winning streak; which didn't end until the 1900 season.

Another scoring highlight, this season those teams playing the rugby union game began to use the new numerical scoring; 1 try = 1 point; a conversion goal = 2 points and a dropped goal = 3 points.

1886 Leaders

  • Offensive Scoring Leader (Most Points Scored)
       Harvard (12-2-0) 736 Points
  • Defensive Scoring Leader (Least Points Allowed)
        Yale (10-0-1) 10 Points
  • National Champions (Retroactive)
        Yale (10-0-1)
        Princeton (7-0-1)
  • Intercollegiate Football Association Standings
Team IFA Record Full Season
Princeton 3-0-1 7-0-1
Yale 3-0-1 10-0-1
Harvard 2-2-0 12-2-1
Wesleyan 0-4-0 2-6-0

Writers R.M. Hodge and Walter Camp, writers for The Outing Magazine named Yale National Champion; while another of the publication's writers, J. Parmly Paret, had Harvard as his first team in set of three groups.

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