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Alabama Football Flashback: 1920 Homecoming Game



By Barry Allen
UA Media Relations

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ?? Two years after the end of World War I, the University of Alabama staged an Armistice Day celebration that began the tradition of homecoming at the Capstone.

Alabama and LSU met on Thursday, Nov. 11, 1920 at 11 a.m. in what was the first homecoming football game in Crimson Tide history. 

“The University authorities have decided to make Armistice Day only what it should be at the University; that is an outstanding day, one that will rank along with our own A Day,’ the Tuscaloosa News said in its Thursday edition. “Armistice Day will provide a gala celebration at Alabama in the nature of the first annual home-coming day for the alumni.”

Prior to the game, a pregame program honoring many WWI veterans and a parade were held on campus. Governor Thomas Kilby attended the festivities along with members of the UA Board of Trustees.  At halftime, a 3-mile road race was held involving teams from Alabama, LSU, Birmingham Athletic Club and Georgia.  The race began in front of the gym and extended to the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse then back along University Avenue, terminating in front of the bleachers at Denny Field. 


Riggs Stephenson 

“The students will be glad to have these distinguished visitors attend as their presence will give an air of greater significance to our celebration and the consciousness of the state-wide interest to the participants,” the Tuscaloosa News said.

The Tide brought a 7-0 record into the game and had shutout six of the first seven opponents. Alabama was coming off it’s first-ever win over Vanderbilt, 14-7, the week before in Birmingham.

Alabama posted its seventh shutout of the year with a 21-0 win and Coach Xen Scott’s defense was brilliant once again.  LSU managed only three first downs, one in the first half and two in the second half, and never seriously threatened.  LSU punter Clarence “Fatty” Ives was excellent and helped keep the score down.

All-American fullback Riggs Stephenson was the star on offense for the Crimson Tide.  In the second quarter, his 35-yard pass to Fioretti (first name unknown) to the LSU 8-yard line set up the game’s first score.  J.T. O’Connor, a native of St. Louis, capped the drive with an 8-yard run on the next play as the Tide took a 7-0 lead.

In the final period, Stumpy Bartlett, who substituted for Stephenson and made four long runs, intercepted a pass and returned the ball seven yards.  Walter Hovater, who suffered a broken nose in the Vanderbilt game, passed to Mully Lenior, who caught the ball on the run and ran 40 yards for a touchdown.  O’Connor added the extra point.

Alabama scored again when Ives’ punt was rushed and went out of bounds at the LSU 27.  After Stephenson and Hovater rushed for 15 yards, O’Connor scored on 12-yard run off tackle and then added the extra point.

The day was concluded with a homecoming dance and one of the Crimson Tide’s many great football traditions was born.