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Homecoming: A Crimson Tide Tradition



Oct. 30, 2008

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. 

“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 shut out 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.

HOMECOMING GAME NOTES:  Alabama will play its 88th all-time Homecoming football game this weekend when the Crimson Tide hosts Arkansas State at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Alabama has compiled a 73-13-1 (.839) all-time homecoming record, including a 30-24 win over Houston on Oct. 6, 2007. The Crimson Tide is riding a six-game homecoming winning streak dating back to the 2002 season. UA has not lost on homecoming since a 35-21 loss to LSU (coached by Nick Saban) on Nov. 3, 2001. A win over ASU on Saturday would match the longest winning streak since winning six straight homecoming games from 1991-96. The first homecoming game took place on Armistice Day during the 1920 season. J.T. O’Connor, a senior back from St. Louis, Mo., scored two touchdowns and kicked all three extra points in the 21-0 win. From 1929-39, Alabama won 11 consecutive homecoming games. The streak was snapped with a 13-0 loss to Mississippi State on Nov. 30, 1940. After the loss to MSU, Alabama reeled off a nine-game winning streak from 1941-50. UA did not play football in 1943. The Crimson Tide followed that 10-game winning streak with a 2-4-1 (.429) record in its next seven homecoming games from 1951-57.  The Tide’s 30-21 loss to Florida on Nov. 24, 1951 snapped a nine-game homecoming winning streak. Alabama posted a school-record 26-game homecoming winning streak from 1958-83. Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was a perfect 25-0 in homecoming games at Alabama from 1958-82. Coach Ray Perkins extended the streak to 26 games with a 44-13 win over Memphis State on Oct. 1, 1983.  The streak ended the following year with a 30-21 loss to Vanderbilt on Sept. 29, 1984. Alabama defeated Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) 38-10 on Oct. 3, 1987 at Birmingham’s Legion Field in the only homecoming game not played on the UA campus. The Crimson Tide played all of its games at Legion Field during the 1987 season as Bryant-Denny Stadium underwent an expansion project. Since 1984, Alabama has compiled an 18-6 homecoming record over the last 24 years.

HOMECOMING FOES: Arkansas State will become Alabama’s 28th different homecoming opponent since that inaugural game in 1920. UA’s most common homecoming opponent is Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs have met 23 times, with the Tide holding a 19-3-1 homecoming record against MSU. Overall, Alabama has played 46 homecoming games against SEC teams and has compiled a 37-8-1 (.815) record.  The Crimson Tide has not played an SEC team on homecoming since beating Ole Miss 42-7 on Oct. 19, 2002.  The list of homecoming opponents includes: Central Florida (0-1), Cincinnati (1-0), Clemson (2-0), Florida (2-2), Florida International (1-0), Florida State (1-0), Georgia (1-0), Houston (2-0), Kentucky (6-0), LSU (4-1), Louisiana Tech (0-1), Louisville (2-0), Memphis (1-0), Miami, Fla. (4-0), Mississippi (3-0), Mississippi State (19-4-1), North Carolina State (2-0), Penn State (0-1), Rutgers (1-0), South Carolina (4-0), Southern Mississippi (7-0), Southwestern Louisiana (1-0), Tennessee (1-1), Tulane (1-0), Utah State (1-0), Vanderbilt (0-1) and Virginia Tech (5-0).