Spiders versus Rebels
Some high school football games will never be forgotten… case in point, the 13-12 win by the Concord Spiders over the Monroe Rebels in 1954. There are many newspaper articles rehashing this infamous game which was played on Monroe’s turf, with both teams undefeated. In the second quarter, the Rebels’ Horse Howell scored first and kicked the extra point. The referees signaled that the kick was good, but detected illegal procedure (a Rebel had run off the field thinking there were 12 players) and refused Monroe a chance to re-kick the extra point.) At halftime, the referee admitted he had made a mistake.
In the third quarter, Concord scored on a quarterback sneak and missed the extra point. They scored again and got the extra point, making the score 13-6. Monroe, following the next kick-off, got off “the prettiest play of the game, a 77-yard pass pattern from Sam McGuirt to speedy Tommy Nash.” Howell missed the extra point, and Concord ran out the clock with the ending score of 13-12. The Rebels were rattled by another referee decision, after the second Monroe TD, the referee wouldn’t let them use the extra point tee that had been used for years before (and even after this particular game). In fact, it had been used on the first attempted extra point.
Naturally tempers flared right after the game as players and fans from both teams ran onto the field. One account says there were 500 people on the field. The police quickly broke up the fight.
Walter Bickett High School had only 200 students enrolled during the 1950s, but always had a superb football team. The newspaper account says there were 1,167 paid admissions to this game, the largest at a Monroe football game since 1949.Horse was touted as being the most outstanding performer on the field: “the Rebels’ 243-pound left tackle who switches to offensive right end, scored, kicked off, led the defensive charges, blocked viciously and partially blocked a punt as he bowled over three Concord players.”
Miss Virginia Neal, the Monroe Journal Society Editor, wrote “Monroe’s nicknames, ‘Horse’ and ‘Abscess’ added color to the sport. There being no horse in sight, we wondered what the visitors thought prompted such yells as ‘Get in there now, Horse’ and ‘Come on, Abscess.’ It was worth anybody’s dollar to see Tommy Nash grab that pass in the closing minutes of the game and run 77 yards for a touchdown with a field full of players streaming after him.” She also wrote “Concord really put on a show. Her band, about as large as Monroe’s student body, was excellently trained, made a wonderful appearance, and put out the music.” “Their high-stepping majorettes were lovely in black velvet and white satin. Stealing the show was a miniature majorette in the lead twirling her baton, who, in one incident, stood on her head in the middle of the field while the larger girls cut cartwheels over her.”
The call was disputed by Coach Harry Jaynes. Newspaper account: “Jaynes feels that his team should be afforded some opportunity of tieing [sic] the score at 13-13, since a referee’s mistake cost the Pythons [Monroe’s old team name] the extra point that would have gotten the tie.” Jaynes’ account of what had happened: “Lining up for the extra point, one of our boys thought we had 12 men on the field and ran off. The QB waited until he was off the field before he called the signals. We made the extra point. We actually had only 10 men on the field, not 12. The referee ruled that our player had moved in the direction of the ball as he ran off the field, and that we were subject to an illegal procedure penalty. The referee told Concord’s captain that he had the choice of taking the penalty or the play. He took the penalty, and instead of having us penalized five yards and re-kicking, he nullified our extra point. He admitted at halftime that he had made a mistake and that he should have allowed us to kick again.”
Richard Howie wrote about this incident in several of his columns (“Rambling Around Town with Richard”) - one was entitled “We Were Robbed!” The upshot of it all is that the executive committee of the South Piedmont Conference Southern Division ruled that the 13-12 score stands. Their decision was based on a rule stating that the referee’s decision shall stand whether it is right or wrong. It also stated that there cannot be a protest once the next play has started.
The column “Heard In Passing,” cited this game as hard, clean, and well played and praised several players: Sam McGuirt’s thrilling pass, Tommy Nash’s thrilling catch and touchdown (the best “since Hunter Hadley Jr. ran over five would-be tacklers in the last few minutes of a game in Thomasville five years ago to score the winning points”). He also highlighted other players: linemen - Horse Howell, Rev Mitchum, Gerald Hasty and Arnold Mills.
Is there anything more thrilling than an exciting high school football game - the memory of which still lives today in the minds of all the players and fans……..
Return to Nita's Articles