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WASHINGTON AND LEE FOOTBALL HISTORY

Football is one of the oldest sports at Washington and Lee with games dating back to 1873 against the neighboring Virginia Military Institute. The first meeting between W&L and VMI is recognized by many historians as the first college football game ever played in the South. The first "official" season was in 1890 and since that time W&L football has seen dramatic changes.

The first golden era of W&L football began in 1905. In the period between 1905 to 1917 the Generals reeled off 13 straight winning seasons. From 1912 to 1915 W&L went 32-3-1 and won the South Atlantic Championship in 1914. The 1914 team, coached by Jogger Elcock, was the first team in school history to go undefeated (9-0) and outscored its opponents 324-12.

W&L experienced many other big years after the 1914 championship season, but it would be 20 years before another title came to Lexington. The 1934 Generals went 7-3 with a 4-0 mark in the Southern Conference to claim the championship flag under the direction of coach W.E. "Tex" Tilson.

W&L's fortunes then took a downward skid and the program stopped from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II. The Generals resumed action in 1946 and in 1950 put together a dream season with probably the greatest team in school history.

In the 12 seasons after the 1934 championship W&L had not had a single winning season, but all that changed in 1950. Led by quarterback Gil Bocetti and future NFL All-Pro linebacker Walt Michaels, W&L marched through the regular season with an 8-2 record and a 5-0 mark in the Southern Conference to win the league title. With Bocetti running the show and Michaels at fullback, the Generals had a potent offense that averaged over 30 points a game. The only losses that season were a 26-21 setback to archrival Virginia and a 27-20 loss at Tennessee. Tennessee, which finished the season ranked fourth in the country, scored three of its touchdowns on returns and was outgained by over 120 yards in the contest.

W&L, coached by George Barclay, was rewarded with its first and only trip a post-season bowl game. On New Year's Day 1951, W&L met up with an undefeated Wyoming team in the Gator Bowl. But with Michaels bedridden with appendicitis, W&L fell to the Cowboys 20-7. W&L finished the year ranked 18th.

The following year W&L posted the biggest upset in school history. W&L humbled archrival Virginia 42-14 at Wilson Field, posting its first win over the Wahoos since 1937. During that 1951 season W&L played No. 1 Tennessee, No. 3 Maryland, No. 13 Virginia, played at the Orange Bowl against Miami and played against Johnny Unitas, who was the quarterback for Louisville.

In the summer of 1954 the face of W&L football changed forever. The University stunned the athletic world when it announced it was abolishing its practice of awarding athletic scholarships. The move was made because of the necessity of lowering academic standards to field a competitive "big-time" team and also because of a cheating scandal involving several members of the team in the spring of 1954.

After fielding a junior varsity a team in 1954 the Generals renewed varsity action in 1955. The first four years of college division football proved rough-going as W&L went a combined 2-29. But in 1959 the W&L faithful could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The 1959 squad went just 3-4-1 under coach Lee McLaughlin, but it gave hope for the future.

The hope turned out to be reality as a rebirth of W&L football took place. W&L had a combined record of 25-1-1 from 1960 to 1962, highlighted by the 1961 team going 9-0 and winning the Washington Touchdown Club's Timmie Award as the best small college team in the nation. The 1961 club was also the subject of a six-page spread in Sports Illustrated.

Those teams were best exemplified by the spirit of two-time Associated Press Little All-American Terry Fohs. Just five-foot-seven and 145 pounds he was a fierce competitor and led the team in tackles all four years. He saw the team go from a 1-7 record his first year to a national title his senior year.

W&L enjoyed continued success under McLaughlin, but following his tragic death in the summer of 1968 it was a tough stretch. W&L went 10 years without a winning season prior to the arrival of head coach Gary Fallon in 1978. In his third season, Fallon led the Generals to the first of six straight winning seasons. The 1981 team went 8-2 with six straight wins to close the season in winning the school's first ever Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship.

Since 1980 W&L has had only six losing seasons and added a second ODAC title in 1985 behind the exploits of Kevin Weaver who ran for 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns, both school records. Current coach Frank Miriello led the Generals to .500 or better records in his first two seasons, the first W&L coach to do that since 1934.


Contact: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director
PO Drawer 928
Lexington, VA 24450
Phone: 540-463-8670