Did Ohio State Once Give Up a Touchdown to One of Its Own Players?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Ohio State once gave up a touchdown…to its own player!

The grand legacy of Ohio State football began in 1890 (here’s a team photo)…

Frederick “Jack” Ryder was an early football innovator, bringing Oberlin College their very first football team. In 1892, Ryder was hired as the very first head coach in Ohio State history. He made the staggering total of $15 a week. Ryder served as head coach for three years before he left the team to serve in the Spanish-American War.

He returned in 1898, following a dreadful 1897 Ohio State season where the team won the grand total of ONE game – and that win was courtesy of a forfeit by Ohio Medical in a game that Ohio State was trailing at the time!

Ryder’s career ended with a record of 22-22, with 2 ties, but one of his losses in the 1898 seasons is likely the most notable game in his coaching career.

On October 22, 1898, Ohio State was hosting Marietta College…

Marietta was ahead 3-0 in the second half when one of their players was injured. In the early days of college football, teams rarely traveled with more than a few backup players, and in this game, Marietta only had one backup, and that player has already been called into the game because of a prior injury to a different Marietta player.

So now down to 10 players, Marietta was faced with having to forfeit the game. With no other option, the coach of Marietta asked Ryder if Ohio State could loan them a player to finish the game. Ryder agreed, and halfback Bob Hager switched teams.

That switch would prove to be quite problematic for Ohio State, as Hager would score on a 67-yard touchdown run later in the game, providing the final scoring in a 10-0 Marietta victory.

Ryder was fired at the end of the season.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to Jack Park’s essential tome, The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia, for the information!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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