Cumberland College, a school in Lebanon, Tennessee, had discontinued its football program before the season but was not allowed to cancel its game against the Engineers. The fact that Cumberland's baseball team had crushed Georgia Tech earlier that year 22–0 (amidst allegations that Cumberland used professionals as ringers) probably accounted for Georgia Tech coach John Heisman's running up the score on the Bulldogs, Heisman also being the Engineers' baseball coach. He insisted on the schools' scheduling agreement, which required Cumberland to pay $3,000 ($65,018 in inflation-adjusted terms) to Tech if its football team failed to show. So, George E. Allen (who was elected to serve as Cumberland's football team student manager after first serving as the baseball team student manager) put together a team of 14 men to travel to Atlanta as Cumberland's football team.
Another reason for Heisman's plan to run up the score was the practice among the sportswriters of the time to rank teams based upon how many points they scored. Since this statistic did not account for the strength or weakness of a team's opponent, Heisman disagreed with the amount of weight the writers tended to assign to it, and he may have unleashed his players on Cumberland to make his point.
Cumberland received the opening kickoff and failed to make a first down. After a punt, the Engineers scored on their first play. Cumberland then fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, and a Tech player returned the fumble for a touchdown. The Bulldogs fumbled again on their next play, and it took Tech two runs to score its third touchdown. Cumberland lost nine yards on its next possession, then gave up a fourth touchdown on another two-play Tech drive.
The Engineers led 63–0 after the first quarter and 126–0 at halftime. Tech added 54 more points in the third quarter and 42 in the final period.
Several myths have developed around the game. Some have written that Cumberland did not have a single play that gained yards; in fact, its longest play was a 10-yard pass (on 4th-and-22). One page on Cumberland's website says Georgia Tech scored on every offensive play, but the play-by-play account of the game refutes this and suggests a more likely scenario: that Georgia Tech scored on every one of its sets of downs. Cumberland's only effective defense was a blocked extra point using a human pyramid.
As a general rule, the only thing necessary for a touchdown was to give a Tech back the ball and holler, ‘Here he comes’ and ‘There he goes.’
The game ball had the score written on it as a memento. It was donated to the Helms Athletic Foundation sports museum by Bill Schroeder, an avid sports collector. When the museum moved locations in the 1980s, the ball was boxed and remained in storage. In 2014, Ryan Schneider, a Georgia Tech alumnus, purchased the ball in a charity auction for $40,388 ($33,657 without buyer's premium), with the intention of donating it back to Georgia Tech.
^ abcdefgDavis, Parke H. (1916-10-15). "Yellow Jackets-Cumberland Score Was Record One; Tops the List According to Statistics Compiled Showing All Scores Past the Century Mark". The Atlanta Constitution. pp. A3.